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EPA agrees to consult Central Coast residents on Vales Point asthma pollution levels

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has agreed to public consultation before determining whether to let Vales Point power station keep emitting high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for another five years.

Under pressure from Central Coast families, local community group Future Sooner and the Nature Conservation Council, the EPA agreed that members of the public and health and environment groups should have a say. 

“This is a great outcome for the Central Coast community, especially children with asthma who are at the front line in terms of health impacts,” NCC Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“We are very keen to engage constructively and help residents participate in the consultation process so they get the results they deserve.” 

EPA Chief Executive Officer Tracy Mackey has written to NCC conceding “there is benefit in seeking public submissions on the proposal”, even if it is not legally required. 

“For 10 years, the EPA has exempted Vales Point from the Clean Air Regulation, allowing it to emit NO2 at twice the rate of other facilities,” Mr Gambian said. 

“The company has applied for another five-year exemption but the community has had enough. 

“People want Vales Point to clean up its act so their kids can breathe easy.”

 In January 2021, Newcastle epidemiologist Dr Ben Ewald found that about 650 kids on the Central Coast had asthma because of NO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations.  [1]

NCC, Future Sooner and local residents want the EPA to reject Vales’ application.

“Vales could instal NO2 burners for $33 million and operate them for $2.5 million a year, which is peanuts for a company that last year made $141 million profit before tax,” Mr Gambian said. [2] [3]

“Local residents should not be forced to pay for coal-fired power with health, especially when the owners of Vales can clearly afford to make their facility safe for kids.”

REFERENCES 

[1] Power station NO2 emissions and paediatric asthma in Central Coast, Hunter Valley and Sydney Local Government Areas, briefing note by Dr Ben Ewald, January 2021

[2] Jacobs report, GIPA EPA431, table ES-2, page 10

[3] Vales Point power station’s billionaire beggars receive $62 million dividend for FY2019-20, NCC media release, 1-12-20  

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