Closure urged for ‘environmentally catastrophic’ power station

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Environmental campaigners are calling for a coal-fired power station in Wales to be closed after the threat it poses to the environment and to the health of people in Wales was revealed in a new report.

Friends of the Earth Cymru has calculated that Aberthaw power station, near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, costs Welsh society £400 million more every year in environmental and health pollution than any gains from employment and electricity generation.

The UK Government has committed to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025. However the Welsh Government has had no discussions with the Aberthaw operator about its closure, nor has any discussion taken place at Cabinet about closing it.

The report, published today by Friends of the Earth Cymru, highlights numerous concerns about the power plant, including:

Climate change: Aberthaw pumps out up to 8.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually; in 2013 it was responsible for 17% of Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions. Its continued operation would mean Wales will almost certainly fail to meet the Welsh Government target of a 40% reduction in emissions by 2020

Nitrogen oxides: Aberthaw power station is the third-largest point source of toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Europe, with emissions well in excess of EU Directives. NOx are a group of toxic gases that can cause respiratory problems and are harmful to human health. As a result of these emissions – exceeding legal limits since at least 2008 – it is currently the subject of legal proceedings lodged by the European Commission with the European Court of Justice.

Mercury: Aberthaw is a major emitter of mercury (Hg), with a 0.6% share of UK emissions. European legislation requires the cessation of discharges of hazardous substances such as mercury into water by 20 November 2021. It is difficult to see how Aberthaw will comply with this requirement.

Friends of the Earth Cymru says the coal-burning power station should be closed down, and greater resources put into energy efficiency and renewable power.

Friends of the Earth Cymru director, Gareth Clubb, said “Aberthaw is one of the most polluting power stations in the whole of the UK. The toxic gases pouring out of its chimneys put a massive burden on society. The environmental damage and serious health impacts are enomous – particularly on people with respiratory ailments.

“People living downwind of Aberthaw, including in Barry, Cardiff, Newport and Bristol, will be horrified by the knowledge that their health could be directly impacted by the fumes gushing out of this power station.

“This environmentally catastrophic power plant makes a major contribution to Wales’ impact on climate change. Its continued operation would mean Wales will almost certainly fail to meet the Welsh Government target of a 40% reduction in emissions by 2020.”

“Aberthaw power station has been hauled before the European Court of Justice for its refusal to meet pollution limits. It’s high time the Welsh Government took action and pushed Westminster to close it.

“Every year this dirty power plant continues to operate will mean hundreds of millions of pounds of damage to Welsh people and our environment.”