Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Acland Mine Economic Claims are on Shaky Ground

MEDIA RELEASE 13th Dec 2013

Oakey Coal Action Alliance executive have welcomed the recent Australia Institute critique of New Hope Coal’s Acland mine economic claims, called ‘Biting the land that feeds you. The economics of the New Acland Coal Mine.’ John Cook, newly elected President of the community group formed several years ago in opposition to the Acland Stage 3 expansion, agreed with the report which highlights the lack of local or regional benefits from mining at Acland. ‘We hear frequent first-hand accounts of the adverse economic impacts of this mine. It brought about the closure of an entire township and many farms and this has drawn the lifeblood from the surrounding district. Farming, families, schools and allied small businesses mean jobs and cash flow in the local economy. The jobs lost from Acland and district are not matched by the number of mine employees now, nor what is claimed if expansion is approved’ he said.

The Australia Institute is an independent public policy think tank, whose researchers have previously drawn attention to the adverse economic impacts of Clive Palmer’s China First mine in the Galilee Basin and the Warkworth mine in NSW. They say that resource industry job estimates are grossly exaggerated, particularly when secondary jobs are calculated. They state that these indirect job calculations are described as biased by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Productivity Commission and yet resource companies like New Hope Coal continue to use them.

They were especially critical of New Acland Coal’s cost benefit analysis conducted for the 2009 Stage 3 Environmental Impact Statement. It failed to consider the lost agricultural income and the costs to the community in closed businesses, lost retail and health impacts. Report authors Rod Campbell and Mark Ogge said all these impacts should be taken into account when mine expansions are assessed, not just substitute jobs and wages.

From pit to port, the Acland mine has been a controversial project since its 2001 beginnings. Acland is one of the few coal mines in the inner Downs, and which was a closely knit rich agricultural district boasting 70 dairy farms. The buy up and clearing of the Acland town and surrounding farms many years before  further mining had been granted approval has subsequently been in the media spotlight for a range of health and social impacts.

‘There are much bigger employers in the Oakey district than this mine’ adds John Cook ‘Fortunately many people see through New Hope’s recent round of donations for what they are; purely a ploy to get Stage 3 approval. These handouts cannot undo the environmental, social and economic harm this mine has already caused. It is high time that Governments listened more closely to what Queensland communities need for a healthy, sustainable and productive future.’

To read this informative report follow this link:

http://www.tai.org.au/content/biting-land-feeds-you

 

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

 

 

 

Quilts and Questions at Acland

  Lots of Quilts and Questions at Acland.
Tom Doherty Park, Acland has undergone a rejuvenation   recently and had its play equipment, signage and seats restored and returned.
Now this may not seem much, but the signs were taken away in 2005 on the eve of the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh opening the Stage 2 New Acland open cut pit. New Hope Coal had bought up the town with the intention of mining the lot. Glenn Beutel, the last resident and the community fought back, and although a revised Stage 3 EIS is still being prepared, the town site and park, war memorial and Heritage listed old colliery is safe for now. At least 2.5 million tonnes of coal per annum will be kept in the ground because of this town site and park, and much more beyond this if the local community have their way.
On Saturday 23 rd Nov 2013 Acland was looking a picture with a crowd of locals, interstate visitors and a bus from Bridging the Divide, Brisbane enjoying many lovely quilts strung between the trees,  stalls, children’s art activities and a informative and probing Q and A session we reckon outdid Tony Jones!

Our very special guests at the ‘Historic Acland Day. Alive and Active into the Future’ included ABC Gardening Australia presenter Jerry Coleby- Williams and Glenys Andersen OAM, founder of the Tidy Towns competition and former Director of Keep Australia Beautiful Committee.

Before the official unveiling by the Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor of the imposing ‘Queensland’s First Tidiest Town’ and historic ‘Acland’ railway signage Glenys talked of her fond memories of the park in its hey day’s of the eighties and nineties when it was judged the Tidiest Town over 330 others. She said this return visit was very emotional for her, firstly to see the town as it is today flattened of houses, but also to witness the enduring spirit of those fighting to save what is left of the district. Her Tidiest Town efforts have been credited with instigating the planting of 15 million trees across Australia, including thousands at Acland. What a legacy that is!

Jerry spoke of the power of small actions by many people bringing about massive positive change, and the vital need to look after Australia’s precious soil and water. During the Q and A he also explained simply but beautifully for the audience the importance of soil biomass (mycorrhizal fungi, organic matter and bacteria), which is abundant in normal soils but lacking in reclaimed soils.
The expert panel for the ’Question and Acland’ session including Doctors, Church leaders, environmentalists, farmers, horticulturists and  the Mayor.

The day was declared a great success by members of the Oakey Coal Action Alliance who organised the event and our many friends and supporters. A massive scarf over 100 metres long knitted by Nanas from all over Australia now adorns the trees of Tom Doherty Park! Perhaps a woollen scarf is overkill in this sweltering Queensland summer, but it is a wonderful symbol that the small united efforts of many hands and hearts will eventually prevail.

Thanks to 360°org, Bridging the Divide, Knitting Nanas, High Country News and Oakey Champion for their publicity and the many people who made this event a great success.

Please follow this link for some great pictures of the day:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andryahart/sets/72157637991739723/