EnergyAustralia today assures the Latrobe Valley community that approval to discharge waters into the Latrobe River will be conducted in accordance with strict environmental conditions set by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and that the impact to water quality is expected to be negligible.
Energy Executive, Liz Westcott, said the Section 30A Application for Temporary Emergency Discharge granted by the EPA has been made consistent with the State of Energy Emergency proclaimed on 17 June 2021. She said EPA approval was an important first step to reducing upstream water from entering the Morwell River Diversion (MRD) and helps provide storage should there be a further, major rainfall event.
“Strict quality limits have been set by the EPA and this will be rigorously monitored by independent and accredited laboratory experts three times per week during the set discharge period,” said Liz.
“This emergency discharge is expected to have a minor impact on the Latrobe River as it is a temporary measure,” she said.
“Our long-term strategy is to minimise any impact by transferring the majority of natural Morwell River flows along two pipelines directly to the Latrobe River, bypassing the area at risk."
The Section 30A Application for Temporary Emergency Discharge was prioritised under a direction made possible by the State of Energy Emergency proclaimed on 17 June 2021. The energy emergency proclamation provides for a whole of government response more quickly than usual, albeit with the same rigour with respect to safeguarding the surrounding environment.
EnergyAustralia’s Section 30A Application for Temporary Emergency Discharge allows for up 232 megalitres per day to be diverted from the Township Field pond into the Latrobe River at a different discharge point, inclusive of the existing discharge volume that is up to 61 megalitres daily.
“As we continue to reiterate, relieving pressure on the Morwell River Diversion is essential to complete the damage assessment alongside critical, permanent repairs to be undertaken,” Liz said.
“There are additional diversion options that need to be progressed. Once they are finalised, similar with today we will inform the community so they’re clear on our approach and have confidence we are caring for the surrounding environment.
“We would like to thank the government, regulators and unions from a health and safety perspective. The progress we’ve made is the result of our teams working collaboratively with one another,” she said.
Meanwhile, three of four generating units are currently operational at the Yallourn power station, which is the result of daylight dozer-push mining activity resuming in the Maryvale mine on Friday 25 June, following detailed risk assessments and consultation. Short-term repairs on the MRD are expected to be finished this week.
Yallourn power station’s usual generation capacity is up to 1480 MW and typically supplies about 20 per cent of Victoria’s electricity demand, or eight per cent of the National Electricity Market.
EnergyAustralia estimates that the average daily flow rate of water through the Morwell River Diversion is more than half a gigalitre, which is equivalent to over 200 Olympic-size swimming pools. On 11 June 2021, the average daily flow rate swelled to about 17 gigalitres or about 6800 Olympic-size swimming pools.