As we go to press a fire at the coal mine adjacent to the Hazelwood power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley continues to burn. Since it started on February 9 the entire area has been blanketed by thick smoke and ash. The nearby town of Morwell has been the worst affected.
By Dean Roberts, Socialist Party
Carbon monoxide levels in the air are at very dangerous levels. This has forced many to leave their homes for fear of long term health impacts. Unfortunately some people who can not afford to leave their homes and jobs have been forced to stay and endure the horrific conditions.
It has been reported that a preventative sprinkler system at the privately owned mine was removed as part of cost cutting measures. Similarly the company had refused to cover over the now disused parts of the mine to save money.
Clearly profit interests are being put before people’s health and safety. This highlights the need for the energy sector to be in public hands and run in the community’s interest. A socialist plan to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy in the Valley would also help avert disasters like this in the future.
Solidarity from the East-West tunnel picket
This morning Melbourne residents fighting the State government’s plans to build the disastrous East-West toll road tunnel also discussed the Morwell fire crisis.
A meeting of the community picket at a test drilling site in North Fitzroy agreed to pass on this message to the residents of Morwell & the Latrobe Valley:
To the residents of the Latrobe Valley,
We wish to offer you support and solidarity during this difficult time. As you demand action and answers from government and the companies involved in the creation of the disaster at the Hazelwood coal mine, we stand with you.
We have seen how politicians and government agencies dodge questions and ignore the genuine concerns of people in our community. But our strength is in our numbers and collective action can force change. You are in our thoughts as we continue our campaign for public investment into public transport.
If we fight together for real solutions to the environmental crisis, the jobs crisis, and the problems created by privatisation, we can win.
The community picket to stop the East West tunnel