Anglesea residents calls for air pollution cleanup

Media Release - Anglesea Air Action - 25 November 2012

On Saturday 24th November residents and visitors to Anglesea met at the local community centre to attend Anglesea Air Action’s weekend meeting. Representatives from national organisations including Doctors for the Environment, Quit Coal, Beyond Zero Emissions and the Australian Students Environment Network spoke with Anglesea residents about the future possibilities for clean, safe and healthy air and environment for Anglesea.

“After moving here a number of years ago it was shocking for me to find out about the pollutants released by the Alcoa owned power station and coal mine. It seems clear that there is international medical and scientific evidence and agreement that there are no safe levels of hazardous emissions such as fine dust particles and sulphur dioxide both of which are released in very high quantities in Anglesea. It seems incredible that Alcoa is able to release these pollutants at much higher and hazardous levels here in Australia compared to what their own US Environmental Protection Authority would allow.” Regina Gleeson, Anglesea Resident.

The group spoke of the value of the Anglesea township, surrounding heath land and in particular, the vibrant but vulnerable community.

“Like many others, my wife and I are raising a young family in Anglesea with the aim of providing them with a safe and healthy up-bringing. To discover that we are all exposed to levels of pollution, which have been acknowledged by the principal scientist of our own Victorian Environmental Protection Authority, as posing a significant health risk, demands immediate action. The adverse health effects from coal mining and combustion on human health, especially in children whose respiratory and cardiovascular systems are vulnerable to damage during their development, have been medically and scientifically established beyond doubt. There is a groundswell of sentiment amongst Anglesea residents for a move away from the old and polluting coal fired power generation to new technology which does not pose a risk to our health and the health of our children,” Dr Cameron Shaw, Anglesea Resident.

Positive solutions for Anglesea were the focus of the day with discussions including the need to continue to encourage both State and Federal Governments to adopt more stringent air quality standards in keeping with international trends.

Innovative and exciting projects such as a “Re-power Point Henry” report were enthusiastically discussed where Beyond Zero Emissions will explore in detail the currently available safe energy options for Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter. The report will include an analysis of the economic and employment costs and opportunities of a transition toward clean and safe energy generation for Point Henry such that the continuation of the Aluminium industry in Victoria is sustainable in the long term.

“I am encouraged that this meeting has had a positive focus for the future of Anglesea. It is not anti Alcoa but pro health and pro Anglesea which, as a long term resident, is very pleasing to hear.” Terri Troup, Anglesea Resident.

Contributing to and facilitating the discussions were a number of university students from Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

“It was amazing to hear about how a grass roots organization like Anglesea Air Action has grown over the past few years. Anglesea is such a beautiful place and it’s really clear how much the people from Anglesea Air Action love their town and community and want to protect themselves, their children and the environment from the pollution and environmental damage caused by the mine and really old power station. It was a massive shock to all of us to see how close the coal mine and power station are to this beautiful sea-side town.” Emma Mezzatesta, Australian Student Environment Network

The students from ASEN are on a ‘listening and learning’ road trip through Victoria, visiting communities affected by coal mining and combustion.

“Anglesea was our first stop and it was really inspiring to listen to a group of committed and caring people all working together to try and figure out and work toward a safe and sustainable future for their town and community.” Tim Kefford, Australian Student Environment Network