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The Hunter Community Environment Centre’s (HCEC's) recently released dirt file scrutinises the practices of Delta Electricity and Delta Coal under private ownership and publicises new findings of environmental impacts from Vales Point power station and associated underground coal mines in the Southern Lake Macquarie estuary.

Delta Electricity and Delta Coal have breached environmental protection license conditions 57 times since 2015, including for illegal asbestos dumping, ash dust pollution events and exceedances of water quality protection limits.

“In addition to Delta’s non-compliances, the apparent cost-cutting approach taken to the management of an already outdated piece of infrastructure is seen to be exacerbating pollution and degrading the health of the lake; water and sediment quality, copious marine species and seagrass are all facing effects.” Jo Lynch of the HCEC said.

The loss of seagrass in Wyee Bay due to excessive thermal pollution is estimated by HCEC to total over 50 hectares and, as GIPA documents reveal, arose from successive increases to Vales Point outlet temperature limits approved by NSW EPA between 2005 and 2016.

A significant loss from which seagrass has not yet recovered, according to the latest Seagrass Monitoring Project report prepared for Delta showing further declines over the period of 2021/2022.

“The former seagrass nurseries of Lake Macquarie need to be rescued well before the closure of both Eraring and Vale’s Point power stations.

“The restoration of the Lake ecosystem damaged by decades of operation, must be of top priority,” David Ransom of Keep Lake Macquarie Clean said.

The report contains previously unpublished documents, accessed under the GIPA Act detailing the cooling water systems and impacts of the Lake Macquarie power stations, including the potential interaction of thermal pollution and chlorine produced on-site at Vales Point used to “de-foul” ie. keep the outlet canal free of encrusted marine biota.

Among seven recommendations, HCEC has called for a $100,000 increase to the penalty the NSW EPA awards to industrial polluters for breaches, and for sizable investment on behalf of the owners to a seagrass rehabilitation fund that will repair the damage of thermal pollution.

You can read the whole dirt file here 

Contact details

CALL 02 4349 4756

PO Box 149 Ourimbah NSW 2258

FM Building, Central Coast Campus,
University of Newcastle,
Loop Road, Ourimbah,
NSW, 2258


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