Liddell coal-fired power station — one of the most polluting in Australia — must close earlier than 2022 rather than later as suggested by the Turnbull Government on Tuesday, urge concerned doctors.
Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia which includes a Nobel laureate and recipients of the Australia of the Year award says that extending the life of the Liddell power station in NSW beyond 2022 would be highly irresponsible as it would cause ongoing unnecessary deaths from heart and lung disease every year that it operates.
Says spokesperson Dr Van Der Kallen, “Liddell emitted 31,344 tonnes of sulphur dioxide in 2014-15 which is unacceptable.
“In the atmosphere, sulphur dioxide travels great distances and undergoes chemical reactions to form sulphate particles, one of the components of fine particle air pollution that has serious consequences for health.
“Air pollution causes 3000 excess deaths per year in Australia. In Sydney alone, pollution traceable to coal power stations causes 104 premature deaths per year.
“The level of sulphur emission is determined by the coal quality, and this plant does not have post combustion scrubber technology that most modern plants overseas are forced to install.
“Liddell power station is the second oldest operating coal fired power station in Australia. Has the government accepted the additional deaths from retaining Liddell as the cost of its policy failure?
“Liddell was commissioned in 1973 before the health impacts of air pollution were fully understood, when locating it in a rural area and building a tall chimney were thought to be adequate protection for human health.
“As power stations age they become increasingly unreliable and difficult to operate safely, which is why Liddell is due for closure in 2022.”
Doctors for the Environment Australia has been calling for the closure of all coal fired power stations in the next 10 years on the basis of climate risk and air pollution.
“It is folly to propose extending the lifetime of this facility,” says Dr Van Der Kallen. “The Federal Government needs to make plans for energy security but there are plenty of options available for energy storage and demand management, once a rational CET is approved, that have greater community benefit than prolonging the life of old and polluting power stations.”
Dr John Van Der Kallen is a NSW physician and a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, 0431 535 742
Dr David Shearman, AM, is Hon Secretary Doctors for the Environment Australia, 0481 154 805