In July of this year, a Supreme Court jury found each of Hazelwood Pacific Pty Ltd, Australian Power Partners B.V., Hazelwood Churchill Pty Ltd and National Power Australia Investments Ltd guilty of pollution offences arising out of the 2014 Hazelwood Mine fire. This is in addition to a related entity, Hazelwood Power Corporation Pty Ltd, being found guilty by a separate jury of occupational health and safety offences in November in relation to the same incident.

The Hazelwood Mine fire began on 9 February 2014 and burned for 45 days. It was the largest and longest burning mine fire that has occurred in the Latrobe Valley to date. The fire sent smoke and ash over the town of Morwell and surrounding areas for much of that time.

The companies were found guilty of polluting the atmosphere so that the condition of the atmosphere was so changed as to make (or be reasonably expected to make) the atmosphere:

- noxious or poisonous or offensive to the senses of human beings;
- harmful or potentially harmful to the health, welfare, safety or property of human beings;
- detrimental to any beneficial use made of the atmosphere.

The plea hearing in relation to these matters is scheduled to be heard on 19 and 20 December by the Supreme Court sitting at the Latrobe Valley Court, in Morwell (134 Commercial Road).

Members of the community who were affected by this crime are able to tell the court about how the crime has affected them by completing a Victim Impact Statement.

Victim Impact Statements are one of the things a judge takes into account when they decide what penalty to impose on the offender(s).

A Victim Impact Statement can help a judge understand how this crime has affected you. It gives you a chance to express about how you feel, and what has happened to you because of the crime. These statements are about explaining how the crime has affected you either physically, emotionally, financially or socially. You may additionally wish to read your Victim Impact Statement aloud or have the Prosecutor read it aloud. Whether your Victim Impact Statement is read aloud or not, it will be given the same weight and treated in the same way by the Court.

If you have been affected by this crime and wish to complete a Victim Impact Statement, then further information and the relevant forms are available from Victims of Crime Victoria here.

We request that any Victim Impact Statements be emailed to vis@epa.vic.gov.au by 5pm on Monday, 9 December.  Alternatively, statements can be hand-delivered to the EPA's Gippsland office located at 8-12 Seymour Street, Traralgon during business hours.


Reviewed 6 December 2019