Particle pollution up to 13 times higher as coal trains pass: NSW Premier urged to cover coal wagons

Particle pollution levels increase by up to 13 times while coal trains pass through suburbs in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter, a new study has found.

Community groups concerned about dust and health monitored particle pollution in residential areas in July and released the results of their study at Newcastle City Hall tonight, stressing the need for urgent action from the NSW Government.

The results demonstrate that all coal trains increase particle pollution levels, with unloaded coal trains causing the highest pollution levels.

“The study shows that coal trains dramatically increase pollution levels in residential areas”, said Dr James Whelan, chair of the Coal Terminal Action Group’s Dust and Health Committee.

“The NSW Government needs to act urgently to reduce particle pollution from coal trains,” said Dr Whelan. “It’s time for Premier Barry O’Farrell to instruct the coal industry to cover loaded wagons and wash empty ones.”

“More than 100 loaded and unloaded coal trains pass through our suburbs each day already,” said Dr Whelan. “That’s more than 8,000 coal wagons every day, dispersing millions of fine particles into the coal corridor where 30,000 people live and 25,000 children attend school.”

During July, community groups monitored particle pollution from coal trains at three locations to establish the ‘signature’ of coal trains in residential areas. Using industry standard equipment, the groups monitored concentrations of PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 as coal wagons passed through suburbs in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter. Study results show that loaded and unloaded show coal trains increase pollution levels by 200%-1200%, prompting calls for coal wagons to be covered and washed.

The results of the community-led monitoring study were released at Newcastle City Hall tonight, coinciding with an ABC ‘Catalyst’ program featuring the study.

The group’s monitoring was filmed by the ABC’s ‘Catalyst’ science program for a special episode on fine particle pollution. Community interest in particle pollution from coal trains increased following the controversial Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) study of coal train pollution. The ARTC study’s conclusions were ‘doctored’ just one day before being released to understate pollution from coal wagons. A peer review of the study found “major flaws” in its design and interpretation.

The study also coincides with the NSW Government’s assessment of a fourth coal terminal (T4) that would double Newcastle’s coal exports, and double the number of coal trains. Newcastle is the world’s largest coal port. It exported 150 million tonnes of coal last year.

“Now is no time to be considering a fourth coal terminal that would double the number of coal trains and the amount of harmful coal dust pollution in Newcastle.”

Community groups concerned about dust and health monitored particle pollution in residential areas in July and released the results of their study at Newcastle City Hall tonight, stressing the need for urgent action from the NSW Government.

 

The results demonstrate that all coal trains increase particle pollution levels, with unloaded coal trains causing the highest pollution levels.

 

The study shows that coal trains dramatically increase pollution levels in residential areas”, said Dr James Whelan, chair of the Coal Terminal Action Group’s Dust and Health Committee.

 

The NSW Government needs to act urgently to reduce particle pollution from coal trains,” said Dr Whelan. “It’s time for Premier Barry O’Farrell to instruct the coal industry to cover loaded wagons and wash empty ones.”

 

More than 100 loaded and unloaded coal trains pass through our suburbs each day already,” said Dr Whelan. “That’s more than 8,000 coal wagons every day, dispersing millions of fine particles into the coal corridor where 30,000 people live and 25,000 children attend school.”

 

During July, community groups monitored particle pollution from coal trains at three locations to establish the ‘signature’ of coal trains in residential areas. Using industry standard equipment, the groups monitored concentrations of PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 as coal wagons passed through suburbs in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter. Study results show that loaded and unloaded show coal trains increase pollution levels by 200%-1200%, prompting calls for coal wagons to be covered and washed.

 

The results of the community-led monitoring study were released at Newcastle City Hall tonight, coinciding with an ABC ‘Catalyst’ program featuring the study.

 

The group’s monitoring was filmed by the ABC’s ‘Catalyst’ science program for a special episode on fine particle pollution. Community interest in particle pollution from coal trains increased following the controversial Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) study of coal train pollution. The ARTC study’s conclusions were ‘doctored’ just one day before being released to understate pollution from coal wagons. A peer review of the study found “major flaws” in its design and interpretation.

 

The study also coincides with the NSW Government’s assessment of a fourth coal terminal (T4) that would double Newcastle’s coal exports, and double the number of coal trains. Newcastle is the world’s largest coal port. It exported 150 million tonnes of coal last year.

 

Now is no time to be considering a fourth coal terminal that would double the number of coal trains and the amount of harmful coal dust pollution in Newcastle.”

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