Author Archives: Exec4

2015 election features Acland.

resized mine 2 farmland resized

The Stage 3 expansion of the New Hope mine at Acland has always been a controversial one. The proposed site is located on the heavily settled inner Darling Downs on land used for cropping, dairying and mixed farming for 5 generations. It is a stone’s throw from communities like  Acland, Oakey, Jondaryan and Brymaroo with all the harmful dust and noise pollution and heavy vehicle traffic associated with a large open cut coal mining operation. At a time when over 85% of Queensland is drought declared and international experts are telling us that water and food security are the most important issues facing mankind in the future, we had a Government seemingly hell bent on facilitating this mine and others.

Despite OCAA members being familiar with the potential environmental, health, social and environmental impacts of this project and horrified by the prospect of it going ahead, we were still surprised at just how much Acland- and the nefarious dealings of New Hope Coal and the Newman Government- featured during the election campaign!

Some say it was the timing of the January election, fast on the heels of the Coordinator General approval of the project a few days before Christmas 2014 as the Government was entering a  recess period. Others state the influence of radio broadcaster Alan Jones, whose Acland upbringing has always meant this issue was deeply personal to him. Alan has had one message, repeated like a mantra over and over during the past 5 years- keep mining out of Australia’s food bowls and many Queenslanders apparently agreed with him.

The backflip of LNP politicians such as Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and others, who categorically declared in the lead up to the 2012 election that the LNP would not support any expansion on prime agricultural land, including Acland and Felton did not auger well for them. These pollies may have regained their safe seats, but for many country people  their sense of betrayal ran deep.

Then there was the tidal wave of submissions, planning reforms, Bills and Acts which branded the Newman-Seeney Government era. Landholders, concerned community members and environmental NGO’s were tied up for more than two years by a mess of bureaucratic red tape, deadlines, inquiries and hearings. Countless hours of time spent away from family and businesses led to frustration, ill health and even anguish…especially when it became increasingly apparent that this Government had some master plan to roll out preferential treatment to the mining industry above agriculture, rural communities, small businesses, manufacturing or tourism. Country people were left confused by the speed and extent of reforms, despairing and angry at the arrogance of a Government who were not listening to, or understanding of, rural issues. Communities lost their rights to object in the Land Court, and the resource sector was even given unprecedented access to Queensland’s precious water supplies.

The issue of coal royalties being retained by New Hope was also raised during the election. It has since been confirmed that a 1910 Queensland Mining Act loophole ensures a mere 7% of the royalties payable on coal dug from Acland district farms finds its way into our state coffers. A recent Guardian newspaper headline declared ‘The State to be a Major Loser in Acland Royalty Payouts’, with an estimated $450 million from Stage 3 and $1 billion over the life of the project withheld. No wonder New Hope wants this expansion so desperately! http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/03/queensland-mine-expansion-state-to-be-a-major-loser-in-acland-royalty-payouts

The stakes arehigh at Acland, and New Hope money has flowed through the corridors of George St and country towns like Oakey, Jondaryan, Goombungee and beyond.The amount of money slipped to the state and federal LNP  since 2012 was staggering, with some estimating over $1 million. Likewise  community donations over the past few years have increased to an extent directly  proportional to the project risk and national outcry against mining good quality agricultural land. Our local newspapers are also full of company propaganda and accompanying ‘smiling assassin’ photographs of cheques changing hands.

In order to form Government the Anna Palaszczuk Labour party teamed with independent Peter Wellington, who made a list of conditions including review of the Acland approval process. The behaviour of New Hope Coal and the impacts of the Stage 3 Acland project are still under scrutiny and there are many more hurdles to cross before any final Mining Lease approval occurs .

Acland is a metaphor. It is a hardly-there place maybe, with a community decimated by a coal company but not cowed, and with the moral stance of one individual inspiring a movement that said ‘We are Australian. We have rights to breathe clean air and have water for our farms and we have the right to remain living in a home, or farm, of our choosing.’

Have a look at these two photos again and ask yourself what type of Darling Downs we should be aiming for- a hole in the ground or productive farmland and safe water supplies?

Please watch this space…and  come back to visit this website soon for more updates.

 

Lockyer Valley says no to CSG and mining

mms_img1677482228A food security forum was held at Grantham in the Lockyer Valley last Sunday, supported by the Lockyer Council and Lock the Gate. Spotted in the crowd was Glennis from Jondaryan and Alan Jones.

