The Queensland Government should seriously examine the Coal and Health in the Hunter report released by the Climate and Health Alliance today, says Clean Air Queensland (CAQ).
The report estimated that burning coal for electricity in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales alone produced health damage costing about $600 million annually from the air pollution produced.
CAQ spokesman Michael Kane said the health cost to Queenslanders was probably greater than in New South Wales per capita.
“Clean Air Queensland is extremely concerned about the implications of this latest report because Queensland has more pollution from coal than New South Wales,” he said.
“The Federal Government’s National Pollution Inventory data base last year showed Queensland has six of Australia’s 10 most polluting industrial sites,” Mr Kane said. “All of these high-polluting sites are coal mines.”
Mr Kane said that state and federal governments were not factoring health into their cost benefit analysis when they approved coal projects in populated areas. “It would seem that community health has become collateral damage to the coal industry,” he said.
“The costs of coal production are not being borne by the government or by the mining companies, but by communities and taxpayers whose health is impacted.”
Mr Kane said current government regulation on emissions had failed to protect communities in Queensland.
The Coal and Health in the Hunter report, commissioned by 28 Australian health groups, was signed by Alliance president, Dr Liz Hanna, (a research fellow in epidemiology at the Australian National University), James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and Professor Fiona Stanley, former Australian of the Year.
The group believes there should be a moratorium on coal expansion and that coal production be phased out.