Greenpeace joins forces with Port Augusta Dustbusters

STOP THE DUST: Port Augusta Dustbusters members Nicolette Fitzgerald, Mat Prentis, Brett Prentis and Amanda Bethell are excited by the group's new partnership with Greenpeace.
STOP THE DUST: Port Augusta Dustbusters members Nicolette Fitzgerald, Mat Prentis, Brett Prentis and Amanda Bethell are excited by the group's new partnership with Greenpeace.

The Port Augusta Dustbusters have teamed up with Greenpeace in a bid to fast track the remediation of the Augusta Power Stations site.

Greenpeace launched a Justice for Port Augusta campaign, including a video and a crowdfunder, with the aim of raising $10,000 to create newspaper and online ads.

Greenpeace and Dustbusters hope that an ad campaign will attract Premier Jay Weatherill, Leader of the Opposition Steven Marshall or SA-Best Leader Nick Xenophon to take action.

The remediation project would include getting the site, including Bird Lake and the ash dams, to a best practice standard to stop the spread of dust from the decommissioned coal-fired power station.

Dustbusters member Dr Amanda Bethell, who was named the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners GP of the Year in 2017, said the health of the community remains at risk.

“Small dust particles generated from the site can get into your lungs and enter your bloodstream causing health problems ranging from a scratchy throat and watery eyes to exacerbations of respiratory conditions and potentially increasing long term cancer risk,” Dr Bethell said.

“What makes this situation even worse is that Flinders Power could see this coming when they shut their plant.

“It’s unacceptable and unjust and feels like yet another ‘out of sight, out of mind’ non-response from the government.” 

In addition to a long-term remediation solution, the Dustbusters are demanding short-term management of the dust issues, as well as an investigation into the health effects caused by the plant and its closure.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said the dust contains unknown chemical elements from the coal-fired power plant.

“The site is not being remediated adequately or quickly enough and residents feel their health is being put at risk by the failures of Flinders Power, the EPA (Environment Protection Authority) and the state government,” she said. 

“With the issue having dragged on for more than a year now they are calling on South Australia’s political leaders to prioritise the health of their community and clean up coal’s harmful legacy for good.”

EPA conducted a dust analysis in December 2017, finding the majority of the dust contained soil and minerals, with traces of coal.

Flinders Power were contacted but unable to comment.