The following open letter was published in the Geelong Advertiser, 4th August 2014 and appears under a Creative Commons licence.
Doctors for the Environment Australia requests no company makes an offer to Alcoa to purchase either the Anglesea coal mine or power station.
Alcoa’s Anglesea coal operations were established almost 50 years ago with the sole purpose of providing extra power for Alcoa’s aluminium smelter at Point Henry. With the closure of the smelter, there is no need for this arrangement to continue.
As a health advocacy organisation of medical doctors, we are concerned about the adverse health and environmental impacts from continuing mining and power production from Anglesea’s outdated coal operations.
The locally mined brown coal has 10 times the sulphur content of that mined in the Latrobe Valley. Due to this, the power station emits three times as much sulphur dioxide (a significant respiratory irritant) as Hazelwood. There is no safe limit for airborne sulphur dioxide.
Particulates (classified carcinogens) and other toxic chemicals are also released into the air, approximately 1000m from the local primary school and 500m from homes.
As reminded by the recent Hazelwood mine fire, the Anglesea township is forever threatened by a coal mine fire with its attendant extreme pollution unless extensive mine rehabilitation occurs.
The risk of serious bushfires is predicted to increase in this area.
Furthermore, there is strong local opposition to Anglesea’s coal operations. The Surf Coast Shire Council has unanimously called on the Federal Government to order either decommissioning or the cleaning up of the power plant and coal mine. Over 80 per cent of residents in a recent doorknock poll were in favour of closing the complex.
Dr Eugenie Kayak,
Doctors for the Environment Australia