Hazelwood Report Highlights Significant Progress In 2017

The Andrews Labor Government is getting on with building a healthier and safer Latrobe Valley, the latest Inspector-General for Emergency Management’s (IGEM) report on the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Implementation Plan shows.

The Hazelwood coal-mine fire burned for 45 days in early 2014, making it the largest and longest-running mine fire in the Latrobe Valley.

The Implementation Plan outlines the Government’s response to the 2014 and reopened Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Reports. The Labor Government reopened the Inquiry to get to the bottom of community health, safety and environmental concerns that were dismissed by the former Coalition Government.

The report, tabled in Victorian Parliament today, shows 187 of 246 action items have been completed and highlights a number of key areas of progress, including:

  • Increased investment in health services and programs for the Latrobe Valley region
  • The formation of the Latrobe Health Assembly and appointment of the Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner
  • Improved information for decision makers before, during and after emergencies, including air-quality monitoring and predictive data on smoke and fires
  • Support for the rehabilitation of mine sites in the Latrobe Valley, through significant increases in rehabilitation bonds and introduction of progressive rehabilitation milestones for coal-mine operators.

Overall, the report found the government has delivered on the vast majority of commitments set out in the Implementation Plan.

Reforms still underway include reviewing the capacity of local governments to fulfil their emergency management roles and responsibilities, and the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy.

IGEM’s review into the Coolaroo recycling plant fire in July 2017 was also released today, examining how well the emergency-management sector put into practice the reforms introduced following the Hazelwood fire.

The review found the response to the Coolaroo fire was effective in delivering on the intent of the Hazelwood implementation plan’s recommendations. In particular, the way agencies worked together to bring the Coolaroo fire under control was overwhelmingly positive, while efforts to reduce community exposure to harmful smoke were also effective.  Both reports can be accessed at igem.vic.gov.au

Quote attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino

“This report shows Latrobe Valley communities can be confident that we are taking the action we need to improve health and well-being across the Valley and strengthen our emergency services response.”

Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing

“Whether it’s improving health services or supporting mine rehabilitation we’re absolutely committed to the work and resources that are required to make and keep Latrobe Valley residents, workers and communities healthier, safer and stronger.”