Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has completed its licence review of three brown coal fire stations in the Gippsland region: Yallourn, Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B.
The Yallourn Power Station, owned by EnergyAustralia, provides 22 per cent of Victoria’s electricity and about 8 per cent of Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).
AGL owns the Loy Yang A power station whilst Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited acquired the Loy Yang B power station in January 2018. Loy Yang A and B fuel around 50 per cent of the state’s energy requirements.
The EPA consulted with the public extensively during the review and received 493 submissions from the community.
The new conditions on the licences aim to protect the local environment and health of the local community, and provide greater transparency for Victorians.
Following consultation, the EPA has made changes to all three licences with regards to air emissions and wastewater. It has changed Yallourn and Loy Yang A’s licences to require rehabilitation plans for their ash landfills and dust controls. There are other new conditions for the three sites:
- The EPA has added limits for mercury, fine particles (PM5) and coarse particles (PM10) to each licence.
- The EPA has reduced air discharge limits for most parameters on each licence.
- The three power stations are required to monitor air emission continuously and share the data with the community through each company’s website. This will ensure licence non-compliances are dealt with in a transparent and timely manner.
- Yallourn is required to install a continuous emissions monitoring system to be able to monitor in real-time oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide (the other two power stations already have this capability).
- For consistency across the three licences, exemption hours for startups and shutdowns for Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B have been aligned to a maximum of 88 hours per year and now include exceedance of mass emission rates. Yallourn has been afforded 600 hours (reduced from 1200 hours) due to the frequency of its startups and shutdowns because of its age.
- The EPA has added a requirement to include the monitoring of class three indicators under the licence. Class three indicators are extremely hazardous substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, highly toxic or highly persistent, and which may threaten the beneficial uses of the air environment. This data will inform what additional action will be required.
- Licence holders have to continually assess the practicability of upgrading key air emission control technologies at their plants.
- Wastewater discharge limits for most parameters on each licence so that they are consistent with the Environment Protection Amendment Act
EPA Executive Director of Regulatory Standards, Assessments and Permissioning, Tim Eaton, said through the licence review emission limits have been reduced and the community will have the best information about the emissions coming from power stations in a timely matter.
“EPA’s review involved updating licence conditions, limits, and administrative details. EPA’s licence review program aims to ensure they are consistent with policy, are enforceable and meet community expectations,” he commented.
From 1 July 2021, EPA will begin to further amend all licences to ensure consistency with the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (the Act). Under this, all licences holders will have to comply with the general environmental duty.
For stationary sources of air emissions, for example, it will be a requirement to consider the installation of emission control technologies to minimise risks to human health and the environment, so far as reasonably practicable.
The Climate Change Act 2017 establishes a long-term target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In issuing new power station licences, EPA states that it has acted in accordance with current policy and regulation.