Concerns over historic asbestos exposure at Liddell Power Plant as decommissioning date set

Concerns over historic asbestos exposure at Liddell Power Plant as decommissioning date set

New South Wales’ Liddell Power Station is planned to be decommissioned by the state’s government in 2022. The first generation unit is being taken offline in the next twelve months and the remaining units to be close in April of 2023.

Last week the NSW branch of the Environmental Protection Authority fined the plant’s owner, AGL Macquarie Pty Ltd, $15,000 over allegations of air pollution offences.

The plant was fined for exceeding the licensed solid particle concentration limit for emissions from the four active boilers in August and September of 2020.

NSW EPA Director Regulatory Operations Adam Gilligan said:”This alleged outcome should serve as a reminder that environmental incidents such as these can come at a significant cost.”

AGL is required to carry out rectification works to ensure that the particle concentration limit isn’t exceeded again, and also received an official caution for exceeding the limit during the same period.

One environmental charity noted that AGL has breached their environmental licenses more than 110 times since 2015, which have cost the company around $1.3 million.

Fellow coal-fired plant Vales Point also drew the ire of the EPA, and was fined $30,000 last year for license breaches that included contamination of the site by various hazardous materials, including asbestos.

While the plans are still being prepared for the actual demolition and remediation of the Liddell site, a group of former employees and local residents has met with a lawyer who once acted for the late asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton to discuss exposure to asbestos fibres and other workplace hazards at the site.

Tanya Segelov, from Segelov Taylor Lawyers, explained that “asbestos is a big issue in the community, especially among the elderly.

“Plus, people are living longer – they’re only being diagnosed now.

“Asbestos diseases have a latency period of 20-40 years, which means that we are seeing them get sick from their work in the 1970s and 1980s.

“This includes employees at the Liddell Power Station, which was full of asbestos.”

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