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Pollution report highlights ‘toxic burden’

Yallorn coal-fired power station in Victoria. Photo Environmental Justice Australia envirojustice.org.au

Yallorn coal-fired power station in Victoria. Photo Environmental Justice Australia envirojustice.org.au

Dan McCulloch

CANBERRA [AAP]

State and territory governments have been accused of total failure in the fight for clean air after many of Australia’s largest polluters reported emissions hikes.

Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) has delivered a scathing assessment of state regulators after crunching numbers from the annual National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) at the weekend.

Toxic emissions from the coal industry’s mines, power stations and export terminals dominated the report.

The Bayswater coal-fired power station in NSW has reported a 770 per cent increase in toxic coarse particle pollution during the past five years.

Further north, emissions from the Tarong Power Station in Queensland increased by 237 per cent in just one year.

A handful of other coal-fired stations on the country’s east coast also reported increased emissions, spurring calls from EJA for the commonwealth to take a bigger role in controlling toxic pollution.

‘The health damage caused by air pollution costs Australians between $11 billion and $24.3 billion per annum, yet governments continue to allow polluters to poison communities,’ EJA researcher James Whelan said.

‘The latest NPI data reveals the total failure of Australian governments to control air pollution and highlights the need for much stronger pollution controls and regulation.’

Electricity generation from coal-fired power stations remains the single largest contributor of deadly fine particle pollution, which the EJA says accounts for more than 3000 premature deaths a year.

Coalmines are the third-largest source of fine particle pollution.

‘Particle pollution from coalmines has trebled over a decade, defying state government pollution controls,’ Dr Whelan said.

Coalmining is also Australia’s second-largest source of coarse particle emissions, accounting for 393 million kilograms of pollution, which is more than 40 per cent of the nation’s total.

The National Pollutant Inventory is an annual report on air pollution in Australia, published by the federal government using information supplied by various industries and compiled by states and territories.


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