Three Brisbane suburbs vote to go coal dust free for the sake of their health

Published: June 14, 2014

Three Brisbane suburbs have now voted to go coal dust free with Corinda this week joining Wynnum and Morningside.

Corinda residents attended a community health meeting on Wednesday at St John’s Lutheran Church. They voted unanimously to demand coal wagons and coal stockpiles be covered so their suburb and others can be coal dust free.

Residents are demanding to be coal dust free for the sake of their health and to stop the dust covering their homes and businesses.

The community meeting was organised by Clean Air Queensland (CAQ) and Friends of the Earth (FoE). Karin English from the Queensland Children's Medical Research and Institute (QCMRI) and CAQ campaigner, Michael Kane addressed the gathering.

Ms English spoke about the health effects of particulate pollution, including coal dust and answered questions from concerned locals about the likely impacts of 140,000 uncovered coal wagons passing close to their homes every year.

She warned residents that particulate pollution is a ‘class one carcinogen’ and that dust from uncovered coal wagons and stockpiles could severely impact people of all ages.

"Coal dust has health impacts at every stage of life," she said. "We know that people exposed to coal dust suffer from increased respiratory problems such as asthma and there is no safe level of exposure.”

Mr Kane said more people in Australia died from exposure to particulate pollution than car accidents and there was “overwhelming support” for coal wagons and stockpiles to be covered.

Every year 3,500 uncovered coal trains carrying nine million tonnes of coal travel through 21 suburbs between Ipswich and Wynnum, including Corinda 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.

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’.

“The suburbs of Brisbane have already become part of a super coal highway without any public consultation or adequate concern for the health impacts of coal dust,” he said.

"We know that coal dust causes serious health problems yet the coal industry is allowed to continue its expansion into heavily populated centres in Queensland."

CAQ will continue the campaign in the South-East Queensland coal corridor with more public meetings planned for South Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba soon.

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

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