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Issue #1635      April 16, 2014

Hazelwood coal mine fire

Submissions to inquiry

The Hazelwood coal mine fire in Victoria burned for more than six weeks. The Morwell city was blanketed in toxic smoke and ash making residents sick. Nearby towns also experienced smoke and ash particulate. Residents at the inquiry Morwell complained that the state government’s assistance wasn’t good enough; it purchased vacuum cleaners to loan to residents, gave away buckets, cleaning equipment and car wash and laundry vouchers. Other residents complained that the state government has not put any money on the table to help get rid of the toxic ash in ceiling cavities and driveways and garages.

Insurance companies are unlikely to pay up as many policies do not cover fires and bush fires unless they get within ten metres of your home. Every policy has different terms and conditions and it depends upon those conditions if any claim is paid. It also will depend upon whether or not the Insurance Council declares a catastrophic event, which is unlikely. The state government says it won’t commit to helping those who miss out on insurance coverage but say it will consider it.

The long term health effects of the inhalation of the particulates (soot) are known but the state health authorities have failed to inform the local residents of the hazardous nature of their exposure such as carcinogenic and cardiovascular effects. Burning coal releases many toxic heavy metals such as mercury, chromium, cadmium and arsenic. Some of the gases produced are sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.

The Communist Party has put a written submission into the inquiry detailing the long term health effects of the coal mine fire.

info@hazelwoodinquiry.vic.gov.au

Next article – Sydney’s Domain and Botanic Gardens threatened

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