Floods and the Yallourn Power Station

On Monday 14 July following the floods in the Latrobe Valley Wendy Farmer of Voices of the Valley reported that the “Yallourn Mine [was at] risk of further flooding after cracks developed [in the open cut wall]. [There is] 37 Metres of water in Yallourn mine, only 1 unit running. Further water could be devastating and could close the power station and Mine for weeks and weeks if not months according to Lily DAmbrosio MP.” *

In response Professor Erik Eklund of Churchill noted that “I am not an engineer but am worried about these developments in light of long history of diversions of Morwell and Latrobe Rivers and subsequent failures. Mining Warden’s 2006 report argued [the] mine walls [were] inherently unstable and water pressure caused cracking not revealed on [the] surface” to which Wendy replied “It’s not good, water likes to make its own path with the weakest link. We have seen it happen before -Yallourn 2012.”

Extreme Weather is becoming more frequent and more severe with global warming and the recent floods are just one example. The remaining power generators are also vulnerable to other climate extremes including fire, heatwaves and drought, all of which have the ability to stop or curtail power generation. In the last one hundred years, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere has increased by seven per cent. It will continue to do so as the planet warms. This then falls somewhere as rain with predictions of shorter but more intense rainfall ‘events’ commonly known as floods.

There is a certain irony here – the brown coal generators are Australia’s worst greenhouse gas polluters contributing to global warming which in turn heavily influences and causes more of these extreme weather events. There has been the need for many years for our politicians to understand and recognise the science of climate change and to act on it accordingly. This means phasing out our brown coal generators as quickly as possible. The way to do this is as Wendy Farmer says – the “Vic[torian] Gov[ernment] need to get serious about how Latrobe Valley will Transition, don’t leave the Valley behind, fast track renewable energy projects.”

*quotes taken from an exchange on twitter hence the abbreviated delivery.