Global coal study finds serious health impacts in the Hunter likely

A report on international research evidence about the impacts of coal mining on people’s health has found serious illnesses and diseases are rife in communities surrounding coal mines. However, similar studies in Australia’s largest coal mining region in the Hunter Valley still haven’t been done.

The report ‘Health and Social Harms of Mining in Local Communities; Spotlight on the Hunter Region’ highlights the likelihood that communities near Hunter Valley coal mines experience a wide range of adverse health effects including increased rates of cancer, heart, lung and kidney disease and birth defects.

“There are clear indications from the international health research literature that there are serious health and social harms associated with coal mining and coal fired power plants for people living in surrounding communities,” the report states.

The study was commissioned by Beyond Zero Emissions following widespread concern among Hunter Valley communities that the full impact of coal mining and coal-fired power stations remains unknown.

Doctors for the Environment are concerned that inadequate health impact studies had taken place in the Hunter Region. Dr Helen Redmond said, “Local research evidence about the impact of emissions from coal mines and power stations in the Hunter Region is urgently needed so that governments and community can make informed decisions and develop policies to minimise health harms.”

“There is clear evidence of increased rates of cancer among communities close to coal mines and power stations around the world,” Dr Redmond said. “It is difficult not to assume there are serious problems in the Hunter that remain hidden and a thorough study is clearly needed.”

Mark Ogge from BZE said the study underlined the need for an independent authority to monitor harmful emissions from coalmines and power stations, a proper health impact study, a precautionary 10km buffer zones around any new coal mines and port facilities and an end to coal industry tax breaks like the $2 billion diesel fuel rebate. Diesel fuel is listed by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogen.

The report has added to community concerns about the proposed fourth coal terminal (T4) in Newcastle, where coal exports are set to treble to 330 million tonnes each year.

“How can a fourth terminal be contemplated when evidence such as this report demonstrate such serious health impacts?” asked Coal Terminal Action Group spokesperson Dr James Whelan. “The planning process for T4 must be put on hold until a comprehensive study of the current health impacts of coal mining and transport is completed.”

“Tens of thousands of people live within a kilometer of coal mines and trains. The NSW Government can’t responsibly approve a massive increase in coal mining and export while the health impacts remain unknown,” said Dr Whelan.

There are clear indications from the international health research literature that there are serious health and social harms associated with coal mining and coal fired power plants for people living in surrounding communities,” the report states.

 

The study was commissioned by Beyond Zero Emissions following widespread concern among Hunter Valley communities that the full impact of coal mining and coal-fired power stations remains unknown.

 

Doctors for the Environment are concerned that inadequate health impact studies had taken place in the Hunter Region. Dr Helen Redmond said, “Local research evidence about the impact of emissions from coal mines and power stations in the Hunter Region is urgently needed so that governments and community can make informed decisions and develop policies to minimise health harms.”

 

There is clear evidence of increased rates of cancer among communities close to coal mines and power stations around the world,” Dr Redmond said. “It is difficult not to assume there are serious problems in the Hunter that remain hidden and a thorough study is clearly needed.”

 

Mark Ogge from BZE said the study underlined the need for an independent authority to monitor harmful emissions from coalmines and power stations, a proper health impact study, a precautionary 10km buffer zones around any new coal mines and port facilities and an end to coal industry tax breaks like the $2 billion diesel fuel rebate. Diesel fuel is listed by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogen.

 

The report has added to community concerns about the proposed fourth coal terminal (T4) in Newcastle, where coal exports are set to treble to 330 million tonnes each year.

 

How can a fourth terminal be contemplated when evidence such as this report demonstrate such serious health impacts?” asked Coal Terminal Action Group spokesperson Dr James Whelan. “The planning process for T4 must be put on hold until a comprehensive study of the current health impacts of coal mining and transport is completed.”

 

Tens of thousands of people live within a kilometer of coal mines and trains. The NSW Government can’t responsibly approve a massive increase in coal mining and export while the health impacts remain unknown,” said Dr Whelan.

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