OVERVIEW

This Chapter provides a chronology of key events during the Hazelwood mine fire, relevant to the environmental and health management of the emergency and its impact on the local community.

Under its Terms of Reference, the Board of Inquiry is required to investigate and report on the measures taken by GDF Suez, emergency services, and other relevant government agencies in respect of the health and wellbeing of communities affected by the Hazelwood mine fire. This Chapter provides a summary of those measures. A more detailed discussion of the measures taken in respect of the community’s health and wellbeing can be found in following chapters.

From 9 February 2014 until 25 March 2014, the local community was overwhelmed by smoke and ash from the Hazelwood mine fire.

As discussed in earlier chapters, the Country Fire Authority managed the response to the fire. The Environment Protection Authority, the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development together with the Latrobe City Council, responded to the fire’s health and environmental impacts and led recovery efforts.

The Environment Protection Authority and the Department of Health were the key agencies responsible for providing the community with information about smoke and ash produced by the mine fire and possible adverse health effects. The Department of Health (with the assistance of the Department of Human Services) set up a number of initiatives to provide respite and relief for the community throughout the fire.

To understand the sequence of events relevant to the management of the Hazelwood mine fire’s impact on the community, the Board of Inquiry heard evidence from key representatives from each relevant government department and agency, and also heard from a number of members of the local community.