Coal Train Pollution Signature Study

August 2013

Community groups in Newcastle and the Hunter consider coal dust a significant health problem. With more than 100 coal trains passing through residential areas each day, residents have become increasingly informed about the impacts of pollution from uncovered coal wagons, and supportive of measures to reduce this pollution.

Between Monday 15 July and Wednesday 17 July 2013, members of several community groups monitored particle pollution levels in residential areas of Beresfield, Sandgate and Mayfield. With expert advice and assistance, we monitored particle pollution concentrations while 73 loaded and unloaded coal trains passed. The Osiris equipment utilised for the study allowed for concurrent monitoring of various particle sizes: PM1 and PM2.5 that are associated with combustion (e.g. train locomotives) and the larger PM10 particles, which are indicative of coal.

This report documents the findings of this study, and provides conclusive evidence of the contribution that coal trains make to ambient particulate pollution for residents and communities adjacent to the coal corridor.

Download the full report or download the executive summary.

Coal dust in our suburbs: A community-led study of particle pollution in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter coal train corridor

March 2013

There is a lack of data about ambient air quality in localities within close proximity to industrial (specifically coal) infrastructure around the Port of Newcastle and along coal rail lines in Newcastle and the Hunter. Coal loaders, stockpiles, trains and rail corridors are substantial sources of coal-related particle pollution, which is of significant concern to many residents in Newcastle and the Hunter.

During December 2012 and January 2013, community groups monitored air quality at twelve residences in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter to assess the level of particle pollution in residential areas close to coal trains and stockpiles.

This report presents an overview of the study, and presents the results from sites where substantial air pollution issues were indicated during this monitoring period. The analysis of monitoring data and the conclusions drawn are based upon independent analysis and interpretation carried out by air quality experts.

Download the full report here.

Protecting Communities from Coal Dust: A guide to international best practice techniques to minimise and control dust from coal mining and export activities from pit to port

May 2013

This guide has been developed for people living in coal-affected communities living near ports, along coal train lines and near mines. It is a tool to assess what coal companies are doing to protect local residents from the harms of dust pollution. The guide describes over a hundred techniques drawn from national and international literature that coal companies can implement to minimise and stop dust pollution at each stage of the coal chain.

This guide is intended provide communities with a 'one stop shop' for dust minimisation techniques for coal activities from the pit to port. It is a live document and will be updated as new information and measures are understood and developed. Updated versions will be accessible through the Hunter Community Environment Centre website.

Download the Best Practice Guide here.

Sick of Coal: Community Attitudes Towards The Proposed Fourth Coal Terminal in Newcastle

August 2012

Motivated by common concerns around a proposal to increase the throughput of the world's largest coal port with an additional terminal, 14 community groups in the region decided to collaborate against the approval of this development. These groups resolved to conduct a community survey in the suburbs that would be most acutely affected and impacted by its approval. This report summarises both the process and the results of 580 conversations that we had with residents of Newcastle about their attitudes towards the fourth coal terminal.

These conversations were the foundation of the Coal Terminal Action Group, an alliance of more than 20 resident, environmental and consultative groups in the Hunter Valley opposed to the approval of the fourth coal terminal. 

Download the full report here.

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