Ageing coal-fired power plants put Australia on the map of global air pollution hotspots


Australia’s ageing coal-fired power plants have put the nation on a list of the world’s top emitting countries for toxic sulphur-dioxide, a new report has found.

The report from Greenpeace, and based on NASA satellite data, tracks global sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions – a major contributor to human death and disease, including around 4,000 premature deaths a year in Australia.

Indeed, the data shows Australia, with it’s ageing coal-fired power generators, is responsible for some of the world’s worst SO2 hotspots.

These include Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, home to the Loy Lang and Yallourn coal generators, and Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, where the Vales Point and Eraring plants are located.

The NSW Hunter Valley is also up there, ranking among the top 100 air pollution hotspots thanks to the Liddell and Bayswater power stations.

According to Greenpeace, Australia’s coal plants are licensed to emit up to eight times more sulphur dioxide than their counterparts in China, do to lax – or nonexistent – pollution standards.

“Air pollution is the price our communities pay for the federal government’s failure to stand up to big polluters,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner, Jonathan Moylan.

“It’s time for state environment ministers to show leadership by championing health-based sulphur and nitrogen dioxide standards, strong pollution limits for industry and speeding up the switch to clean renewable energy”