Morningside residents today voted unanimously to demand coal wagons and coal stockpiles be covered so their suburb can be coal dust free.
Morningside joins the nearby suburb of Wynnum demanding to be coal dust free for the sake of residents’ health and to stop the dust covering their homes and businesses.
About 60 residents attended a community health forum at the Uniting Church at Morningside, organised by Clean Air Queensland (CAQ).
Every year 3,500 uncovered coal trains carrying nine million tonnes of coal travel through 21 suburbs between Ipswich and Wynnum on their way to the Port of Brisbane. The State Government plans to increase this to 20 million tonnes a year with the expansion of the Acland coal mine, near Toowoomba and the many other mines planned in south-east Queensland.
Dr David King, of the University of Queensland and Doctors for the Environment, addressed the gathering and said there was insufficient discussion about the health effects of coal.
“There’s always a lot of talk about water quality and the environment being effected by coal mining but very little about the health impacts on individuals and communities,” he said.
“Australia has very little data on the health impacts of coal but there is ample evidence from overseas studies to prove it causes respiratory diseases, strokes, heart attacks and premature death.”
Drew Hutton, spokesperson for the Lock the Gate Alliance, said we should decrease the number of mines.
“The only way to ensure health in our cities is to have fewer coal mines and make sure they are away from where people live,” he said. “Renewables can compete with the dirty fossil fuel industry and governments must have the political will to allow this through economies of scale.”
CAQ spokesman Michael Kane said 40,000 children in south-east Queensland attended day care or schools less than one kilometre from uncovered coal trains.
“If countries like the Philippines can cover coal wagons stockpiles, so can Australia,” he said.
Mr Kane has been monitoring coal dust levels along the train lines and has recorded levels higher than those recorded at Newcastle, Australia’s ‘coal capital’.
“Today’s vote is just fabulous for the people of Morningside who simply want to protect their health and that of their children.”
Quote from Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman: "...I think there's a time in the not too distant future where the community will be right to start to demand the wagons are closed.” ABC radio, November 20, 2012