Adjournment – Anglesea Power Station
Anglesea power station Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — I raise the matter of the Anglesea power station. The action I seek is that the Minister for Energy and Resources write to Surf Coast Air Action Inc. explaining what conditions she intends to impose on any future owners of the Anglesea power station site, should it be sold. In particular I would like her to specify whether she will require the rehabilitation of the site by the current and future owners, whether she will mandate the installation of sulphur dioxide scrubbers and whether the owners of the plant will have to contribute the estimated $170 million in health costs that Harvard University researchers have calculated the Anglesea coal plant causes each year.
The Anglesea power station, like Hazelwood and many others, is a blight on our environment and our state. The Anglesea power station pumps tonnes of toxic waste into the air, particularly sulphur dioxide. Children at a primary school less than 1 kilometre away are forced to breathe this polluted air every day. This power station produces a negligible amount of power, and the aluminium smelter it was built to serve has closed. Alcoa is looking to sell, and we need to know if any future owner will get the same free ride Alcoa has profited from to date. Despite its woeful track record in creating air pollution and despite being located in one of Victoria’s most beautiful coastal areas, the Anglesea power station currently gets huge perks. Alcoa pays minimal royalties to the state and leases irreplaceable, biologically diverse heathland from Victoria for the peppercorn rent of only 62 cents per hectare annually.
On top of this, Alcoa is allowed to dump its waste in the Anglesea River and it cannot be held liable for damage to biodiversity caused by its poisonous chemical waste pool. According to former Treasurer Kim Wells, the Anglesea power station receives state government subsidies estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. We do not know the amount for certain because Alcoa enjoys complete exemption from freedom of information laws. The local community, and indeed all Victorians, deserve to know what kind of sweet deal any future purchaser will be getting in Anglesea at the expense of the community’s health and the climate. The climate, environment and health reasons for shutting down coal-fired power stations are urgent and compelling. If the government is serious about acting on climate change and if it is serious about protecting communities in regional areas from toxic air pollution, it must act to close the Anglesea and Hazelwood power stations immediately.