Hazelwood – Australia’s dirtiest power

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Hazelwood power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley has long been recognised as the dirtiest power plant in the country, and one of the least efficient in the world. Burning brown coal from its adjacent mine, Hazelwood emits more carbon per unit of energy produced than almost any other power station operating today. This single source accounts for around 3% of Australia’s total annual carbon emissions, and almost 15% of Victoria’s.

After many years of campaigning from a wide range of environmental and community organisations, it was announced in November 2016 that the dinosaur plant will close in March 2017. While this is great news for the environment, every effort must be made to ensure Hazelwood’s employees are supported to transition into work in sustainable industries.

Hazelwood Power Station
Credit: Greenpeace / Hunt

BankTotal loaned (AU$millions)Number of deals
ANZ$3793
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ$2152
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation$1581
Royal Bank of Scotland$1251
BNP Paribas$801
Société Générale$781
WestLB$751
CommBank$711
Bank of Scotland$631
Crédit Agricole$631
Westpac$541
NordLB$491
DBS Bank$381
Dexia$381
Bank of America$351
United Overseas Bank$271
Crédit Industriel et Commercial$211
WestLB (now Portigon Financial Services)$191

Proudly supported by ANZ

Having been designed and commissioned in the 1960’s, the dirty brown coal plant should have been shut down years ago. But with the help of over $1.5 billion worth of loans since 2008, Hazelwood has been allowed to continue to pollute our air and contribute to climate change.

Westpac and CommBank have loaned $50m and $70m respectively, but ANZ is by far the biggest financial backer, having provided over $400 million worth of loans. The latest ANZ loan came just months after the toxic 2014 fire. Valued at $300m, the loan expired in June 2016.

Fire no deterrent

For 45 days during February and March 2014 the Hazelwood coal mine was on fire, the open pit having been ignited by bushfire embers. The fire spewed toxic smoke that engulfed the nearby town of Morwell, where particulate pollution was clocked at over twenty times times the safe limit.

Damningly, an inquiry into the fire linked it to a spike in deaths in the area. French owners Engie are facing a myriad of charges from both Worksafe and the EPA over the toxic fire.

And yet, just a few months later ANZ chipped in a massive $300m to a refinancing deal that enabled Hazelwood to continue operating. CommBank also contributed $72m to that deal.

Hazelwood coal mine fire, February 2014
Credit: CFA Communities & Communication