Particle emissions from NSW coal-fired power stations will cause 3429 deaths in the next 25 years a new report has found — and most of the pollution will come from the Central Coast.
The report, The Health Burden of fine particle pollution from electricity generation in NSW, by Newcastle University epidemiologist, Dr Ben Ewald was commissioned by Environmental Justice Australia and released this week.
The study looked at the impact of emissions on three health outcomes which have already been linked to air pollution — death, low birth-weight babies and new onset diabetes.
It said fine particle emissions from the State’s five power stations had already caused 236 deaths, 206 low birth weight babies and 303 cases of new onset diabetes.
Eraring Power Station is one of two Central Coast power stations blamed for the bulk of fine particle pollution. Of these, more than half were linked to Central Coast power stations Eraring, at Eraring, and Vales Point, at Mannering Park, whose emissions are dumped by typical weather conditions on the Central Coast and Sydney.
The study, commissioned by Environmental Justice Australia, examined the effects of fine particle pollution with a diameter of 2.5 microns or smaller emitted by the plants. Coal combustion is one of NSW's biggest sources of such pollution, with prevailing winds often dragging the particles – the smallest of which can enter lungs and the bloodstream – over major population centres.
“Based on the current expected closure date of the NSW power stations, it is estimated that 3429 additional deaths will occur in NSW between the present day and the closure of the last power station [in 2042],” it said.
“Australian power stations are operating without the modern pollution control technologies and they’ve been allowed to get away with it for years and years," Dr Eward said. "That wouldn’t be the case anywhere in Europe or North America, or even in most of Asia.”
The Environment Protection Authority is now reviewing the licences of three: Vales Point, Mt Piper and Eraring. By the time the last of the five is due to shut in 2042, the number of expected low-weight births would be 3029, with new onset diabetes put at 4412, the study found.
GREENS CALL FOR LIMITS NSW
Greens have been quick to jump of the findings, introducing a bill to NSW parliament to set pollution limits for coal fired power stations. Greens MP and Environment spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said the report was “proof of just how deadly NSW coal fired power stations are”. “If Premier Berejiklian doesn’t act to force coal power stations to clean up their pollution then she will be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people,” Ms Faehrmann said.
“It is unacceptable that toxic emissions from Australia’s power stations are multiple times higher than what is allowed in the EU, the US and China.” “We hope the Government and Labor will put people’s health ahead of the profits of AGL and Origin energy and support the Bill when it is debated on Thursday.”