Category Archives: Health

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OAKEY GROUP MOVES TO CHALLENGE ACLAND STAGE 3 IN COURT

A local community group, Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA), has launched legal action against the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion on the Darling Downs in Queensland.

The group lodged a formal submission to the project and last week made a final decision to pursue an objection to the damaging New Hope Coal expansion in the Queensland Land Court.

The group is comprised of farmers and residents from the local area and surrounds who will be affected by the proposed mine expansion. Frank and Lynn Ashman are beef cattle stud owners at Brymaroo, on the Downs and Mr Ashman is OCAA president.

“The Acland Stage 3 coal expansion represents a serious threat to our farms, our livelihoods and the health of our local community,” Mr Ashman said.

“We have taken the very difficult step of objecting to the project in the Land Court because of the severe and unacceptable impacts it will have on the environment and our community.

“Our case will be that the expansion should not proceed because of the impacts it will have on many aspects including groundwater resources, important farming land and the health of local families.

“The mine will destroy 1,300 hectares of Strategic Cropping Land located on the fertile soils of our nationally significant food-bowl on the Darling Downs.

It will cause groundwater aquifers to drop by up to 47 metres in some locations and will leave final holes or ‘voids’ that will cover more than 450 hectares.

“The expansion will worsen air quality for people and farmers surrounding the mine, most of whom are already living with degraded air quality from the current mine.

“We will also contend in court that the costs of this expansion to Queensland far outweigh any public benefits, particularly as mine proponent has estimated that it pays 77 per cent of royalties to itself and only seven per cent to the State Government.”

OCAA will be represented in the Land Court by lawyers from community legal centre, Environmental Defenders Office (Qld).

“Today we’re also calling on people all across Australia to support our local community because we can’t do this alone,” Mr Ashman said.

“We’re asking for our supporters to donate to the Acland fighting fund that has been launched today by Lock the Gate and will be used to support the campaign against this dangerous coal mine.”

People can donate to the fighting fund, launched by Lock the Gate Alliance, for the continued campaign against the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion at: www.lockthegate.org.au/acland_donate

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection must refer objections to the Land Court by the end of this week then the case is expected to begin within about a month.

 

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)

 

 

Peak Pollution off the scale at Jondaryan

Community monitoring draws national attention to coal health hazard

Clean Air Queensland Alliance

 Clean Air Queensland, an alliance of community groups including OCAA, recently announced the results of their community air quality monitoring study at the Jondaryan stockpile, to coincide with a feature report on the national program The Project.

Using industry-standard air quality monitoring equipment, members of Clean Air Queensland monitored particle pollution levels beside the coal stockpile. The equipment measures respirable particles of ten microns in diameter (PM10). With expert assistance to deploy the monitoring equipment and analyse the data, Clean Air Queensland has launched their report ‘Off the Scale: Peak pollution events at the Jondaryan coal stockpile’.

The report reveals that PM10 pollution levels in the area, just 550 metres from the nearest home in Jondaryan, peak at over 6000 micrograms per cubic metre. This is compared to the national standard of 50 micrograms per cubic metre over a 24 hour average.

“Particulate pollution causes asthma, lung cancer and respiratory illnesses, and has recently been classified by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogen. It’s time for the Queensland Government to start protecting the health of our communities,” epidemiologist Dr Andrew Jeremijenko said.

“Coal dust is a major source of particulate pollution, which kills more Australians each year than car crashes. We’ve found evidence of regular extreme peaks in particulate pollution at the stockpile and we’re concerned about the health impact this is having on local residents. Families here, and all along the coal dust corridor to the port in Brisbane, are being impacted by coal dust,” Clean Air Queensland spokeswomen Hannah Aulby said.

The Queensland Government is supporting plans to double the amount of coal travelling from Jondaryan through Ipswich, Toowoomba and Brisbane suburbs to the port. Coal dust is a serious health hazard at current levels, and any expansion plans will put more families and communities living along the coal dust corridor at risk,” said OCAA president Peter Faulkner.

“We’re calling on the Queensland Government to take this health concern seriously. We need a commitment to cover the coal trains and stockpiles, and stop any increases in uncovered coal train traffic through Brisbane,” Ms Aulby concluded.

OCAA representatives recently met with the Premier, Environment Minister and Mining Minister. Mr Newman stated his commitment for real time monitoring for coal  impacted Queensland communities.

The Qld ALP passed a motion to cover coal trains and stockpiles, and stop any increases in coal train traffic through residential areas at the State ALP conference on the weekend.

The extreme results of this pilot study indicate the urgency for proper monitoring, and the need for immediate actions to close or cover this disgraceful  and notorious coal loading facility. If Stage 3 goes ahead it will be several years before any promised  spur line is complete, and New Hope’s own revised Stage 3 Project Overview states that three new pits will be operating long before then. Noise and air pollution will be worse for Jondaryan residents, not better. This is yet another Pinocchio promise by New Hope Coal!

Web link is here http://www.cleanairqueensland.org/monitoring_study