Report says AGL’s Bayswater plant rife with toxic risks

Bayswater Power Station (AGL closure)
Bayswater Power Station

A report by The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed an internal investigation uncovered more than 70 key risks to the environment posed by AGL’s coal-fired Bayswater Power Station, with a whistleblower warning parts of the plant were “literally falling apart”.

The newspaper says the report detailed a litany of environmental issues at the ageing Bayswater Power Station in the NSW Hunter Valley, including damaged and deteriorating pipework, the risk of toxic waste and ash spills from “potentially failing” infrastructure and more than a dozen parts of the plant not being properly inspected or maintained.

Related article: AGL sheds staff ahead of demerger

The Bayswater review, completed this year for AGL, was obtained by Healthy Futures—an activist group led by healthcare workers.

The results have alarmed doctors after a study found air pollution from the state’s power stations is increasing the risk of premature death for people as far away as greater metropolitan Sydney.

The whistleblower said many of the problems were inherited by AGL when the company purchased Bayswater Power Station from government-owned Macquarie Generation in 2014.

A spokeswoman for AGL said since the sale it had committed about $42 million towards environmental improvement programs.

“AGL is strongly committed to ensuring the protection of the environment,” she said. “This includes the operation and maintenance of its assets in accordance with good industry practices.”

The review identified more than 20 parts of the plant at risk of “potentially failing”. The whistleblower said he had already witnessed such failures.

“You can’t really say something is potential when it’s already happened,” he said.

“When I was [at Bayswater Power Station] in early 2017 there was a failure of a valve in one of the ash collection silos.

“A whole heap of fly ash poured out the bottom of the silo, clouds of it just went everywhere.”

Cheap, poor quality fabric filter bags covered the emissions stacks, the whistleblower said.

Related article: AGL breaks ground for Torrens Islands battery

“There were regular times when the operators had to wind back the power generation because if they pushed too hard, too many holes formed in filter bags and clouds of dust and ash would come out the top of the stacks,” the whistleblower recalled.

“Not only were these cheap bags contributing to increased air pollution, but they also resulted in reduced power production and revenue.”

Read the full report here.

Previous articleStanwell signs green hydrogen deal with Acciona
Next articleResearchers identify energy management needs of Australian households