Victoria Coroner Rules Out Mine Fire Probe

The Victorian coroner won’t investigate a coalmine fire that locals argue caused a spike in deaths.

Residents group Voices of the Valley says it has been told the Coroners’ Act makes it difficult to investigate the Hazelwood blaze.

A bushfire got into the mine in February and burned for 45 days, blanketing the nearby town of Morwell in toxic smoke and ash.

Voices of the Valley president Wendy Farmer said on Thursday a study found a spike in deaths during and after the fire.

“People in the community are still reporting worrying levels of deaths due to factors including aneurisms, heart attack and stroke,” Ms Farmer said.

She said the group was considering an appeal.

Nicola Rivers, director of advocacy at Environmental Justice Australia, said the coroner said there were limitations under the Coroners Act that made it difficult to investigate the case.

An independent inquiry into the fire found residents should have been told to leave Morwell almost two weeks before they were eventually advised to get out.

The government has promised a 20-year health study to monitor the effects of the blaze on Morwell residents.


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