New figures showing worsening sulphur dioxide air pollution from three NSW coal-fired power stations must be met with tighter license conditions on power plants to reduce the significant risks to the health of millions of people in Sydney and across the state, says medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia.
Eraring, Vales Point and Mt Piper power stations, have been increasing the release of sulphur dioxide, a precursor pollutant for fine particle air pollution according to the latest National Pollutant Inventory.
DEA spokesperson Dr Ben Ewald says, “imposing stricter license conditions on power plants, as is the practice in other developed countries, is a sensible step towards reducing the dangerous levels of air pollution going into our lungs.
“The NSW EPA reviewed the licenses of these power stations a year ago, and missed the opportunity to impose tighter license conditions, despite advice from medical groups that improved license conditions would lead to health gains by preventing deaths, new cases of diabetes, and better growth of babies during pregnancy.”
Research conducted by scientists at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has shown that despite being located 60 to 100 Km from Sydney, prevailing winds bring pollution from these power stations to the Sydney region where many millions of people are exposed.
The western power station contributes most in winter, and the Lake Macquarie power stations pollute most in summer due to prevailing winds. The trend in sulphur dioxide release documented in NPI data:
“Sulphur dioxide can be controlled at the power station by post combustion scrubbers, a technology that is required on power stations in Europe, North America, and Japan, yet no power station in Australia is required to have them,” says Dr Ewald.
“The power stations operate within their license conditions; the problem is that licenses are so weak that substantial harm to public health is occurring, and these new figures show pollution release is getting worse.
“Every car on the road is required to have pollution control technology, yet these power stations built last century are allowed to pollute without modern pollution controls.
”The other feature in this year’s NPI data is the steep rise in fine particle pollution from Vales Point, the power station that the Federal government proposes to prop up with a subsidy for new turbines.
“With such a poor track record on pollution, it makes no sense to extend its working life. “
NSW and national
Dr Ben Ewald
Dr John Iser and A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos AM
Dr David King
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DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment http://dea.org.au
We are supported by a Scientific Advisory Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Colin Butler, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan