Clean Air Queensland is gravely concerned but not surprised about reports of the re- emergence of the coal dust related disease, Black Lung in the Queensland coal mining industry.
Clean Air Qld spokesperson, Michael Kane expressed his sympathy and support for workers affected and said the re-emergence of the disease was further reason why the proposed Acland stage 3 mine in the Darling Downs should not proceed.
“Coal workers and the community are being used as the proverbial canaries in the coal mine,” he said. “The case for stricter air pollution regulation in Australia is now stronger than ever,” he said.
Clean Air Queensland is currently a level one objector in the Queensland Land Court appeal against the Acland Coal mine expansion, near Oakey in the Darling Downs.
“We will be campaigning to insure that the coal industry properly accesses past and ongoing risks to the health of workers and the community,” he said.
“The reports of the re- emergence of Black Lung in the Queensland coal industry validate our concerns that the movement of the coal industry into heavily populated area’s in Queensland is putting the community’s health at risk.”
Clean Air Queensland are equally concerned about the health of hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders who live within a few kilometres of coal mines and coal stockpiles or live close to the millions of tonnes of uncovered coal that is transported every year by freight train through dozens of heavily populated towns and cities in Queensland.
Around 40,000 children attend school or day care within 1000 metres of uncovered coal wagons in Queensland alone.
Mr Kane said he had talked to dozens of south-east Qld residents who were adamant that the uncovered coal trains were impacting their health.
Clean Air Queensland has published two independent studies that show extreme levels of coal dust pollution while coal trains are passing or while coal stockpiles are in operation.
“We know that the Queensland coal industry has not been taking health concerns of its workers seriously for many years,” he said.
“Residents who live close to coal facilities do not wear protection and live with coal dust 24 hours per day.
“Clean Air Queensland is calling for an immediate and independent investigation into the latest reports of the re- emergence of Black Lung disease in Queensland’s coal workers and the effectiveness of current industry and governmental management of the health risks of coal mining.”
According to National Pollution Inventory (NPI), a government website, the top five polluting coal mines in Australia are all in Queensland including the Goonyella, Peak Downs, Blackwater, Dawson and Saraji mines. http://www.npi.gov.au/
Mr Kane said: “Particulate pollution from Queensland mines has grown 300 per cent over the last 10 years and the pollution from some mines has increased by 50 per cent in the past year.