SYDNEY – Coal-fired power plants in Australia emit higher levels of air pollution than those permitted in the United States, Europe or China, according to a report released on Tuesday by NGO Environmental Justice Australia.
A study by the EJA, entitled “Toxic and Terminal: How Regulations of Coal-Fired Stations Fail Australian Communities,” claims that coal-fired power plants emit more than 30 toxic substances in Australia, and are the main source of fine particles, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in air pollution.
Australia produces more than one million tons of pollutants each year, according to the study.
“In most cases emissions limits in Australia are much more lax than those in the US, EU and China,” the NGO said in a statement.
The report indicated that power plant operators have yet to adopt pollution reduction technologies, and noted that one of the operators even admitted having falsified reports on pollutant emission.
Despite evidence of failures to comply with the pollution license conditions, none of the power plants in New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland have been formally prosecuted in the past ten years.
About 900,000 Australians living near these coal-fired power plants on the country’s east coast are at risk of acquiring respiratory diseases such as asthma and are more susceptible to strokes or heart attacks, the study claims.
The EJA also pointed out that 87 percent of sulfur dioxide found in Sydney, Australia’s most populated city with over 4 million residents, is generated by five plants in New South Wales.
Pollution from power plants causes about 1,590 premature deaths annually in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, according to lawyer Nicola Rivers, who co-authored the report.
EJA concluded its study by urging the Australian government to conduct an independent study into the health impact of these coal-fired power stations and to reduce toxic pollution in accordance with international standards.