The Hazelwood coal fire, currently causing severe health issues in the community of Morwell, should stand as a frightening reminder of the lack of controls and care in the coal industry, Lock the Gate said today.
Victorian coordinator for Lock the Gate Ursula Alquier said the fire was the result of shameful neglect and demonstrated the blatant disregard for the health of local people by the coal industry.
“The community of the La Trobe Valley is saying NO to any more coal mines. This out of control fire is the result of years of the coal industry thumbing its nose at environmental regulation and the health interests of local people,” Ms Alquier said.
“The site of this fire was supposed to have been remediated yet had been left to languish. It appears that there was no system in place to control a bush fire from getting out of control in this massive coal pit. Yet this area is prone to bush fires.
“The government is proposing the extraction of an additional 13 billion tonne of coal from the pits in the La Trobe Valley but it has demonstrated that it cannot protect local people from the impacts of mining.
“I had to drive through the area today and as a result still have a burning sensation in my eyes.
“Lock the Gate is getting reports from local people of ill health, sore eyes, severe asthma, sick children and sick pets. Ashes from the fire are reining down on the town of Morwell and people are fearful for their health and that of their children.
“Lock the Gate stands in solidarity with the people of Morwell and surrounding districts and calls on the government to properly assist those wanting to escape the impact of this disgraceful coal fire.
“Lock the Gate calls on the government to make coal mining companies accountable for their health and environmental impacts and joins the La Trobe Valley community in saying No to any expansion of this dirty industry.”
Further information contact: Ursula Alquier on 0499 991 324