Latrobe Valley Air Pollution

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:50): (1878) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio in the other place, and the action I seek from the minister is for her to fund a real-time air-monitoring system using the best available technology, such as an XRF machine or better—an XRF is an X-ray fluorescence lead-monitoring machine—and also to facilitate community engagement to assist in how this data will be monitored, read and interpreted for the community.

Members of the Latrobe Valley advocacy group ALiVe Gippsland and other concerned Hazelwood North residents are concerned about whether the Andrews government-endorsed, Chinese-owned Chunxing used lead-acid battery recycling facility being planned for and constructed in Fourth Road, Morwell, will meet the highest standards to meet their approval for their health and wellbeing. They are primarily concerned about the ULAB’s close proximity to the Hazelwood North school that is less than 2 kilometres from door to door and also local homes and farms.

While the Latrobe Valley has an air monitoring system called the Latrobe Valley Information Network that monitors particulate matter PM1, PM2.5, PM10, carbon dioxide, wind temperature and humidity, it is not designed to monitor lead emissions, which poses a great concern, noting the plant is licensed to emit up to 54 kilograms annually as a by-product of fugitive emissions from the process of lead recycling. I note that this should be expanded to include the Hazelwood North area because at the moment there is not an LVIN air monitoring system in that Hazelwood North area. As they have made representations to me over time, I endorse ALiVe’s call for this lead monitoring system—as I have called it, an X-ray fluorescence machine. They are used primarily where lead smelters occur, and they are in other parts of our country, other states, but require a secondary particulate filter to validate the data.

Understanding that real-time, scientific readings will avail families of some transparency and oversight so that they can make decisions around their daily activities depending on the readings and the weather conditions, ALiVe also argues that the health innovation zone needs to be embedded in a more rigorous matter. The government’s own website goes to the health innovation. It gives a voice to community aspirations and the planning and delivery of better health outcomes and wellbeing outcomes and where the process of co-design with individuals and organisations is actively encouraged. It is also off the back of the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry. That is all well and good, but they want to see outcomes, and they would like this lead monitoring system to be put in place and the minister to fund it.