Although US aluminium giant Alcoa recently announced the closure of its Point Henry smelter in Geelong, the fate of its Anglesea coal mine and power station remains uncertain.
Friends of the Earth analysis shows retirement of the Anglesea coal power station can occur without a noticeable impact on power prices. Given that the coal plant was built to power the smelter, there’s no social licence to operate as a stand-alone generator.
In kind, concerned resident Regina Gleeson highlights the adverse health risks facing those in proximity to coal-fired plant in a letter published by The Age:
Carbon monoxide has hospitalised 19 firefighters who were at the three-kilometre fire at Hazelwood power station (The Age, 17/2). It underscores the daily assault experienced by people who live near coalmines and coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley and Surf Coast. Situation normal is elevated levels of sulphur dioxide, with Hazelwood emitting 12 million kilograms a year and Alcoa Anglesea emitting 35 million kilograms a year.
The World Health Organisation and United States Environmental Protection Agency have concluded there is no safe level of exposure to sulphur dioxide. It exacerbates asthma and increases lung disease, hospital admissions and emergency department attendances. Also, arsenic, mercury, fluorine, cadmium, lead, selenium and zinc are released with coal combustion. Fine dust is inhaled into the lungs and causes long-term damage. Coalmining and power generation are dangerous. We should transition to clean renewable energy.
Regina Gleeson is a member of Surf Coast Air Action.
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