Anglesea based community group Surf Coast Air Action (SCAA) has condemned suggestions that an unnamed foreign controlled company is currently conducting “due diligence” on the Alcoa Anglesea coal mine and power plant.
“It’s outrageous that the Anglesea and Surf Coast communities are being kept in the dark about an issue that is of vital interest to them,” said SCAA spokesperson and Anglesea resident Dr Jacinta Morahan:
“I would urge any company that may be interested in Anglesea to consult openly with the community so that it can properly understand the depth of the opposition to the continued operation of the mine and power plant. This issue is not going to go away and a sale without community consultation or support will simply intensify the opposition.”
“The social licence for the Anglesea coal pit and plant expires in a matter of weeks with the Point Henry smelter that it was constructed to power,” said SCAA spokesperson and Anglesea resident of 30 years Mark Smith:
“Any company that values its reputation would be wise to think long and hard before associating itself with a polluting and deeply unpopular facility that is past its use by date.”
“SCAA, backed by very strong community support, is committed to seeing the closure of the mine and power plant,” said local resident, tourism operator and SCAA spokesperson Regina Gleeson:
“Anglesea residents are unwilling to tolerate the cocktail of pollutants that the facility emits close to our primary school and homes any longer.”
SCAA have repeatedly urged the Victorian Energy Minister Russell Northe to be proactive and to intervene by commissioning independent research into the risks of public health, coal mine fire and ground movement from the continued operation of the Anglesea facility.
Figures recently released by the National Pollutant Inventory reveal that the Alcoa-owned Anglesea coal plant:
• Is the equal third highest emitter of the known respiratory irritant sulphur dioxide (SO2) in Australia (39,000,000 kg per annum); and
• Also emits particulates (a recognized carcinogen) as well as Arsenic, Lead and Mercury.
The only power plants in Australia emitting more SO2 than Alcoa Anglesea (Bayswater in the Hunter Valley [63,000,000 kg] and Loy Yang in the Latrobe Valley [49,000,000kg]) produce 17.6 and 14.7 times more electricity than Anglesea respectively.
Even the old and notoriously polluting Hazelwood power plant in the Latrobe Valley emits only 1/3 of the SO2 emitted by the Anglesea facility, despite producing 10 times the power output.
The Anglesea power plant operates just 550 metres from homes and 1.2 kilometres from the local primary school.
The power produced by the Anglesea facility will not be required when the Alcoa Point Henry smelter (which it was constructed to feed) closes later this month.
Community surveying in Anglesea has revealed that 82% of those surveyed want the mine and power plant shut down and rehabilitated, with the remainder almost evenly split between undecided or against closure.
Article by Noel Murphy in Geelong Independent on 25 July 2014