Statement on bushfires close to Springvale coal mine and Mt Piper coal power station

With regards to the bushfires nearing the Springvale coal mine and Mt Piper coal power station, the following comments are attributable to Jamie Hanson, Head of Campaigns at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Overnight, the fire came dangerously close to Springvale coal mine and Mt Piper coal power station. If either of these catch fire they will likely burn for weeks, emitting extremely toxic fumes which will aggravate the already dangerous levels of air pollution across New South Wales.

If the mine or power station ignites, workers and emergency services responders will be at extreme risk, as well as the community living nearby.

Last time Australia experienced a coal mine fire was the Hazelwood fire in 2014, which was lit by embers from nearby bushfires and burned for 45 days. 

As Hazelwood burned, the mine emitted toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, polycyclic aromatic compounds, volatile organic compounds, dioxins and furans, and metals. 

These chemicals are extremely toxic and dangerous to communities and families, but especially the Australians most vulnerable to health impacts, such as children and the elderly.

A subsequent inquiry into the Hazelwood fire found that 11 premature deaths were attributable to the Hazelwood fire – we already know that one death from air pollution is one too many.

New South Wales is already in the grips of an air pollution crisis from these bushfires, and if a coal mine and coal power station are ignited as a result of this bushfire emergency, the health risks to Australians are extremely high.

 

For more information please contact Communications Manager Nelli Stevenson on 0428 113 346 or email [email protected]