“Historically lax” regulations around pollution control have led to much higher levels of mercury emission from coal-fired power stations in Victoria, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU).

The study compared mercury levels in sediment from lakes close to power stations in the Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and the NSW Hunter Valley.  

According to lead author Dr Larissa Schneider, there was a stark difference. 

“New South Wales and Victoria have historically had very different regulatory approaches. Victorian power stations have used “dirtier” coal – or coal with a higher mercury concentration – and had less efficient pollution control devices,” she said.  

“All of this adds up, power stations in the Latrobe Valley emit around 10 times more mercury than power stations in the Hunter.” 

Dr Schneider says with Australia working to ratify the Minamata Convention, which outlines international guidelines on controlling mercury pollution, she believes it may be time to look at a more uniform approach that takes into account best practices. 

“Victoria has recently announced changes. If the Minamata Convention is ratified other states may be obliged to implement better pollution control technology. This study shows how effective that can be,” Dr Schneider said.  

“Regulating even basic pollution control technologies can lead to substantial reductions in environmental pollution.” 

The research has been published in Environmental Pollution. 

Dr Schneider is the founder and convenor of Mercury Australia, a research network that unites researchers investigating the uses and impacts of mercury, with special emphasis in the Asia and the Pacific. 

Contact the media team

You may also like

Article Card Image

A coral reef in Canberra? It’s not as fishy as it sounds

ANU is home to a surprising slice of tropical marine life.

Article Card Image

Victoria’s native logging exit to boost Australia’s climate change action

ANU experts have welcomed the Victorian government’s decision to exit native forest logging in 2024, six years ahead of what it had previously planned.

Article Card Image

Here comes the sun: what does the future of solar energy look like? 

Solar energy is having its moment in the sun. What’s next for the technology that powers it and how do we get more people to use it?

Subscribe to ANU Reporter

Anu Logo

+61 2 6125 5111

The Australian National University, Canberra

CRICOS Provider: 00120C

ABN: 52 234 063 906

EDX Logo
Group of eight Australia Logo