The Victorian Government has reopened the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry to get to the bottom of community health concerns following the 2014 fire and consider rehabilitation at the Latrobe Valley’s coal mines.
Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Minister for Health Jill Hennessy joined inquiry board members in the Latrobe Valley this morning to discuss the inquiry’s new Terms of Reference with the community.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the inquiry will benefit the community and help them understand the incident.
“The inquiry will help the community move forward, mine rehabilitation will assist in preventing future mine fires. The people of the Valley deserve nothing less,” she said.
“The Coalition deserted Latrobe Valley, but the Labor Government will stand with the community.”
The Minister for Health said the community “deserves answers”.
“The community deserves answers. They deserve to know whether the fire contributed to an increase in deaths, and what impact the fire may have had on their health. We will help the community find these answers,” Ms Hennessy said.
“The Government is funding new equipment, a new health clinic and a long-term health study to help the community get the care, support and information they need.”
The Terms of Reference address concerns of a spike in deaths following the fire, as well as the option of mine rehabilitation at all three coal mines in the Latrobe Valley – Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang.
Separate Terms of Reference will focus on recommendations to minimise the risk of fire at Alcoa’s Anglesea coal mine, which closes at the end of August.
The reopening of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry follows the commitment by the Labor Government of $30 million in the May Budget to implement all recommendations of the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire Board of Inquiry.
This includes funding a long-term health study in the Latrobe Valley to support the safety and wellbeing of the local community.
The inquiry will deliver its recommendations on minimising fire risk at the Anglesea coal mine site by August 31.
It will report on the health effects of the 2014 coal mine fire and measures to improve health in the Latrobe Valley in December, and deliver its findings into coal mine rehabilitation in March 2016.
Image source: Herald Sun