Coal train ‘signature’ study starts in Newcastle

Community groups will monitor the particle pollution from coal trains in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter next week to establish the ‘signature’ of coal trains. Using industry standard equipment, residents will monitor concentrations of PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 as loaded and unloaded coal wagons pass through their suburbs.

Citizen science responds to industry and government failure

“Fifty loaded coal trains and another fifty unloaded coal trains pass through our suburbs each day already,” said Coal Terminal Action Group spokesperson Ms Fee Mozeley. “Given each coal train hauls about 80 wagons, that’s more than 8,000 coal wagons every day, dispersing millions of fine particles into the environment where we live, work and play."

“The proposed fourth coal terminal is set to double the number of coal trains, and in turn, double the amount of harmful coal dust pollution,” said Ms Mozeley. “It’s about time we knew exactly how polluting these coal trains are.”

“Particle pollution levels exceed the national standard in suburbs along the coal corridor,” said Ms Mozeley. “The 30,000 people who live within 500m of the world’s busiest coal train line have a right to know how particle pollution levels increase as coal trains pass their homes.”

The Coal Terminal Action Group, an alliance of 20 community groups, previously monitored ambient concentrations of PM10 (particles up to ten microns in diameter) at eleven households in Newcastle and Maitland. This second study will entail monitoring PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations while loaded and unloaded coal trains pass. The group will monitor at Beresfield, Hexham and Waratah on Monday July 15 and Tuesday July 16.

The group’s monitoring will be filmed by the ABC’s ‘Catalyst’ science program for a forthcoming episode on fine particle pollution. Community interest in particle pollution from coal trains has increased in the wake of the controversial Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) study of coal wagon emissions. The study’s conclusions were modified one day before being released to down-play pollution from coal wagons. A peer review of the study found “major flaws” in its design and interpretation.

Monday July 15, 11am-5pm at Beresfield station, Addison Street Beresfield
Tuesday July 16, 9am-5pm at Shamrock Street Hexham
Tuesday evening July 16, from 8.30pm at Waratah Station, Platt Street Waratah or Upfold Street Mayfield


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