New data shows how coal is polluting Australian communities and making people sick

 New data released today that shows the extent to which coal-burning power stations are polluting Australian communities and harming the environment and human health has been welcomed by Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

The Coal Impacts Index, launched today by Australia Beyond Coal Alliance, of which Greenpeace is a founding member, is the first time that pollution data on Australia’s coal-burning power stations has been compiled – and the results are damning. 

Coal-burning power stations in the National Electricity Market have breached their environmental protection licenses 153 times since 2015, putting local communities and environments in areas such as the Hunter Valley and Latrobe Valley at serious risk.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said that the Coal Impacts Index sheds welcome light on coal pollution, and the lax attitude of Australia’s coal-burning power station operators towards their environmental responsibilities.

For too long, communities living close to coal-burning power stations have been kept in the dark about the serious impacts of coal on their health. Now, thanks to the Coal Impacts Index, all Australians will be able to get a full picture of how their health and environment is affected by coal pollution,” he said.

“Coal pollution is a health hazard, responsible for hundreds of premature deaths, childhood asthma and other serious health conditions every year – and yet big polluters are routinely breaching their environmental protection licences.”

“AGL is the worst offender, but all the owners of coal-burning power stations must stop playing dice with people’s health and improve their compliance procedures. People in areas like the Latrobe Valley and the Hunter deserve better than being choked by pollution from the very coal power stations that depend on them to run their operations.”


  • Coal power stations in the NEM have publicly reported 153 environmental protection licence breaches since 2015, including diesel and chemical spills, water and land contamination and generation of excessive coal ash dust 
  • AGL is by far the biggest offender, responsible for three-quarters of licence breaches reported by EPAs in NSW and VIC 
  • Despite 153 licence breaches, this analysis found only 16 penalties or enforceable undertakings were issued 
  • Australia’s coal fired power stations are ageing and unreliable, with 286 breakdowns reported since 2018 
  • Coal fired power stations are our biggest climate polluters, producing 135 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2019 

Search the Coal Impacts Index for coal pollution impacts in your area:

To arrange an interview contact Fiona Ivits on 0487 003 872 or [email protected]