First Victorian #coal domino falls: @takvera reports on Alcoa #Anglesea power Station closure

A protest at the edge of the Anglesea coal mine. Photo: John Englart

A protest at the edge of the Anglesea coal mine. Photo: John Englart

While renewables are being encouraged by the Andrews Government with the proposal for a Victorian Renewable Energy Target, the first domino in Victoria’s brown coal fired power industry has succumbed.

Alcoa announced this week it would be closing it’s 50MW high sulphur dioxide polluting coal fired power station and mine at Anglesea at the end of August, 2015. Since the Alcoa Port Henry Aluminium Smelter closed in 2014, which used all the power generated and more, this power station has been targeted for closure by the local community in particular the Surf Coast Air Action group, saying the social licence and justification has ended.

SCAA spokesperson Andrew Laird said in a media release, “This is a great outcome for the Anglesea community and for clean air in Australia. It also shows that coal impacted communities can achieve big things when they work together. While we are delighted that the redundant facility will finally close we are also very mindful about the remaining workers and call upon Alcoa to make sure that those who don’t wish to take a redundancy package are deployed onto the massive rehabilitation task.”

The deep pit of Anglesea coal mine, 60m below sea level. Photo: John Englart

The deep pit of Anglesea coal mine, 60m below sea level. Photo: John Englart

Alcoa had the mine and power station on the market to sell, but it has been unable to find a buyer. It was already a stranded asset awaiting closure.

The real test of the companies commitment to the local community and it’s workers will come with mine rehabilitation. Mark Smith from SCAA said, “Proper rehabilitation of the National Estate listed Anglesea Heath will be a huge task. It also provides great opportunities for a win win outcome as coal mine rehabilitation is a job rich activity.”

Tom Arup in the Age, considers the issues in Cleaning up Anglesea power plant a mere trial run for what awaits in the Valley.

There are continuing calls for the GDF Suez Australia Energy owned Hazellwood coal power station and it’s Morwell mine to be closed down and be rehabilitated with a transition plan formulated by the government and local community.

The Andrews Government kept it’s election promise to re-open the Morwell Mine fire inquiry which will re-examine impacts of smoke on health and whether it caused premature deaths, but of equal importance, it will also consider and make recommendations on how coal mines should be rehabilitated.

One reason why Alcoa may have decided to close the mine and power station is to avoid the possibility of increased mine rehabilitation bonds and increased stringent guidelines for mine rehabilitation. By jumping early, the company is hoping to avoid extra expense.

With mine rehabilitation, will Alcoa live up to their pronouncements of supporting the community that has supported their profits for the last 46 years?

The local Anglesea community is determined to make Alcoa good on their announcements of community support with regard to rehabilitation.

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  1. This is great news