Forty residents attended a public forum at Wyee, on Thursday, November 29, on the health impacts of NSW coal-fired power stations.
Dr Ben Ewald, an epidemiologist and air pollution expert, delivered the findings from his latest report, ‘The health burden of fine particle pollution from electricity generation in NSW’, which found that “Each year, power station pollution causes 279 premature deaths, 361 new cases of type 2 diabetes, and 233 low birth weight babies.”
The contempt with which people feel they are being treated is reaching boiling point in the community, according to meeting organisers, Environmental Justice Australia (EJA).
In response to the common question, “What needs to change to lower the pollution levels we are experiencing?”, Dr Ewald said Australia’s coal-fired power stations should be required to install best practice emission controls, including bag filters, Selective Catalytic Reduction, Flue Gas Desulfurisation and Activated Carbon Injection.
Dr John van Der Kallen, Chair of NSW Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), told the meeting that DEA supported the findings and recommendations put forward in Dr Ewald’s report, and that it was important for the local community to call on the NSW EPA to set stricter license conditions for coal-fired power stations.
“Right now, there is something that Central Coast residents can do to help reduce the unnecessary and unforgivable health burden on the local communities,” said Nicola Rivers, Director for Research and Advocacy at EJA.
“Lodge a submission calling on the NSW EPA to impose stricter license conditions for the operation of Eraring and Vales Point power stations, and seek to significantly reduce the toxic air pollution that spews from them, year after year.”
In recent weeks, EJA hosted public forums in other affected communities including Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Newcastle and Sydney.
Nearly a thousand people have made submissions to the NSW Government calling on them to crack-down on pollution regulation for coal-fired power stations.
“The take home message that everyone received is that right now, we can do something to reduce the unnecessary and unforgivable health burden on our local communities,” Rivers said.
Media release, Nov 30
Livia Cullen, EJA