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Health & Wellness  (tags: Austraila, LaTrobe Valley, power station, coal-mine fire, toxic fumes, respiratory illness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, third world conditions, zero govt response )

- 1007 days ago -
Hazelwood Power station has a coal-mine fire expelling toxic smoke over Morwell & surrounding areas within Latrobe Valley. Serious concerns over high levels of carbon monoxide in smoke pouring from blaze in Hazelwood open-cut mine started over 4wks ago!

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Sam Dyson (55)
Monday March 3, 2014, 7:34 am
Some may remember the story I posted 3 weeks ago here about the fires burning in southern Oz.
These fires are in a disused/abandoned open-cut coal pit, that was not properly rehabilitated when discontinued. This is dne by covering any/all exposed coal with clay, and then revegetating the site--to prevent exactly this type of event occuring. At the time Hazelton Power Station 'changed hands', the happy new onwers/managers in their 'wisdom' (about keeping profits for better uses than rehab'ing the damaged and exposed environment)...decided it would be an 'unlikely' event.

The Petition

The Emergency Management Act 1986 sets up arrangements to provide for the management and organisation of the prevention, response and recovery phases of emergencies, involving all relevant government and non-government agencies.

The Act defines emergency broadly, as the actual or imminent occurrence of an event that endangers the safety or health of persons, or which destroys, damages or threatens property or endangers or threatens the environment in Victoria. Victoria's arrangements are, accordingly, operative for any relevant incident.

Hazelwood Power station has a coal-mine fire expelling toxic smoke over a Morwell and surrounding areas within the Latrobe Valley.  This should be declared a state of emergency.

Serious concerns over the air quality in Morwell and high levels of carbon monoxide in the smoke pouring from the blaze in the Hazelwood open-cut mine started nealy four weeks ago.

The first responsibility of a government is to protect its people and that is not happening.

natasha salgado (715)
Monday March 3, 2014, 8:48 am
Signed-thx Sam

Sue H. (6)
Monday March 3, 2014, 9:12 am
Noted and signed, thanks.

Franshisca Dearmas (89)
Monday March 3, 2014, 9:12 am
Noted and signed. TY Sam

Sonia Minwer Barakat Reque (64)
Monday March 3, 2014, 9:17 am
S&N,thanks for sharing

Christeen Anderson (627)
Monday March 3, 2014, 10:10 am

Animae C. (518)
Monday March 3, 2014, 12:36 pm
i've been watching this situation develop with disgust, Hazelwood Power station & the govt are 100% responsible for ALL damage & health effects of this catastrophe!

with 390 supporters


Nicole L. (79)
Monday March 3, 2014, 2:00 pm

Rose Becke (141)
Monday March 3, 2014, 2:52 pm
Thanks for signing.

Ondine J. (134)
Monday March 3, 2014, 8:31 pm
Noted and signed, thanks Sam

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 2:18 am
signed, thanks

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 2:44 am
Thank You, Sam.

Signed. 462 needed

Anne S. (14)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 2:57 am
Thank you Sam!

Unnikrishnan Sasidharan (44)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 5:00 am

Nancy C. (806)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 6:17 am
ty Sam 557th

Aaron Bouchard (158)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 9:31 am
signed and noted thanks

Jabi Yeonnmin (164)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 10:26 am

norma laborie (33)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 1:16 pm

Henrik Thorsen (31)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 1:33 pm

Madhu Pillai (22)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 2:31 pm

Yvonne Taylor (37)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 3:21 pm
Signed with comment, thanks

Vicky P. (476)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 8:52 pm
noted, signed

Colleen L. (3)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 9:19 pm
Petition signed. Thanks Sam

Lynda H. (119)
Tuesday March 4, 2014, 10:32 pm
I’ve noted this article out of courtesy, but I won’t be signing the petition.

Smoke is not pleasant: I know, because I was in the middle of 4 major bushfires in 2009. The following year there was so much burning off to reduce fire danger in the bush that the smoke was almost as bad. I suffer a lung condition myself.

