King Coal
he news that NSW will build two (possibly
three) new power stations comes as a shock,
and the announcement that, despite all we
know about the dangers of COČ emissions,
there is every likelihood that these
ities will be coal fired, beggars belief.
However, while COČ emissions grab the
headlines, identifying that coal-fired electricity
accounts for a huge slice of NSW's escalating
emissions, the pollution generated by these
power stations is arguably deadly.
Here are a few truths about coal and coal-
fired power generation. The mining process
alone has enormous social and environmental
costs. Valuable biodiversity, wildlife habitat,
and agricultural land is lost in the first
instance. Subsurface water systems are
diverted, drained, or polluted. The mining
process then risks the immediate locality
being polluted by coal dust, something that
has led to the premature deaths of hundreds of
thousands of people worldwide over the
years, and continues to do so today in
countries like China.
Precious water is used here to suppress the
dust, but dust is not the only pollutant. We
have been given details of diesel usage of a
small coal mine, Stratford, near Gloucester,
which uses up to a million litres of this non-
renewable resource each month. Oil
production has already passed its peak. If one
small mine uses that much diesel, imagine
how much is used in coal-mining Australia
wide, not to mention the oil consumed in
transport for exporting that poisonous product
around the world.
Australia is a country that struggles to provide
its citizens with water, and has failed in many
instances to adequately provide the envir-
onment with this vitally important element. It
is reported that coal-fired electricity
production accounts for 20% of all water
consumption (Professor Tim Flannery, ABC
7.30 Report, January 2010). As Mr Flannery
put it,
“You want to save water, turn off a
But now to the real pollution issues! What
else do these polluters pump into the air we
In 2009 Macquarie Generation paid the
Department of Environment, Climate Change
31 Skinner St, South Grafton 2460
Phone / Fax 66 43 1863