Monitoring the environment

Air monitoring results


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EPA collected a large amount of data during and after the Hazelwood mine fire. EPA continues to monitor air quality at our five air monitoring stations in the Latrobe Valley.

Data from February 2014 until the end of November 2014 is shown in summary form in the graphs below.

Particles (PM2.5)

Fine particle (PM2.5) levels were very high at various times during the first two weeks of the Hazelwood mine fire. On a total of 21 days, the levels of PM2.5 particles were measured at well above the Air NEPM standard (25 µg/m3) at the monitoring station in the south of Morwell.

In the six months after the fire was declared safe, the concentration of fine particles measured at the air stations in the south and east of Morwell did not exceed the Air NEPM standard. Air quality at the Traralgon air monitoring station was also between good and very good in that period.

Graph of Latrobe Valley PM2.5 levels (24-hour rolling average)

Note: the 24-hour rolling average is the average of the hourly readings of PM2.5 over the previous 24-hour period. It is updated each hour.
µg/m3: micrograms per cubic metre.

Particles (PM10)

Coarse particle (PM10) levels were high in the first weeks of the Hazelwood mine fire. On a number of days, PM10 levels measured at Traralgon air monitoring station exceeded the Air NEPM standard of 50 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3).

In the six months after the mine fire was declared safe, air quality at the Traralgon air monitoring station was consistently good to very good, with PM10 levels remaining below the air quality standard.

Graph of Latrobe Valley PM10 levels (24-hour rolling average)

Note: the 24-hour rolling average is the average of the hourly readings of PM10 over the previous 24-hour period. It is updated each hour.
µg/m3: micrograms per cubic metre.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide (CO) was recorded at high levels during the Hazelwood mine fire. Carbon monoxide exceeded the Air NEPM standard (9 ppm) on three days in February 2014: Friday 21, Saturday 22 and Wednesday 26. As the fire was brought under control, carbon monoxide levels dropped.

In the six months after 27 February 2014, carbon monoxide levels met the Air NEPM standard at EPA’s air monitoring stations in the Traralgon, Morwell east and Morwell south.

graph of Latrobe Valley CO levels (8-hour rolling average)

Note: Carbon monoxide levels were not measured in Morwell in the first days of mine fire.
ppm: parts per million.

 

Visibility reduction (index)

Visibility was very poor at times during the period when the Hazelwood mine fire was being brought under control. Visibility remained poor due to high smoke density during the first month of the fire.

Visibility was mostly between good and very good at the Traralgon, Morwell south and Morwell east air monitoring stations in the six months after the mine fire was declared safe.

Graph of Latrobe Valley visibility reduction (1-hour rolling average)

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

During the Hazelwood mine fire, sulfur dioxide (SO2) was detected at low levels that were well below the Air NEPM standard (0.2 ppm). The most likely source of this was probably from power station emissions rather than the fire. This is because coal contains sulfur, which is emitted as sulfur dioxide during combustion.

In the six-month period after the fire was declared safe, sulfur dioxide levels remained well below the Air NEPM standard at the Traralgon, Morwell east and Morwell south air monitoring stations in the Latrobe Valley.

Graph of Latrobe Valley sulfur dioxide levels (1-hour rolling average)

ppm: parts per million.

Page last updated on 11 Aug 2016