Emissions measured from Queensland government owned coal-fired power station doubled in the year after continuous emission monitoring was installed. Previously, emissions were estimated as required under the national pollutant reporting scheme. In one year, measurements jumped from 18 to 36 million kg in oxides of nitrogen emissions. DEA and EJA are calling for an urgent overhaul of pollution monitoring and controls.
"Coal-fired power stations remain the dominant source of Australia's fine particle pollution, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide," EJA's Dr Whelan said. "Most power station operators estimate (rather than measure) emissions using handbooks developed 20 years ago by the industry," Dr Whelan said.
"By measuring rather than estimating emissions, the Stanwell coal-fired power station found they were in fact emitting twice as much toxic pollution. All power stations should be required to install continuous stack monitoring."
Doctors for the Environment member and University of Newcastle epidemiologist Dr Ben Ewald said Australian governments should reject all proposals for new or expanded power stations unless they include modern pollution technologies.
Vales Point power station, bought for $1 from the NSW Government in 2015 and valued at $730 million two years later, is among a dozen projects the Federal Government is considering underwriting as part of a pledge to deliver more reliable and affordable power.
Under the scheme the government would pay to upgrade each of the Lake Macquarie power station's two turbines by 20 megawatts. The power station was bought by rich-listers Trevor St Baker and Brian Flannery.
Dr Ewald said that despite significant limitations in the National Pollutant Inventory, including that it is self-reported by industry and not audited, it remained Australia's most comprehensive source of air pollution data. The scheme was introduced in 1998 in response to community right-to-know campaigns, he said.
"Australia's air pollution laws are failing to protect the health of local communities and the environment," said Dr Ewald.
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