State power and water


I was interested to read today, before setting off for the Cox’s River, that the NSW government had been happily polluting the river with heavy metals until the Blue Mountains Conservation Society took took legal action against it. That’s right, not the EPA but a local conservation group, a non-
regulatory body.

The state-owned power company, Delta Electricity, confessed in late 2011 to releasing numerous pollutants including copper, boron, zinc, arsenic, and aluminium as well as salt and fluoride into the river from its Wallerawang coal-fired power station. As part of a settlement with the BMCS, Delta agreed to begin treating its waste water rather than release it raw into the natural environment.

The corporatisation of electricity generation was supposed to improve not only efficiency but also accountability. What corporatisation effectively means however is that government can own and profit from assets while washing its hands of its ethical and governance responsibilities.

The state government this year sold the Wallerawang power station to EnergyAustralia as part of a $160 million deal. Its new owners have  decommissioned part of the station and basically put the rest on standby – until, they say, consumer demand improves.


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