Smoking out the fire facts

MORE than 500 Latrobe Valley residents are expected to voice their anger against the lack of information provided in response to the Hazelwood mine fire at a demonstration on Sunday from 2pm at Immigration Park, Morwell.

Many people have already signalled their intention to attend the demonstration, which was organised largely via social media.

Organisers have detailed a list of demands, which include access to all information the Environment Protection Authority has gathered about the air quality, increased funding to Latrobe Regional Hospital and compensation for loss of housing value, income, relocation expenses and medical expenses.

Among the details of the event, organisers have called on the community to sign a petition and unite at the rally on Sunday.

Traralgon resident and co-organiser Heather Dawes said she and others were dissatisfied with the two recent community meetings and the demonstration was a chance for the community to air their views with others.

“We thought ‘gee, it’s been three weeks and no one’s doing much’ and I thought we’d just start something ourselves and then we saw this (demonstration) on Facebook and I just asked to be on the administration,” Ms Dawes said.

She said speakers would include families affected by the fires, adding representatives from the Country Fire Authority, EPA and GDF Suez had been invited to attend.

When asked if she thought this demonstration could incite fear, Ms Dawes said “there’s already alarm and fear in the community”.

“People want to have facts and know how those facts relate to their living standards and health,” she said.

“They want recognition on a large scale from relevant bodies so they don’t feel forgotten about. That’s not too much to ask.

“The fact that their rating only goes to very poor quality at 150 – there’s not even something on the scale to suggest what a reading of 1809 would mean, which is what it was one day.”

Other Facebook groups that share information and personal stories in relation to the smoke caused by the mine fire, include ‘Occupy Latrobe Valley’ and ‘The Air That We Breathe’, which have gathered thousands of likes.