Fluoride Action Network

Alcoa tight-lipped as controversial project delayed

Source: Geelong Advertiser | July 30th, 2010 | By Yasmin Paton
Industry type: Aluminum Industry

An Alcoa fuel trial at Anglesea has been put on hold, easing health fears for the town’s primary school students.

Alcoa’s Anglesea Power Station planned to start processing a by-product called HiCAL40 carbon fuel next month, to determine whether it was a viable alternative to brown coal.

Alcoa has refused to comment to the Geelong Advertiser about why the trial has been postponed but it will hold a community meeting at Anglesea Community House on Monday at 7 pm.

Alcoa’s latest community advertisement confirmed the halt.

“Alcoa continues its review into a range of technical and environmental, health and safety aspects of the project,” it read.

“There is scope for a trial at Anglesea Power Station to determine the potential to develop new markets for the product. No firm start date for the project has been agreed to.”

The trial would increase the amount of fluoride in the air but Alcoa and the Environmental Protection Authority maintain the levels would be minimal and non-harmful.

In recent years, fluoride emissions from Alcoa Portland have caused bone deformities in kangaroos which grazed near the smelter.

They ingested the fluoride which settled on vegetation and developed fluorosis which caused arthritis and bone growths on their joints.

“They’re in a serious amount of pain because of it and their mobility is completely taken away,” Wildlife Victoria boss Sandy Fernee said.

Alcoa said levels of fluoride at Anglesea would be 10 times lower than at Portland but environmental experts expressed concern about possible impacts of the trial on not only kangaroos, but humans.

“The health hazards of airborne fluoride produced by aluminium smelters , brick works and steel works, which settles on vegetation have been well known for 50 years,” University of NSW environment director Dr Mark Diesendorf said.

“In the case of children, they will be more sensitive than adults because with any toxin, you’re interested in the amount of toxin that enters the body in relation to body weight.”

Alcoa has requested residents register for the meeting, held at 5 McMillan St, by emailing angleseaps@alcoa.com.au or phoning 5263 4249.