Also spotted was a nice old Bedford truck once owned by member Bobby and her late husband Joe Connelly, now restored and holding vegetable displays from around the district.

Did you know 90% of Australia’s winter vegies come from this Valley? Too precious to put it’s water at risk.

red truck

 

 

 

 

 

Make a submission to the Additional EIS

Photo: This coal dump is about a kilometre from people's homes. 24 hours a day, it blows dirty coal dust over the township of Jondaryan. And New Hope don't want to move it for four more years. Tell the Queensland Government that health matters more than coal: http://sixdegrees.org.au/content/make-submission-new-acland-coal-mine-expansion

On line submission available from http://www.sixdegrees.org.au/content/make-submission-new-acland-coal-mine-expansion

Further information about the project here:

http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/project-s-environmental-impact-assessment-documents.html

(Thanks to Six Degrees and Stop Brisbane Coal Trains for image)

Climate and Health Statement about Coal and Health Impacts

by CAHA

September 3rd, 2014

Joint Statement on the Health Effects of Coal in Australia

The Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate Council have released a Joint Statement on the Health Effects of Coal in Australia in response to the Inquiry report from Hazelwood coal mine fire in Victoria, saying:

“Australia’s heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation and massive coal industry expansion present significant risks to the health of communities, families and individuals.”

The Joint Statement calls for: health risks to be considered in all energy policy and investment decisions;  independent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia; and funding for research into health, social and environmental impacts of coal.

The Joint Statement is accompanied by a Briefing Paper on Health Effects of Coal in Australia which outlines the scientific health and medical literature on the impacts on health from the production of coal.

The Joint Statement is signed by Professor Fiona Stanley, Professor Tim Flannery from the Climate Council and Dr Liz Hanna, President of Climate and Health Alliance on behalf of CAHA’s 27 member organisations.

The Joint Statement reads:

“We, the undersigned, accept the clear evidence that:

1. coal mining and burning coal for electricity emits toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land;
2. coal pollution is linked to the development of potentially fatal diseases and studies show severe health impacts on miners, workers and local communities;
3. Australia’s heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation and massive coal industry expansion present significant risks to the health of communities, families and individuals; and
4. emissions from coal mine fires, like the recent Hazelwood mine fire in Victoria, and the release of heavy metal and organic compounds, pose health risks for surrounding populations, such as respiratory and heart disease, cancers and other health conditions.

“We believe that Federal and State governments must urgently research and account for these risks to human health starting with consistent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia.

“We are calling on governments and industry to acknowledge the significant human health risks associated with the whole lifecycle of coal production – mining, transportation, combustion and the disposal of waste – and to urgently fund research and account for these risks in policy, planning and investment decisions in Australia.

“While we recognise the role coal played in the industrial revolution – as an important energy source helping advance economies
and improve livelihoods – studies now show that every phase of coal’s lifecycle presents major human health risks and contributes to ecological degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change.

“In addition to the release of greenhouse gases, which are the primary cause of climate change, coal mining and electricity generation emit known toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land. These emissions include mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nitrogen oxides and inhalable airborne particulates.

“Authoritative studies in Europe and the United States show severe health impacts from coal emissions on miners, workers and local communities. These studies link coal pollution to the development of potentially fatal diseases, resulting in thousands of premature deaths and costing national economies tens to hundreds of billions of dollars every year. In the United States, the Physicians for Social Responsibility found that coal contributes to four of the five leading causes of mortality: heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic respiratory diseases.

Health risks are not limited to mining and combustion. Emissions from coal mine fires are linked to lung cancer, bronchitis, heart disease and other health conditions. At home, despite Australia’s heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation – it provides 75% of our electricity supply – research and monitoring of the resulting health effects is limited. Most research has been conducted overseas, whereas in Australia – one of the world’s leading producers, consumers and exporters of coal – the burden of disease remains under investigated.

Furthermore, the disease burden will escalate as the massive coal industry expansion underway in Australia presents additional risk to human health in Australia and overseas. The significant health costs associated with coal are not currently reflected in the price of coal-fired electricity in Australia. In 2009, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) estimated coal’s health impacts cost taxpayers $2.6 billion every year.

“A dire lack of monitoring and research in Australia is letting down coal mining communities.”

