Hazelwood power station

I live about 10 minutes' drive from Morwell, a town that simply feels like decay. Unemployment is among the highest in Victoria, the stress of losing jobs or homes is fuelling a drug crisis and it seems as if things can only get worse.

It’s hard to walk down empty streets with boarded up shopfronts and not feel worried about Morwell’s future. Following news that Target in Mid Valley, Morwell's largest shopping centre, would close, that future is more uncertain than ever.

One outcome of last year's inquiry into the Morwell Mine fire in Victoria's Latrobe Valley was the discovery that the default plan for “rehabilitating” the mine would be to let it fill with water naturally, perhaps to become a recreational lake. The hitch: it would take more than a hundred years to fill naturally and the water quality would be terrible due to pollution from coal seams.

ENGIE, the French company that owns two of Victoria's coal power stations, announced on November 2 it will close the oldest, Hazelwood, by March, and is selling the other, Loy Yang B. The power stations are in the Latrobe Valley, east of Melbourne.

Hazelwood Power Station, Australia’s dirtiest power generator and many decades past its “use by” date, will finally close on March 31.

Hazelwood’s closure is symbolic because of its size, its history and because it provides 20% of Victoria’s power. But technological advances and environmental concerns have finally caught up with it.

In May, majority owner ENGIE’s CEO Isabelle Kocher said the company was reviewing its remaining coal plants one by one and would close those with the most outdated technology.

Protesters gathered in Melbourne on August 8 to urge the replacement Hazelwood Power Station with renewable energy.

Australia's dirtiest power station, Hazelwood is owned by Engie France and Mitsui Japan.

According to the OECD it is one of the world's most polluting power stations, both in terms of the toxic cocktail of chemicals it daily emits and its carbon emissions.

Hazelwood is also Australia's least efficient power station and a major consumer of water: 1.31 megalitres of water is consumed per gigawatt hour of power generated.

The Victorian Environment Protection Authority is expected to file 12 air pollution charges against the Hazelwood power station operator, GDF Suez, over the Morwell coalmine fire.

The fire burned for 45 days in 2014, covering Morwell in smoke and ash. Residents were advised to leave by health authorities.

An inquiry found GDF Suez had failed to adequately prepare for the fire, which was sparked by a nearby bushfire, and that the fire probably contributed to increased deaths in the region.

Clearfelling old growth forest in Tasmania. Previously destroyed for woodchips, native forests are now in danger of being burned to create electricity.

Reports that the owner of Victoria’s Hazelwood coal power station, GDF Suez, has been considering plans to convert it into a co-firing facility, allowing it to burn native forest waste as well as brown coal, have been slammed by environmentalists.

On May 28 members and supporters of Climate Action Moreland rallied to urge the government to close Hazelwood power station.

Hazelwood is Australia’s dirtiest power station. Burning brown coal in Hazelwood creates 15% of Victoria’s greenhouse pollution, a huge 16 million tonnes a year. It uses 27 billion litres of water a year, and it's Australia’s biggest emitter of dangerous dioxins. It is old, inefficient and hopelessly out-of-date.


Watch a film: Roque Dalton — Let’s Shoot the Night on Saturday May 30 at 12.30pm. Hosted by Latin American Community Association. Marooka Community Centre, 40 Gainsborough St, Brisbane.

Come to a film: Ivory Tower on Thursday Jun 4 at 5.30pm. The film examines the recent student debt crisis through a broad spectrum of institutions and startling statistics that directly address concerns for the future of higher education. Geelong Trades Hall, 127 Myers Street. Bookings visit eventbrite.com.au. Presented by the NTEU.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine is living up to his new nickname, “Naptime”, as the Hazelwood coalmine fire continues its terrible impact on the town of Morwell in the Latrobe Valley.

The edge of the town is only a few hundred metres from where the fire has been burning since February 9. The plume of toxic smoke and ash from the fire has been blanketing the town.


Subscribe to Hazelwood power station