Clear the air in coal versus health debate

By Linda Selvey and David Shearman from the Newcastle Herald  12 May

DEA Editorial Comment; This article talks about DEA’s submission opposing this huge project. There seems to be inevitability about the approval of this project which is expected to impose more pollution on an already polluted city. An editorial in the Newcastle Herald on the same day indicates the economic and job opportunities provided. The conflict between these and health is discussed in the DEA article below.

The proposed expansion of coal exports through Newcastle will inevitably increase air pollution. The question is whether this is a threat to the health of Newcastle inhabitants.

The air of Newcastle is already polluted according to the meagre data presented in the Environmental Impact Statement. There is pollution of fine particulates (PM10) in excess of World health Organisation standards at a number of monitoring sites. Yet there is growing recognition that there is no safe level for the finest dust particles.

This pollution is likely to be impacting on the health of inhabitants; there is no evidence for this at present because studies have not been done but similar levels of pollution in many countries do increase the incidence of several heart and lung diseases and decrease life expectancy.

The largest source of particulate emissions within the Newcastle LGA is the existing Port Waratah Coal Services facility at Kooragang. Under the proposed expansion the export of coal will almost double and it seems inconceivable that pollution will not increase. The case made in the EIS for no increase is unconvincing, and the calculations are based on a number of assumptions that may not hold true.

More dust will also arise from the great increase in coal wagons travelling through a number of areas where people live, and again it is remarkable that no information has been provided on the pollution they cause at present.

For these reasons Doctors for the Environment Australia….. Read the full article

Read the sumission on the T4 EIS

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