In early 2018, coal-power stations and ash waste came under scutiny by the HCEC, its members and volunteers. 

On the shores of Lake Macquarie, there lies combined 61 million tonnes of coal-ash waste from the nearby Vales Point and Eraring coal-power stations. The coal-ash is stored in unlined dams, and poses a high risk for the surrounding waterways and ecosystems due to the heavy metal content of coal, and coal-ash.

The HCEC got to work on a funding application to research the extent of heavy metal pollution escaping into Lake Macquarie from the Vales Point and Eraring power stations. 

After securing the grant to conduct this research, we hosted a strategic planning session and pooled ideas and resources from the community, and began collecting water samples from the Lake.

To produce the Out of the Ashes report, author Paul Winn compiled the results of the HCEC’s own water and sediment sample testing, a literature review and findings from documents obtained under freedom of information law from the Office of Environment  and NSW Environment Protection Authority,

All the while, Jo Lynch, HCEC Coordinator worked on community engagement, enabling local residents to learn more about the issue, learn local perspectives and facilitate input into the future of their region.

The HCEC team has held water-testing trainings, door-knocks, campaign update sessions, ran market stalls and film-screenings to spread the word among the communties who will be impacted the most by coal-ash and the eventual closure of coal-power stations.

In February 2019, 100 Lake Macquarie and Central Coast residents attended the Preparing for Power Station Closure forum, where expert speakers presented their knowleged on health, industrial relations, heavy metal contamination and more. 

Following on from the forum, the HCEC will host a meeting in the region to deliver a breifing on the report and to forge ahead with the next steps in the campaign, alongside community members. The Towards Transition meeting will be held March 21st in Morisset.

The Out of the Ashes report, detailing heavy metal contamination and solutions involving sustainable coal-ash reuse will be released Monday March 11th.