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New coal-fired power units in Guangdong may kill thousands

30 Aug 2013

There were reports that emissions from new coal-fired power stations planned in Guangdong could cause as many as 16,000 deaths in the next 40 years.

Research by an air pollution specialist indicated that the shocking findings have brought a call for the province to wind back plans for the 22 additional stations and return to a 2009 policy of no new coal fired plants in the Pearl River Delta.

The estimates were made by Dr Andrew Gray, an American private air quality consultant commissioned by Greenpeace to study the health impact of the new plants' emissions of fine particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometers. The extra deaths would add to an already heavy health toll put at 3,600 deaths and 4,000 cases of child asthma in 2011 alone from the 96 coal fired plants already in operation in the province and Hong Kong.

 Zhou Rong climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace said that "The cumulative impact of these new plants on human health is simply shocking. The Pearl River Delta region should strictly enforce the policy of no more new coal-fired power plants in the PRD published in 2009. Guangdong has ignored its earlier pledge to ban new coal-fired power plants in order to feed its hunger for energy."

Yu Yang student at Stanford University who researches on environment policy said that So shall Guangdong build more large-scale nuke plants or shall it transport more electricity from the country's southwest?

For his study, Gray used the CALPUFF computer model, endorsed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for trans-boundary air pollution, as well as emission data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and power companies.

The health impact estimates were also based on a model developed by the World Health Organization on mortality risks from human exposure to fine particles. Half of the additional power stations, with a total capacity of 26,000 megawatts, are under construction and the rest are in the planning stage.

Of the predicted 16,000 premature deaths in the next four decades, two thirds would be related to strokes. The rest would be from lung cancer and heart disease. The pollution would also lead to 15,000 new cases of child asthma and 19,000 of chronic bronchitis. Most new deaths and child asthma cases would be in the delta region, with 1,700 and 1,300 respectively in Hong Kong.

Source: AFP/coalguru