Protests to say ‘close Hazelwood’

Issue 
Replace Hazelwood rally, Ballarat. Photo: Climate Action Centre

Protests will take place across the country on July 17 to demand the federal and Victorian state governments close down Australia’s dirtiest power station and replace it with clean energy by 2012.

The call for a national day of action was issued by groups active in the “Replace Hazelwood” campaign, including Melbourne’s Climate Action Centre and Environment Victoria.

The call has been endorsed by the Community Climate Network, which brings together more than 100 climate action groups nationwide.

Climate action groups will hold protests outside the offices of MPs, organise community rallies and vigils and target branches of the Commonwealth Bank (which has an 8% stake in the power station).

Hazelwood produces 1.53 tonnes of greenhouse gases for every megawatt hour of electricity, making it Australia’s — and the industrialised world’s — most polluting coal-fired power station.

The power station, located in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, is responsible for about 15% of Victoria’s emissions and 3% of Australia’s total emissions. It is the single biggest emitter of carbon pollution in the country.

New concerns have been raised that asbestos may be present in the ageing power station’s smokestacks. The June 14 LaTrobe Valley Express said Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority is investigating the claim, which was reportedly made by a company whistleblower.

“While it is well known that Hazelwood was built with large amounts of asbestos, claims that asbestos material has found its way into the smokestacks are extremely worrying”, Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham said on June 15. “The risk would be that asbestos dust could escape the smokestacks along with other pollutants.”

Wakeham said the asbestos danger was an added reason why “the state and federal governments [had] to urgently develop a plan to replace the power station with clean energy projects and jobs, some of which could be targeted for the Latrobe Valley”.

Climate action groups can register their event for July 17 on www.climateactioncentre.org.

[For more information phone Damien 0419 253 342, Victoria 0428 480 409. Email info@climateactioncentre.org> or victoria@envict.org.au>.]

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