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Byron Shire
May 24, 2022

Coal plans cop a blast from environmentalists

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Hazelwood power station in Victoria.
Hazelwood power station in Victoria.

Plans by coal companies in NSW and Victoria have copped a blast from the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) and the Greens. Centennial Coal plans to expand Springvale Colliery near Lithgow in NSW while the controversial coal-powered Hazelwood power station in Victoria is looking at burning wood from native forest as an alternative.

The NCC said the NSW government must not approve Centennial Coal’s plans to expand Springvale Colliery near Lithgow until the company can demonstrate it can remove the extreme high levels of salt currently flowing into the Cox’s River and Sydney’s drinking water supply.

 ‘Springvale Colliery already discharges unacceptably saline water into the Coxs River and Sydney’s drinking water supply – it should not be allowed to increase its environmental impact by being licensed to dump even more toxic water into the environment,’ NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

 ‘These discharges are slowly killing a river that flows through the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and into Sydney’s drinking water supply.

 ‘It is simply unacceptable that the NSW Environment Protection Authority, a body established to defend nature and public health, is considering allowing a company to threaten the life of a river and the purity of Sydney’s water supply.’

Dirty water from the mine was treated to acceptable levels by a nearby power station until 2012 when the power station closed. Ever since, Springvale Colliery has been releasing highly saline water into the Coxs River.

‘Unbelievably, the EPA has allowed the mine to continue to release waste water with salinity levels 24 times higher than natural levels,’ Ms Smolski said.

‘The environmental impact of the mine would increase significantly if it the expansion were approved, so it is more important than ever that discharges be adequately treated before being pumped into the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.’

Greens blast Hazelwood plans

 The Greens say revelations that Hazelwood power station owners have been secretly considering plans to burn wood from native forests for energy highlight the immense dangers of including native forest biomass in the Renewable Energy Target.

 ‘Burning wood from native forests for energy is neither clean nor renewable,’ said Victorian Senator and the Australian Greens forests spokesperson Janet Rice.

 ‘Hazelwood, Australia’s oldest and dirtiest power station, is desperately looking for a way to reinvent itself.

 ‘We now have proof that the deal between Labor and the Abbott government could see Hazelwood become even more destructive.

 ‘All the science is telling us that we must end our reliance on coal to reduce the impacts of climate change, but this must not come at the expense of our native forests.

 ‘To get serious about storing carbon and reducing the impacts of climate change, we must stop logging our native forests, not encourage their destruction.

 ‘Replacing one dirty power source for another is like quitting cigars by taking up cigarettes.

 ‘The community around Hazelwood has suffered enough.

 ‘We urgently need to replace Hazelwood with actual clean energy like wind and solar, as Labor promised to do in 2010.’

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