Recommendations:

1. Coal’s human health risks must be properly considered and accounted for in all energy and resources policy and investment decisions.
2. We also encourage the investment in education and training opportunities to support coal mining communities to transition away from fossil fuel industries towards new industries.
3. National standards for consistent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia conducted by an independent body with no relationship to the coal industry.
4. Adequate funding allocated for research to evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of coal in coal mining communities.

OCAA strongly endorse this approach to protect the health and wellbeing of rural communities, families and individuals in Australia adversely impacted by mining. You only have to witness the past decade of ‘community abuse’ at Acland and Jondaryan by New Hope Coal, and the conveniently shut eyes of Governments to know that reform is long overdue.

 

 

 

COAL DUMP MUST CLOSE

MEDIA RELEASE

OAKEY COAL ACTION ALLIANCE INC  and CLEAN AIR QUEENSLAND

NEW HOPE IN BREACH OF REGULATIONS. COAL DUMP MUST CLOSE

                                                                           August 21th 2014

It is official; air pollution at Jondaryan is regularly exceeding national and International health standards. This includes total suspended particles (fine suspended dust or TSP) and small particulates (PM10).  Both these measures prove serious ongoing pollution arising from the huge New Hope Coal stockpile next to the railway line, at levels known to be injurious to health.

A complaint has been lodged with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, the Premier and the Health Minister by the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, on behalf of those residents of Jondaryan who are suffering ongoing health symptoms due to the proximity of the coal dump to their homes.

The President of OCAA, explains: ‘The Government is well aware of more than a decade of complaints about this controversial coal dump. After relentless pressure they finally agreed to install and conduct a real time air monitoring study for 12months. This new monitor is located close to homes and reads hourly wind direction and particulate pollution (unlike New Hope’s own recording which they measure twice a year in favourable wind conditions, or monthly with cruder funnel type monitors). This sophisticated and accurate real-time monitor has been operational since March this year and every month since we are seeing pollution levels in great excess to Australian Health Standards. On most days of each month Jondaryan air quality is worse than any other place in Queensland. This includes Gladstone, Moranbah and Mt Isa.’

Clean Air Queensland convenor, Mr Michael Kane agrees; ‘This Government must act on this chronic pollution problem. There is now irrefutable evidence that this facility is breaching the Environmental Authority set by DEHP as well as Health Standards that have to be met even by third world countries, let alone developed nations like Australia. There is no point in having these standards if community health is ignored. Our organisation is well aware of people in this town suffering respiratory symptoms, breathlessness, headaches and sleep deprivation. There are days when simple physical tasks are impossible. These homes are virtually worthless and people live in a coal fog on some days and nights, especially in easterly winds which blow over the stockpile.’

New Hope Coal and its parent company Washington Soul Pattison has been in the news regarding more than $700,000 donations to the State and Federal LNP. The OCAA says it is ironic that a leading pharmaceutical and health brand thinks nothing about creating dangerous public health problems on the Darling Downs.

‘They want to expand this mine, and the new coal dumps they keep promising away from Jondaryan are just as bad. One 200,000 tonne, 21metre high dump will be closer to families with children than this current monstrosity,’ OCAA spokesperson said.

Clean Air Queensland and Oakey Coal Action Alliance are united in saying: ‘It is time the Jondaryan coal dump was shut. Premier Newman and the LNP are on notice to put family’s health ahead of  corporate donations.’

   Links Jondaryan Air Quality Government Monitoring

Figures; Jondaryan Air Quality (for August 2014 and monthly averages) from new Government monitor located near residences. Seven days of this month have shown excess levels of air pollution (above the red line)

 

 

Hop on the Clean Air Train!

Lock the Gate Alliance
Your right to a Coal Dust Free Toowoomba-Public Forum  

100 000 uncovered coal wagons pass through Toowoomba every year and it may get much worse.
It’s time to take action.

Clean Air Queensland are fighting for the right of Toowoomba and Darling Downs residents to live without industrial pollution in their homes, schools and workplace.

CAQ have an important meeting planned on coal dust pollution in Toowoomba this Thursday the 24th of July, 7pm- 8.15pm at Holy Name Primary School Hall. Rosewood Street entrance.

841643-toxic-clouds.jpgMine_Blast_12-06-09_007.jpg

These picture of blasting at Acland Coal mine on the Darling Downs proves that giant clouds of toxic gas and dust are regularly billowing out of the mine. These dust clouds contain dangerous chemicals from explosives as well as other poisons and heavy metals and can be deadly.

