17 January 2019

AGL admits it has been selling ash with unacceptable levels of heavy metal contamination

AGL’s admission that it has been selling contaminated waste to business customers highlights the need to tighten environmental controls on the state’s most polluting industry. [1]

The fossil fuel giant suspended sale of coal ash from its Liddell and Bayswater power stations after tests showed elevated levels of heavy metals (chromium, cadmium and copper) exceeded limits set by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

“The tsunami of waste generated by coal-fired power stations is leaving an immense toxic legacy for future generations to deal with, especially in the Hunter Valley and on the Central Coast,” Nature Conservation Council Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner Brad Smith said.

“About 5.8 million tonnes of toxic coal ash are produced by coal-fired power stations every year in Australia, which is 22 per cent of all the nation’s waste.

“Last year we learned the ash dam at the Eraring power station was leaching toxins into Lake Macquarie after its owner, Origin Energy, announced plans to dump a further 5 million cubic metres of ash close to the lake. [2]

“Now we are told contaminated waste from AGL plants has been spreading through the community embedded in the products that use ash as an ingredient.

“AGL says the products do not pose a public health risk, but the company had also led us to believe until today that the ash it was selling met government standards.

“It is unclear at this stage how long the company has been selling contaminated waste or what volume of material has found its way out into the wider community.

“We urge the government make the company fully disclose the level of contamination and track the likely final destination of these contaminants so consumers can protect themselves.

“This incident is another reminder that we should shut these dangerous facilities as soon as we can and start generating all our electricity using energy from the sun and wind.”

REFERENCES

[1] www.agl.com.au/about-agl/media-centre/asx-and-media-releases/2019/january/agl-suspends-coal-ash-from-sale

[2] www.theherald.com.au/story/5685400/contamination-fears-rising-as-eraring-power-station-gets-approval-to-augment-ash-dam/

Tags

Climate and energyPollution and wasteCoal and gas

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