Community groups demand that PWCS commit to World’s Best Practice coal dust suppression

Community groups opposed to a fourth coal terminal in Newcastle have challenged Port Waratah Coal Services to demonstrate that they are using World’s Best Practice to minimise coal dust pollution at their existing coal terminals.

“We’re giving PWCS’ Chief Executive Officer Henny Du Plooy two weeks to assess their existing operations and to demonstrate precisely which coal dust minimisation techniques are being implemented,” said Coal Terminal Action Group (CTAG) spokesperson Ms Fee Mozeley.

CTAG has reviewed national and international literature to compile a ‘Best Practice Guide to Coal Dust Minimisation’ that describes 103 techniques to suppress and prevent particle emissions at each stage of the coal chain from pit to port. The Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group that owns and operates the third of Newcastle’s coal terminals will also be asked to report on the dust control techniques they have in place.

The groups’ assessment of coal terminal dust minimisation techniques follows a week when the NSW Environmental Protection Authority issued 23 air pollution alerts in the Hunter Valley.

Community groups have ongoing fears because of the announcement today that PWCS will continue to seek development approval for T4 despite having no capacity shortfall to be fulfilled through the proposed T4 Project.

“There is no question that the coal industry is a major contributor to air pollution in Newcastle and the Hunter and that air quality must improve to protect community health,” said Ms Mozeley. “What is our city’s largest coal exporter doing to minimise their contribution to this problem?”

In March 2012, Mr Du Plooy committed1 the company to coal dust suppression measures including:
Water sprays on stacking and reclaiming equipment
Real-time monitoring that responds to weather conditions and automatically turns on water sprays
Extending ship loader spouts so that they deliver coal deeper into the vessels
Screening and installing environmental bunding
Installing cladding on transfer houses
Wind guarding on conveyors.

“The Newcastle community already suffers adverse health from the three existing coal terminals that exported more than 100 million tonnes of coal in 2012,” said Ms Mozeley. “Before this company seeks NSW Government approval for a fourth Newcastle coal terminal, we demand that they put in place all possible dust minimisation arrangements.”

“We will communicate our assessment of PWCS’ coal dust minimisation arrangements to the NSW Government, urging the Premier to insist that PWCS does everything possible to protect community health before any additional coal terminal is considered.”

The fourth coal-loading terminal would potentially treble the volume of coal transported through Newcastle to 330 million tones per annum.

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