Health Professionals Call for Coal Power Closures

Health Professionals Call for Coal Power Closures


So far, nearly 400 health care professionals have signed their name to an open letter to the Victorian Premier to put a time limit on coal fired plants in the Latrobe Valley.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) and the Climate and Health Alliance and Healthy Futures delivered the letter to Premier Andrews at the beginning of this week. The DEA says that the pollution from the Latrobe Valley coal plants drastically reduces the life expectancy of its residence – cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological diseases, cancer and the like.

“Failure to act on our outdated coal industry is unconscionable, given the harm it has on public health,” says Professor Peter Brooks; Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Health Policy- School of Population and Global Health University of Melbourne.

“Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have a duty of care to our patients and we must speak out against coal much like we did in the anti-tobacco campaign.”

Currently there is no solid plan for the closures or retirement of the four plants in the Latrobe Valley – one of which is considered the world’s filthiest power station as well as Australia’s highest emitter of dioxins. The Hazelwood Power Station. Hazelwoods health costs are estimated to be around $900 million annually. It produces 7800 tonnes of hydrochloric acid each year, consumes 27 billion litres of water each year and is responsible for 15% of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions (about 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.)

Initially, Hazelwood was meant to start the retirement process in 2005 but was given an extension. Now there is no expected retirement date and no one to hold accountable. The letter calls for a date to be given and a promise to be made in relation to its retirement. With stats like the above – it seems it should have been closed in 2005 when it was meant to be.

What makes matter worse is that there is a healthy alternative to generate power. Why do keep Australia’s filthiest plant in operation when we have another option – a cleaner option that won’t cost people their lives and won’t create pollution. More and more research has come out saying that it is now economically viable to use clean energy sources over dirty coal. There is no reason left to keep harmful dirty coal fired stations open.

The Victorian Government has a golden opportunity to lock in better health outcomes for people in the Latrobe Valley,” said Professor Rob Moodie, Director of Teaching and Learning at the Melbourne School of Population Health.

“Residents of the Valley have suffered enough from the health impacts of coal pollution. As a former Minister for Health, Premier Andrews understands the need to create a healthier future, as well as an economically brighter future for those in the Valley.”

The open letter can be viewed and signed here.