Friends of Latrobe Water has a real concern with the latest release of the National Pollution Inventory (NPI) data. AGL’s three power stations increased their combined emissions of mercury by 29%. That’s a staggering 1050kg mercury in one year. And adds to AGL’s increases the previous year of 31%, 76% and 31% respectively.  

Compared to NSW, our three power stations emit almost five times more mercury than their top five stations, which together emit 216kg a year.  

Despite an 8% drop in electricity generation, just one power station, AGL’s Loy Yang increased its mercury emissions by 31%.

Why is this so? Could it be that, unlike NSW, our power stations don’t have the fabric bag filters that NSW have that would catch the mercury. So why hasn’t the EPA required them to install bag filters? 

Well, here’s the reason: the Great Big Get Out Clause! 

Under the EPA Act’s General Environmental Duty, the power generators must take “reasonably practicable” action to eliminate or minimise risks of harm. However, what is “reasonably practicable” includes the cost to install the filters compared to how effective it would be in reducing harm.  

If the power generators say that it’s too expensive to install them, that could be an excuse for doing nothing to stop the pollution.

If this is so, then it is quite clear that the new EPA law is not protecting us from serious harm to our health and our environment. 

Meanwhile: tonnes of mercury, which winds can carry 1000 kms, is airborne over Gippsland, settling in waterways, water tanks, on vegetable farms and playgrounds. The recent inclusion of mercury as a potential carcinogen recognises mercury as one of the world’s most dangerous toxins. There is no known safe exposure level. Converted to methylmercury, it can cause fetal defects and neurological problems in growing children. 

Beware! Take Care! Don’t drink the water! Don’t eat the fish! Don’t breathe the air! 

But what exactly is the cost of the filters? Is it millions of dollars or hundreds? And who will pay?  

Yep, you guessed it, the cost of NO filters is being shifted from the power station owners to you and me. We will bear the health costs to our lives of mercury poisoning just as the people of the Latrobe Valley suffer death and disease from the disastrous Hazelwood fire. 

The pollution regulator, the Environmental Protection (EPA), is meant to protect us from harm. When it fails to enforce the law, it protects the interests of the power station owners over ours. And in doing so, it acts as the facilitator of our harm. Now that is truly shocking! 

Important Health warning: The EPA can no longer protect us or our environment. 


As published in the Latrobe Valley Express – 13 April 2023