Port Augusta locals raising funds to push South Australian pollies to clean up coal’s dirty legacy

Press release - 14 February, 2018
PORT AUGUSTA, Feb 19, 2018 - Port Augusta residents sick of choking on harmful dust blown from the decommissioned Northern Power station are demanding that South Australia’s political leaders resolve the festering health hazard once and for all.

Ahead of next month’s state election, members of the Port Augusta Dustbusters group are crowdfunding to run newspaper and online ads calling on South Australia’s incumbent and political hopefuls to immediately remediate the former coal plant site, including Bird Lake and the ash dams, to a best practice standard, independently verified and in consultation with the community.

“The health of our entire community remains at risk, especially on windy days.  Small dust particles generated from the site can get into your lungs and enter your bloodstream causing health problems ranging from a scratchy throat and watery eyes to exacerbations of respiratory conditions and potentially increasing long term cancer risk. What makes this situation even worse is that Flinders Power could see this coming when they shut their plant,” Dr Amanda Bethell, a member of the Port Augusta Dustbusters group and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners GP of the Year said.

“Our people have been living with the health effects of generating dirty coal power for our state for the past 60 years. Since the closure, we have continued to choke through harmful dust events for more than a year now!  It’s unacceptable and unjust and feels like yet another ‘out of sight, out of mind’ non-response from the government. We are calling on Jay Weatherill, Steven Marshall and Nick Xenophon to fix this problem once and for all.”

As well as demanding a long term solution to the dust hazard the residents are asking for short term management measures to deal with dust events, an investigation and remedying of health effects caused by the plant and its closure with first priority given to the safety and wellbeing of the community during the process.

“Since the closure of Northern Power Station, the community of Port Augusta has been repeatedly smothered by a series of major dust events. During these periods, dust, which contains unknown chemical elements from the shut down coal-fired power plant has forced people indoors and generated a range of physical and psychological effects,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said.

“The site is not being remediated adequately or quickly enough and residents feel their health is being put at risk by the failures of Flinders Power, the EPA and the State Government. With the issue having dragged on for more than a year now they are calling on South Australia’s political leaders to prioritise the health of their community and clean up coal’s harmful legacy for good.”

The issue of just transitions away from fossil fuels is one that many communities in Australia will face in the coming years as an increasing number of coal-fired power plants close. For that reason it is vital that the residents of Port Augusta are able to hold the Flinders Power, regulators and the state government to account to safeguard their health as they prepare for a future without coal.

 

Archive footage of Port Augusta dust events here

Link to crowdfunder page here


Media contact:

Martin Zavan, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Media Campaigner

0424 295 422,

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