EPA asks community to comment on Vales Point pollution exemption

An application from Delta Electricity for a further exemption to the set emission limit for nitrogen oxide (NOx) at Vales Point Power Station is now open for public comment.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) came under pressure from the community, the Nature Conservation Council and local environmental group, Future Sooner, to let the public, health professionals and environmental groups have their say.

Spokesman for Future Sooner, Will Belford, said it was good news that for the first time ever, the EPA was offering the public the opportunity to make submissions.

“However, the EPA is only giving the community three weeks to respond while it’s allowed Delta nearly nine months to defend its polluting behaviour,” he said.

“Delta has admitted that it is technically feasible to clean up its power station, but it doesn’t want to spend the money.

“Over the past decade, the EPA has just rubber-stamped Delta’s applications but now that the EPA is going to take a closer look at the application and consult with the community it is very encouraging.

“The EPA needs to take a stand and enforce the law instead of exempting Delta from it.

“We are calling on the EPA to reject the application,” Belford said.

The application submitted to the EPA seeks another exemption under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2021 for five years until January 1, 2027.

Vales Point has an environment protection licence which requires the power station to meet legally enforceable conditions relating to noise, air, water, land contamination, waste and other operational matters, to protect the community and the environment.

Power stations are required to operate and maintain pollution control equipment in a proper and efficient manner and minimise the emission of air pollutants in accordance with strict conditions under the licence.

Until 2012 Vales Point Power Station was required to meet a NOx emission limit of 2,500 milligrams per cubic metre of exhaust.

Nitrogen oxides are gases formed when fuel is burned at high temperatures and comprise mainly of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide.

Since January 1, 2012, Vales Point has been classed in a group of power stations required to meet a NOx emission of 800mg per cubic metre.

The Vales Point licence currently exempts the power station from needing to meet the 800mg per cubic metre limit and instead sets an alternative maximum limit of 1,500mg per cubic metre.

This exemption expires on January 1, 2022.

Delta Electricity has applied to continue to operate with 1,500mg per cubic metre for a further five years to January 1, 2027.

The EPA must consider the impact on local and regional air quality and amenity as part of the decision to grant the application, including any pollution reduction programs and control equipment in the power station operations.

EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations, Steve Beaman, said the EPA was carefully considering and assessing the application in accordance with statutory obligations and it was also interested in community feedback on the proposal.

“While it is not a requirement under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to consult publicly about this application, we are opening this up to comment because we are keen to hear what the community has to say, as part of our considerations,” he said.

“The EPA is conducting a comprehensive review of the application, which seeks to extend an existing exemption for a further five years.

“As part of that, we’ve requested more information from Delta Electricity, including an air quality impact assessment which is now available as part of the public consultation.

“We’re also consulting with experts including from NSW Health and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

“All of this information, as well as the submissions received in this consultation process, will be considered by the EPA before a final decision is made.”

Beaman said the EPA had a comprehensive and robust framework for regulating power stations in NSW including legally enforceable conditions relating to noise, air, water, land contamination, waste and other operational matters designed to protect the community and the environment.

Power station licences and pollution monitoring results provided by licensed industry operators are available on the EPA’s Public Register.

More information about the Delta Electricity Vales Point emission exemption application can be found online at yoursay.epa.nsw.gov.au and submissions close on November 10.

Sue Murray

4 Comments on "EPA asks community to comment on Vales Point pollution exemption"

  1. Stephen Morris | October 27, 2021 at 5:20 pm |

    It is to be hoped this is not just a PR exercise tolet the public have their say then let Vales Point continue operating as usual. The owner paid only $1m for the power station and has been making profits of over $60m p.a. They have more than enough money to clean up their act.

  2. The 2012 limit of NO2 emissions at 800mg a cubic was significantly higher than similar power stations around the world. To be given an exemption of another 700mg and being able to emit NO2 to a level of 1500mg a cubic meter is very concerning. While The 2 Air monitoring stations at Wyong and Morriset show low levels of NO2, the latest research and recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) communicates huge concerns about the 4major are Pollutants (NO2, SO2, PM2.5 and 03) The WHO states “Compared to 15 years ago, when the previous edition of these guidelines was published, there is now a much stronger body of evidence to show how air pollution affects different aspects of health at even lower concentrations than previously understood.” These findings were released last month. Another way of considering the amount of NO2 that is emitted by Vales Point Power Station is that on average for the last 5 years it has emitted 20 000 tons of NO2 per year into the air of Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast. This amount was self reported by Vales Point Power Station to the Australian National Pollutant Inventory. NO2 is very toxic even in tiny
    amounts. It reacts in the air to produce other pollutants ( ground level Ozone(03) and PM2.5). NO2 presents as a huge health risk.

  3. It’s time to stop spreading poisonous gases. The health of people is too important to risk.
    It’s time to embrace renewable energy production, not pursue ageing and failing technology.

  4. Pamela Ingham | November 10, 2021 at 5:33 pm |

    Please, no more poisonous gases into our environment at Lake Macquarie. This area is too precious for that.

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