Push for coal ash concerns to be investigated

Morwell Neighbourhood House coordinator Tracie Lund has called for a survey to assess the number of houses in Morwell and surrounds still containing coal ash and dust following the Hazelwood mine fire.

Ms Lund said many houses and roof cavities in Morwell had not yet been cleaned since the area was shrouded in smoke and ash from the mine fire which burnt for 45 days in 2014.

It is unclear exactly how many homes have not been cleaned.

“People are still talking about this issue that their roof cavities have not been cleaned,” Ms Lund said.

“There needs to be a proper assessment of the houses and decisions based on those assessments. I don’t think it should be left up to community to do it.”

Morwell and District Community Recovery Committee chair Carolyne Boothman said she believed there was a “significant number” of homes still not cleaned.

“A lot of the ones, particularly in the area closest to the mine didn’t have insurance or couldn’t access insurance to get the roof cavity cleaned,” Ms Boothman said.

“We certainly have advocated to the (Hazelwood Mine Fire ) inquiry that this is an ongoing issue that needs to be investigated.”

A State Government spokesperson said the Department of Health and Human Services would work with the Environment Protection Authority and council to investigate community concerns about coal dust in roof cavities.

“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to understanding the health impacts of the Hazelwood mine fire. That’s why we reopened the Mine Fire Inquiry and we’re awaiting the Board of Inquiry’s report and recommendations,” the spokesperson said.

The 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry report criticised the self-clean packages provided to residents during the fire, labelling them inadequate to the scale of the task faced by the community.

It also highlighted the State Government’s $2 million community assistance package, which offered professional cleaning to some residents and clean-up kits and vouchers to all residents, was not announced until 18 March and there were further delays in implementing the assistance.