The Hunter Community Environment Centre have today described the dust control measures of Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) as a long overdue vindication of the community’s concerns around air quality in the coal-impacted suburbs. But they have criticised the approach as falling well short of both best practice emissions technology and community expectations.
“Today’s admission by PWCS that they are significant contributors to air pollution vindicates the long-standing concerns of the community. But these efforts are clearly designed to win over hearts and minds, because they certainly won’t win any awards for environmental performance,” said Hunter Community Environment Centre (HCEC) spokesperson John Mackenzie.
“We acknowledge that efforts to reduce their fugitive emissions are a step in the right direction. But PWCS’s limited efforts to reduce their pollution load shows that they are only half listening to the community. This is a company that has repeatedly and stubbornly refused to conduct health assessments of their current operations, let alone assess impacts of their proposed fourth terminal on the health of residents in surrounding suburbs. This is despite the repeated insistence of NSW Health and concerted pleas by resident groups.”
“T4 will add more particle pollution to our air. Particulate pollution in Newcastle already breaches the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation. The community already lives with levels of pollution in the air that risk our health, even without the additional burden of the fourth terminal. If PWCS were serious about addressing their contributions to air pollution, they would properly assess the risks of T4, particularly to vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with chronic disease.”
“If PWCS were genuinely listening to community concerns, the T4 proposal would be very different. At the very least, the terminal proposal would use world’s best practice in environmental and community health protection, included covered stockpiles and wagon technology. Instead, they propose outdated technology which is hardly suited to the port of a modern city, especially one surrounded by homes and workplaces.”
“What this demonstrates is that PWCS care more about being seen to do the right thing, and much less about the actual health and wellbeing of the community in which they operate.”