But I didn’t waste time and energy blaming anyone. Sure, things could have been done better: there were problems with government/emergency services and volunteer organizations, but mistakes are going to happen with such a mammoth task. I am responsible for my own health, well-being and safety, and when I needed some assistance, it was available and offered freely. I know the residents of Morwell are uncomfortable, and I feel for them, but if they are vulnerable and ask for assistance they will receive it. Let’s be grateful for what we’ve got instead of constantly looking for someone to blame.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday March 5, 2014, 3:16 am

Kerstin Strobl (369)
Wednesday March 5, 2014, 4:33 am

Sam Dyson (55)
Wednesday March 5, 2014, 7:54 am
I definately hear what you're saying Lynda H...but it is more than simple bushfire smoke that's 'a bit unpleasant''s a coal-fire...burning along the face ofthe open-cut pit...and worse...brown/dirty coal. Much more particulate matter than wood-fire smoke. More akin to tobacco smoke with tar and other nasty toxic chemicals....

Excerpt From article on ABC Australia:
In Morwell in Victoria, bushfires have ignited the coal seam face in an open cut mine which supplies a nearby electricity plant. Such coal fires, says University of Queensland mining safety expert Professor David Ce surface so anything that intrudes into the mine will set fire to the seam," says Cliff.

Like all fires, coal fires require the three basic elements of carbon, oxygen and heat to interact, and that reaction produces carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

But it doesn't necessarily take an external catalyst like a bushfire to start one, says Cliff.

"Spontaneous combustion is a well understood phenomenon. Coal, and particularly brown coal, is very reactive to oxygen, and will generate CO2 and that creates heat.

As the coal gets hotter it will eventually get to flame temperature and that coal will burn."

Common phenomenon
Coal fires, he says, are quite common.

"In Australia for example on average one underground coal mine has a major incident with the self-heating of coal every year, and you would find there would be a number of open cut mines that would be battling self-heating coal now."

Coal miners work to minimise interaction between air and coal to try to remove as much heat as possible and reduce the fire risk.

"Surface mines spray water to keep the seam cool. If coal is stockpiled they will often place a coating over the top to keep the air out, and design stockpiles so that wind doesn't blow too much air into them and cause the coal to oxidise."

In Victoria, says Cliff, coal is historically not stockpiled but mined by massive machines and sent straight to the power stations to burn.

"They don't like keeping it. If they do it dries out and starts reacting."

It is possible for coal to burn for many years if there is enough of it, says Cliff.

"There are a number of places known as 'burning mountains' in Australia where there are old underground coal deposits and cracks to the surface with smoke issuing from them. It will burn and continue to burn and can be very difficult to put out because the access to it is very deep."

He says there are fires both in Australia and overseas which are still burning after hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years.

One of these, at Burning Mountain in New South Wales,is a natural coal fire that has been going for at least 6000 years, burning at the rate of about one metre a year.

Cliff says coal fires can present a range of hazards.

Along with carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, coal fires emit water vapour, soot, dust and sulphur dioxide, all of which disperse quite quickly but can be a significant problem to a local population depending on how close they are to the fire and what the weather is like at the time.

The bigger picture effect is a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the output of a coal fired power station.

Spot fires are likely when a bushfire burns into a coal seam as the fire spreads back into the bush. Last year. for example, a bushfire at Catherine Hill Bay in New South Wales was sparked by an underground coal fire.

Subsidence can occur in an underground mine but with an open cut would just be a localised collapse of a narrow band of the coal face and unlikely to be very hazardous as firefighters are unable to get that close.

Lynda H. (119)
Thursday March 6, 2014, 2:09 am
Hi Sam :) I’m not minimising the discomfort of the people living there by any means. What I observe in this campaign is the very human tendency to ‘blame’ a person, a ‘greedy corporation’, or a ‘corrupt and useless government’ when we are stressed, frightened or frustrated, especially when coping with a disaster.

In this case, we can blame one human for lighting the fire, but the capture, trial and incarceration of the arsonist will not help those affected right now. If the mining corporation failed to make the site safe then I’m sure they will be held accountable, but that will not help those affected right now. It isn’t the government’s fault (not that I have much faith in Denis Napthine’s government), and as far as I’ve read they have offered a great deal of assistance to vulnerable residents. I fail to see what actual difference it would make to the Latrobe Valley if the situation was labelled a ‘state of emergency’.

Whenever there is uncertainty, fear and frustration, there is always some political opposition spokesperson agitating that it’s the government’s fault, that they aren’t doing their job, that they are looking after themselves and their rich mates while their citizens suffer, etc. This is an unethical political tactic, and one we should never support.

Sergio Padilla (63)
Friday March 7, 2014, 1:42 pm
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