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