The bright orange colour is very surreal and gives a clue to how toxic the dust cloud is. The blast chemicals used are thought to cause the colour and contains nitrogen dioxide which if  if inhaled turns into nitric acid! in the lungs. Farmers for miles round Acland have been exposed to these chemicals on a regular basis. There is every reason to think that the chemicals are still present in the uncovered coal trains.

New Hope coal mine surrounds the township of Acland and is only a few kilometres from Oakey. The neighbouring township of Jondaryan is  within 1km of the enormous and uncovered Jondaryan coal stockpile.

50 km away in Toowoomba, 100 000+ uncovered coal wagons pass through the centre of town every year and it looks like there is worse to come with more coal mines planned across the Darling Downs.

Clean Air Campaigner Michael Kane will be presenting at the meeting with representatives from Doctors for the environment and Lock the Gate.

Meeting starts at 7pm at the Holy Name primary school hall (Rosewood Street entrance) .

Please spread the word about this important community action on your networks.

Michael Kane and Clean Air Queensland

Michael has been monitoring coal dust pollution from Jondaryan to the Port of Brisbane and is now campaigning to protect Queensland families from the health effects of coal dust from inappropriate mining and coal transport.

This is your opportunity to get involved and learn more about the growing Clean Air Queensland campaign to cover coal trains, stockpiles and stop coal mining close our homes and suburbs. You will be invited to share your own stories about the effects that 150 000 uncovered coal wagons are having on our homes and health.

Currently 9 million tonnes of uncovered coal passes through Toowoomba every year. This number is set to double within  the next 12 months with the expansion of Acland and other coal mines coming on-line in south-east Queensland.

The Toowoomba meeting follows Clean Air community forums in Yeerongpilly, Wynnum, Jondaryan, Morningside, Corinda and the recent South Brisbane meeting.

Community groups are now forming all along the SEQ coal corridor as a result of these gatherings. Toowoomba is next!

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A few facts

  • Uncovered coal trains and stockpiles release significant amounts of particulate pollution into the air.
  • There is no safe level of exposure to particulate pollution.
  • A Federal Government inquiry recommended tighter regulation, better health assessments, and that all coal trains be covered.
  • 9 million tonnes of coal is transported by uncovered trains through the suburbs of Brisbane each year, with the State Government planning to expand this to up to 20 million tonnes.
  • In a major city in a developed country like Australia, we should expect world’s best practice for dust mitigation – covering coal wagons and stockpiles.
  • Particulate pollution could be reduced by putting lids on coal trains, limiting the number of trains coming through Brisbane, and by covering the stockpiles.
  • More than half of the coal coming through Brisbane is coming from New Hope’s New Acland coal mine.
  • Despite a pre-election commitment to the contrary, the New Acland mine is being allowed to proceed with expansion plans that would see another 2.7 million tonnes of coal coming through Brisbane annually.

Quote from Campbell Newman:

“…I think there’s a time in the not too distant future where the community will be right to start to demand the wagons are closed.” – Nov 20 2012

Good Campaigning,

Michael Kane
Clean Air Queensland
Community Organiser.
cleanairqueensland@gmail.com
www.cleanairqueensland.org
https://www.facebook.com/cleanairqld

Clean Air Queensland http://www.lockthegate.org.au/
Clean Air Queensland, 20 Burke Street, Woolloongabba, QLD 4102
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Jondaryan air pollution

 MEDIA RELEASE

25th May 2014

Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inc, and Clean Air Queensland

 

Jondaryan Monitoring Confirms Health Fears.

 Residents of Jondaryan now have on-line access to hourly pollution readings, after more than three years lobbying by the community groups Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) and Clean Air Queensland (CAQ), their members and supporters.

OCAA spokesperson explains further: ‘We have contacted everyone ;from local MP’s, medical organisations, Toowoomba Regional Council, to Premiers and Prime Ministers. Finally in March this year a new Government monitor was installed at a site in Jondaryan of our choosing. It was crystal clear to us that Governments had been more concerned about the revenue from mining than they are about health implications to communities close to mines or transport corridors’.

