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Mar 29 2019

Statement on Power Station Mercury Emissions

Power stations in the Latrobe Valley contributed less than 1 per cent to total mercury concentrations modelled by the CSIRO when assessing their impact on the Latrobe Valley, the Australian Energy Council said today.

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (the EPA) commissioned the CSIRO to look at mercury emissions from power stations and any impacts in the Latrobe Valley in 2015 to estimate the contribution and impact in that region.

This was at a time when the 1600MW Hazelwood power station was still operating and the results showed that the Latrobe Valley power stations contributed less than 1 per cent to the total mercury concentrations modelled. (A copy for the report can be found here.)

The EPA noted that mercury concentrations in the region are dominated by the atmospheric background and natural emissions from vegetation, soil and water.

Recent claims of high levels of mercury concentrations from Latrobe Valley power stations had pointed to raw National Pollution Inventory data.

Raw data can appear high because it only reports on some industrial emitters without counting natural or diffuse sources. The CSIRO research makes clear that power plants are only a small contributor to levels in the Latrobe Valley.

A separate 2013 independent assessment of mercury emissions from coal-fired power station in NSW also found that there is a significant margin of safety and emissions would need to be 10,000 times higher to result in concentrations higher than health guidelines. (A copy of that work can be found here.)

Australia’s environmental regulatory agencies recognise that our mercury issues are quite different to overseas situations and so solutions will sensibly be different.

Australian Energy Council members are also not opposed to the ratification of the Minamata Convention on mercury emissions.

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