Mercury contamination in the Gippsland Lakes has been in the news this week. An announcement by several Gippsland doctors stated that they had found mercury levels in locally caught fish well above WHO standards. These levels may be a health hazard and “Pregnant women and young children who eat fish regularly are at risk”, they said. The Doctors called for further studies and the monitoring of mercury levels in fish. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-19/fish-caught-in-gippsland-lakes-could-have-high-mercury-doctors/6401428
Three previous studies have warned of potentially hazardous amounts of mercury in the Lakes and urged further action. The last study to examine mercury levels in fish was done in 1997. These studies and commentary can be found on the home page of the Gippsland Environment Group (see links) What needs to be realised is that burning brown coal for power generation is one of the major sources of contamination. It is estimated that Hazelwood power station alone emits 435Kgs of mercury and mercury compounds per annum. http://nofibs.com.au/2015/04/17/why-is-it-so-hard-to-close-down-victorias-dirtiest-coal-power-stations-asks-takvera/
Almost all of this, along with that produced by the other stations, eventually finds its way into the Lakes system. The threat of contamination and the threat to the fishing and tourist industries is another strong reason why coal power in the Latrobe Valley should be phased out as quickly as possible.