 

The high readings for particulate matter (PM 10) and total suspended particles (TSP) at Jondaryan1 vindicate the unrelenting opposition to New Hope Coal and its practices. Elevated readings were well above the Australian Standard of 80ug/m3 for TSP and 50 ug/m3 for PM 10. Pollution can arise from sources such as road works and fires, but the most abundant sources are coal dust and diesel use, such as from the trains and bulldozers operating at Jondaryan. In December last year a study by CAQ showed peak pollution as high as 6000ug/m3 occurred at Jondaryan2.

 

 New Hope Coal is currently seeking approval by the Queensland Government for a Stage 3 expansion of the Acland mine that residents’ state will compound all the current impacts, such as dust, blast tremors, noise and coal train pollution.

 

‘The coal mining and handling methods used by this mob are far from best practice, as these measurements show. Coal stockpiles and trains should be covered and coal dumps should be located many kilometres from residences’ says Michael Kane from CAQ. ’Veneering is just a hairspray for coal and it is not working. If the expansion gets a green light New Hope will most likely cry poor to the Government and say it is too expensive to build the promised spur line away from Jondaryan, due to low coal prices. We have shown coal dust levels are extreme. This disregard of communities on the Downs or along the rail corridor to the Port of Brisbane  is especially outrageous at a time the medical profession is telling us with increased urgency about the serious health impacts of coal’

 

This week a new report ‘Cleaning the Air’ by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) was released amidst calls for binding national air pollution laws3. The report confirms that air pollution in Australia is inadequately regulated, monitored and enforced, Federal leadership is lacking, the States are not enforcing existing laws and as a result more than 3,000 Australians are dying a premature death every year.

This report is timely and accurate as we think district has put up with enough. This company should be investigated properly, by an independent body not receiving donations from New Hope or their affiliates. There are vulnerable families with children and the elderly living near the stockpile and mine. They cannot move and we know a few who are unwell. We dread to think what pollution even more families will need to cope with if the Stage 3 expansion is given the green light and coal output increases again.’

 

For further details:

  1. Jondaryan air monitoring
  2. Peak pollution Jondaryan
  3. Environmental Justice Australia report



 

            

 

 

 

Jondaryan Air Pollution Measurements for Total Suspended Particles (TSP). Small particle pollution (PM 10) is often also elevated above Australian Recommended Standards. May results (top) and April (below).

Upcoming Events

Four events on the Horizon:

1. Anzac day. Acland Anzac ceremony is on at 10 am Tom Doherty Park, 25th April, with a delicious morning tea under the trees to follow.

2. Felton Food Festival, Sunday 27th April , Bryce’s Rd Felton. This is the third festival and promises to be another great day in a beautiful setting. Festival info here

3.High Tea for Koalas. Held at Sugarloaf Farmstay near Kingsthorpe, to raise funds for ‘Return to the Wild Inc’, the Darling Downs koala rescue centre. Date May 7th 10-12. Ring Jeanette 46301109.

4. Celebrating our Environment Expo, 4th June at USQ, where you can meet and chat with OCAA members.

env expo 2014

 

 

 

 

Alternative plan for Acland

                                              5 March 2014

 New Acland Report provides Alternative Vision for Darling Downs

 A new report by energy consultant Trevor Berrill (Acland Sustainable Energy Plan) provides alternatives to the proposed New Hope Acland Mine expansion. In the report, Berrill outlines a solution to the development of solar PV electricity farms on non-strategic cropping land. This would result in income for communities from both farming and electricity generation.

 In the Berrill Report for Acland:

  • Strategic cropping land is fully preserved, protecting agriculture.
  • Solar PV farming is developed, creating more than 180 full-time jobs directly and indefinitely, when combined with farming and tourism jobs. This contrasts with short term jobs from mining booms.
  • A large-scale solar PV farm could potentially produce about $800,000 of income each year to land holders from the 750 hectares of solar farming land identified in the report.
  • This alternative preserves Darling Downs cropping soils, the Great Artesian Basin and Murray Darling Basin. It provides certainty for local communities, who have experienced community destruction, dust and noise impacts for over a decade.

 

‘This is exactly the type of proposal the State Government needs to take seriously.’ said Toby Hutcheon, Executive Director of Queensland Conservation

‘Renewable energy is the future. It is clean and offers huge potential, particularly for regional economies. The draft Queensland Plan also supports the increased uptake of renewable energy.’

 For more Information:

Trevor Berrill: Sustainable Energy Systems Consultant  

Report available at:

http://www.solarissustainablehomes.com.au/reports-free-downloads

(this was a media release by Queensland Conservation )