Coal Face: Penguin Special, The

Coal Face: Penguin Special, The

by Doig Tom and Tom Doig

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 25/03/2015

  $9.99
'The smoke got thicker and darker and then it seemed to be coming from everywhere, swirling around until it blanketed the entire town . . .' On 9 February 2014 a fire took hold in Victoria's Hazelwood coal mine next to Morwell and burned for one and a half months. As the air filled with toxic smoke and ash, residents of the Latrobe Valley became ill, afraid - and angry. Up against an unresponsive corporation and an indifferent government, the community banded together, turning tragedy into a political fight. Tom Doig reveals the decades of decisions that led to the fire, and gives an intimate account of the first moments of the blaze and the dark weeks that followed. The Coal Face is a gripping and immediate report of one of the worst environmental and public health disasters in Australian history.
ISBN:
9780143573074
Category:
Social impact of environmental issues
Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
25-03-2015
Publisher:
Penguin Australia Pty Ltd
Pages:
144
Dimensions (mm):
180x110x11mm
Weight:
0.11kg
Prologue

In February of 2014, the open-cut coalmine next to Hazelwood power station caught fire. It burned out of control for forty-five days – over 1000 hours. The town of Morwell, home to 14 000 people, is less than half a kilometre from Hazelwood mine. In the Latrobe Valley, over 100 000 people live within 20 kilometres of the mine. Choking smoke and toxic gases filled the Valley. Carcinogenic brown coal ash fell as far away as Warragul, 50 kilometres to the west, and Sale, 60 kilometres to the east.

The short-term health effects included stinging eyes, sore throats, headaches, difficulty breathing, chest pains,rashes, nausea, 'metallic taste in mouth', bleeding gums, bleeding noses, diarrhoea, vomiting, and eleven probable deaths. The medium- and long- term health effects remain to be seen. The mine fire was 'a world's first in terms of prolonged adverse air quality', according to the environment protection Authority Victoria.

Environment Victoria described the smoke as 'possibly the worst incident of environmental pollution in our
state's history'. The mine fire was one of the worst industrial disasters Victoria has ever seen. It may also
prove to be one of the worst public health disasters the state has ever seen.

The fire was foreseeable. The disaster was preventable.

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