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The Grubby Side of Solid Energy

The Grubby Side of Solid Energy

Auckland, 28 May 2003: Greenpeace criticised SOE Solid Energy for advocating so-called clean coal power stations and misleading the public about the dirty nature of it’s mining operations.

“Coal remains a health and environmental villain from mine to sky. Solid Energy’s PR spin doesn’t change that fact,” said Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson. “Solid Energy’s CEO Don Elder recent claims that coal is “clean” and that the company’s coal is “virtually sustainable” are fundamentally wrong.”

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is a major contributor to climate change.

Yesterday former Solid Energy geologist Paul Caffyn stated that the company had caused the worst environmental damage in the 160- year history of the Strongman mine.

According to The Press, Mr Caffyn said explosions at the Strongman Mine near Greymouth had caused landslips down Doherty and Waterfall Creeks that had together dumped more than 60,000 cubic metres of mining debris into Ten Mile Creek. In addition, an uncontrolled coal-seam fire was so strong the glare was seen well offshore by fishing boats who used it as a night-time navigation aid.

A West Coast Regional Council study has shown that up to 500 km of West Coast creeks and rivers are contaminated from historic and present coal mines. The pollution is caused when coal and coal dust is exposed to air and water, creating sulphuric acid which leaches into waterways.

“Solid Energy has tried to scrub off the grime and give coal a media makeover in recent months. CEO Don Elder has been hustling his coal power plant ideas to MPs, the media and the public. Both the burning of coal for energy and it’s extraction take a huge toll on the environment and it’s time that the SOE was called to account”.

“Since 1984 the US government subsidised their coal industry by $US1.8 billion dollars to try and make ‘coal clean’. However, it is economically impossible to remove carbon dioxide – one of the major greenhouse global warming gases – from coal, so truly pollution-free coal power stations will never happen.”

Burning coal also releases sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and toxic mercury contaminants.

“New Zealand’s future is in clean renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, not dirty old coal. The Government must lead the way and develop an energy strategy that will phase out fossil fuels and secure 100% renewable energy for New Zealand by 2020. They must not buy into Solid Energy’s dirty dreams of a polluting powered future.”

For information contact: Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson 021 565 165 or Greenpeace Communications Officer Dean Baigent-Mercer 021 790 817

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