Port Augusta, March 6, 2018 – Residents slowed traffic to a crawl on one of the Port Augusta’s busiest thoroughfares this afternoon, to demand full and proper remediation of the town’s defunct coal power plant, a day after yet another harmful dust event.The level of particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter (PM10) in Port Augusta’s air yesterday exceeded the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy’s maximum (ambient) concentration of 50 micrograms per cubic metre, according to air quality monitoring by the South Australian Environment Protection Agency (EPA).[1]

Long term exposure to PM10, even below the recommended safe level, increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, studies have found. [2]

“Port Augusta residents have been routinely forced to take refuge indoors because of choking coal dust blown from the power plant but they’re taking to the streets today in frustration at the lack of effective action on this issue,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said.

“This has been happening for almost two years. It’s an unacceptable health risk that needs to be addressed urgently. Premier Jay Weatherill’s office appeared to hear community concerns at a meeting yesterday but the test is whether he now acts decisively to clean up the mess in Port Augusta.”

SA Best and the Liberal Party have both pledged to full and proper remediation of the former Alinta power plant site, including the ash dam and Bird Lake, as called for in Greenpeace’s ‘Done and Dusted?’ report [3].

Port Augusta Dust Busters member and 2017 winner of the Jill Hudson award for environment Protection Lisa Lumsden attended the rally and was critical of the current EPA-approved plan to remediate the former power plant, highlighting that repeated dust events showed the measures were not working.

“How on earth did the EPA think 15cm of topsoil on 15 metres of coal ash, over a flat land surface area the size of the Adelaide CBD would ever be sufficient to protect the lungs of the people of Port Augusta for now and forever?” Mrs Lumsden said.

“It clearly isn’t working and the people have had enough. This issue may be a minor inconvenience to Mr Weatherill but it is an urgent matter of health for the people of Port Augusta. We cannot accept the status quo any longer.”

Notes to editors:


[2] https://www.smh.com.au/environment/no-safe-level-of-air-pollution-says-study-20130710-2pqf7.html

Greenpeace Australia Pacific is currently running a crowdfunded advertising campaign with Port Augusta community members, asking South Australian party leaders to commit to full and proper remediation of the Port Augusta Northern Power Station sites.

Archive footage of Port Augusta dust events here

Read Greenpeace’s Done and Dusted? Report here