Exploring the Perceived Health, Community, and Employment Impacts of an Announced Closure of a Coal-Fired Power Station in Upper Hunter Valley, Australia
The announcement by AGL Energy Ltd. that it would close its aging Liddell coal-fired thermal power station outside of Muswellbrook in New South Wales, Australia, in 2022 and concentrate on energy generation from renewable sources produced the ideal opportunity to conduct a study of how accepting communities in the Upper Hunter Valley (UHV) were of the closure of the power station. A mixed-methods approach was conducted by means of focus group meetings and interviews using qualitative data, as well as surveys collecting qualitative and quantitative data. Analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data showed that the communities were divided regarding issues about personal and family health. Of the respondents, 71% clearly agreed that the transition away from coal would have a significant impact on the economic and social life of UHV communities. Although there was a suggestion of an authority being established to guide the transition, a renewable energy hub would seem to be an important development opportunity. Before initiating changes that could lead to a transition, the author believes that the underlying culture of ignorance should be extinguished. The lack of understanding about toxic chemicals and health, as well as the lack of knowledge about renewable energy, needs to be addressed through investment in community health education, renewable energy education, and educational support to provide new renewable training opportunities for power workers.
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Speaker / Author:
Janet Roden, MA, PhD, RN, RM, New South Wales Nurses and Midwives' Association