EPA here to stay

The Environment Protection Authority has assured its continuing presence in the Latrobe Valley despite the Hazelwood mine fire’s “under control” classification.

Victoria EPA chief executive John Merritt said the Latrobe Valley had lost a bit of confidence in the quality of the air that they were breathing.

“Now the fire is under control we’re moving into a different phase of the operations,” Mr Merritt said.

“We’re wanting to constantly reassure the community about the air monitoring equipment, that the EPA both has here and will maintain here in the Latrobe Valley for quite some time to come.”

Mr Merritt, along with Victoria chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester, visited Moe on Thursday to announce the installation of an outlying air monitoring station atop the Tanjil Place Medical Centre.

The chief executive said the device was installed about three weeks ago, and the EPA was still running about 20 different monitoring stations across the Valley.

“We’ll maintain the big air monitoring station in Morwell, in the southern part of Morwell and Morwell East, for the next 12 months as we progressively try to rebuild the community’s confidence in the air that they’re breathing,” Mr Merritt said.

Dr Lester said the more air quality monitoring they had, the better it enabled the Department of Health to frame its health messages.

“It’s great that the vulnerable groups can return to very clean air,” Dr Lester said.

“We’re continuing to not see any major health issues from this event.”

On Thursday Dr Lester said air quality and airborne particles less than 0.0025 in diameter, known as ‘PM2.5’, which has been of most concern to people’s health, has been in the ‘very good’ range for the past few days.

She said the health assessment centre will remain open until the end of March, when it would be reassessed.