The Banana Shire Council has approved a massive coal loading facility on the outskirts of Moura after the Queensland Coordinator General threatened to exert “step in” powers and make the decision himself to “fast track” the proposal, stripping the local community of its appeal rights.
Public comment on the project closed on April 30 and the Coordinator General’s deadline for a decision by the council was today, leaving the council with just four weeks to assess widespread community concern about the project.
Local community submissions to the project included extensive wind speed and direction data from a local airstrip which contradicts the modelling used by the company. This information was not used in the Council’s condition report.
Submissions to council regarding the project, which are publicly available, included data showing that the wind speed and wind direction assumptions used in the facility's air pollution modelling are significant underestimations of the actual wind conditions at the site. Even within this flawed modelling scenario, the project states there is "a "moderate likelihood of PM10 exceedances".
The coal loading facility will be 2.5 km from the town of Moura and will handle up to 3.5 million tonnes of coal every year.
Central Queensland Spokesperson for the Lock the Gate Alliance, Ellie Smith, said coal facility had been mired in controversy since it was first proposed due to the anticipated health impacts from increased coal dust pollution.
“We know these facilities create large dust plumes every time a truck off-loads its coal or a train is filled with coal, but this facility has been approved with an assessment of generic data rather than local weather records,” Said Ms Smith
“The health of the people of Moura is being put at risk by a develop at all costs mentality. This is the deputy premier’s own electorate yet he seems to be pushing the coal industry’s interests ahead of those of the people of Moura. The question is ‘why?’,” Ms Smith said.
“The people of Moura deserve an explanation and they deserve a better deal. Can Mr Seeney give a 100 per cent assurance to residents in the town that their health and that of their children will not be impacted by coal dust pollution?”
This announcement comes days after the release of data from the National Pollutant Inventory showed that Queensland is the most polluted state in terms of the levels of particulate matter, with eight of the nation’s top ten dust emitting coal mines located here.
The health effects of PM10 (particle/dust) pollution include: effects on breathing and respiratory systems, damage to lung tissue, cancer, and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma, are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter.