The NSW Government's air quality monitoring network in the Hunter Valley has issued its 100th air pollution alert for the year, just a few days before the beginning of a court case against a major new mine proposal that would increase harmful pollution events in the region.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage issues warnings to subscribers by SMS and email, when air pollution in the Hunter exceeds national health standards. The latest alert has been issued due to poor air quality in Camberwell, just as local residents in that village gear up for a Land and Environment Court challenge against the O'Farrell Government's approval of the proposed Ashton (South East Open Cut) mine. The Hunter Environment Lobby has launched a legal challenge against the mine project, by Chinese Government-owned Yancoal, with the case due to begin in the Land and Environment Court next week.
“The people of Camberwell are already choking on mine dust, as the NSW Government's own data show,” said Steve Phillips, Hunter regional coordinator for the Lock The Gate Alliance. “The proposed South East Open Cut mine would make air quality in Camberwell and Singleton much worse, which is why NSW Health Department remains opposed to the proposal.”
“Even though the Health Department is against the mine, and even though Camberwell residents have already had a lung-full of coal dust, the O'Farrell Government approved the new open cut project in October last year. The message to the people of the Hunter was clear: your health is less important than coal mining.”
“According to the EPA, 87.6% of PM10 air pollution in the Hunter comes from coal mining, and 66% of PM2.5 pollution. Hunter residents have now been told for the one hundredth time this year that their air is unsafe to breathe. It is clear that the Hunter Valley is facing a crisis of air pollution caused by open cut coal mining. Any further coal mine development in the Hunter will only exacerbate the crisis, and harm the health of the public."
“We call on Premier O'Farrell to stop any further coal mining expansion in the Hunter until this crisis is resolved.”
The Hunter Environment Lobby case against the approval of the South East Open Cut project begins in the Land and Environment Court, Macquarie Street, Sydney, on Monday 2nd September. Supporters will rally outside the hearing at 9:30am. On Wednesday 4th September the hearing will be held at Singleton Court House, and supporters will rally outside at 10:30am.
Due to proposed changes to laws and regulations by the O'Farrell Government, it may be the last time a local group has the opportunity to challenge a coal mine approval in court.