The Independent Planning Commission will not hold a public meeting about the proposed expansion of the Eraring coal ash dam despite widespread community concern about the project.
The commission chose not to hold a public meeting about the proposed five million cubic tonne expansion, which has been referred by the Department of Planning, because fewer than 25 submissions were received.
Instead the commission conducted a stakeholder tour of the site last week.
Hunter Communtiy Environment Centre representative Jo Lynch said awareness and concern about the ash dam had risen significantly since the closure of the Myuna Bay sport and recreation centre in March, which happened after the period for submissions had closed.
She said attempts to persuade the commission to hold a public meeting had to date fallen on deaf ears.
"The community is frustrated by the lack of transparency; people want answers about the current pollution issues and the future of these ash sites," Ms Lynch said.
"The IPC has an opportunity to facilitate this by holding a public meeting."
The Coal-ash Community Alliance was formed due to concerns about coal ash dams that had arisen as a result of the closure of the Myuna Bay centre
"We had hoped that the commission would enable us to get some clarity on this issue. I'ts incredibly disappointing that we're no closer to gaining an understanding about the management or future of these toxic waste sites burdening the region," alliance member Gary Blashke said.
"We have serious concerns about this site and the sheer volume of toxic material, particularly how this ash waste might reused, transported and how this expansion fits into a broader rehabilitation plan."
The proposed expansion, which the Department of Planning has recommended for approval, would extend over the abandoned Awaba Colliery, parts of which extracted coal to within 20 metres of the surface.
At least one sinkhole has already opened up within the area earmarked for the expansion.
The Environment Protection Authority is also investigating the circumstances surrounding a major dust pollution incident at the ash dam on November 12.
Surrounding residents recorded thousands of tonnes of coal ash blowing across the lake during an extreme weather event.
The Hunter Community Environment Centre and the Coal-ash Community Alliance are encouraging anyone with concerns about the ash dam to write to the Commission via its website.
Comments remain open until November 27.
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