Asbestos-Riddled Morwell Power Station Granted Heritage Protection

The Morwell Power Station in Australia has been granted heritage protection under the Heritage Council of Victoria. The Council felt both the power station and the Briquette Factories were of cultural heritage significance and should be included on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The power station once brought coal-fired electricity to Victorian homes, but the building has sat idle since 2014.

One resident, Cheryl Wragg, was the first person to bring forth the nomination. She felt that the building deserved protection because it is the oldest coal-fired station in the state and “the rarest in terms of industry.”

Wragg is hoping the building will be redeveloped into a tourist attraction. She said the restoration and construction project would bring many new jobs to the area.

There’s just one problem: the building is riddled with asbestos.

The site contains between 10,000 and 15,000 cubic meters of class A and B asbestos. Most of that asbestos is found mainly in the power station.

Vicky Hamilton, CEO of the Asbestos Council of Victoria, wants the buildings to be demolished.

“The whole place is a toxic dump, and it needs to be pulled down,” said Hamilton.

The area already has a high rate of asbestos-related and mesothelioma diseases.

Energy Brix Australia Corporation, the company that was the final operator of the site, went into liquidation right around the time the station stopped operating.

Barry Dungey, remediation general manager at Energy Brix, said the company only wants to demolish the power station containing the majority of the asbestos.

Demolition of the building would cost about $25 million, but it will cost $60-$80 million to make the site safe.

The power station had been slated for demolition until March, but the temporary protection order has stopped plans to tear down the station.

If added to the heritage listing, any future work done on the site would require a permit.