Proposed coal terminal would reduce life expectancy in Newcastle according to international research

The proposed fourth coal terminal could increase mortality rates by approximately 1% in parts of Newcastle, according to international research presented at City Hall today.

International expert Professor Arden C Pope, guest speaker at the ‘Air pollution and health’ forum at Newcastle City Hall today, summarised several studies that show a linear and causal relationship between particle pollution concentrations and adverse health impacts including asthma, hospital admission and premature death. Globally, 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to particle pollution.

“Professor Pope’s research presents compelling reasons to reject the proposed fourth coal terminal and take urgent action to reduce pollution from our three existing coal terminals,” said Coal Terminal Action Group spokesperson Ms Fee Mozeley.

“There is over-whelming evidence that reducing particle pollution in Newcastle would improve community health and increase life expectancy,” said Ms Mozeley.

“There is no level below which particle pollution does not diminish respiratory and cardiovascular health,” “new evidence shows damaging effects on children’s neuro development, and on cognitive decline in older adults from air pollution. These effects were previously unsuspected” said CTAG adviser and epidemiologist Dr Ben Ewald. “Particle pollution levels in the Upper and Lower Hunter exceed relevant national and international standards often enough that additional pollution sources such as coal terminals and increased urban coal transport should not be approved.”

The Preferred Project Report for T4 is currently on public display, with submissions due by 28 October. The NSW Government has established a three-member Planning Assessment Commission that will consider submissions before holding public hearings in Newcastle later this year. Community groups will host a public assembly at City Hall on Tuesday 15 October to prepare community members for these public hearings.

The forum follows the release of the findings of the Upper Hunter particle characterisation study last week and the commencement of a Lower Hunter particle characterisation study that will identify the sources of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution in Newcastle. Experts including Associate Professor Howard Bridgman of the University of Newcastle contradicted media reports that wood smoke is the primary source of particle pollution in the Hunter, clarifying that coal particles are generally in the PM2.5 to PM10 size range. According to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority, coal mining is responsible for almost 90% of the Valley’s PM10.

During the two-day conference, four air pollution alerts were issued for the Hunter Valley.

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