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Jondaryan monitoring confirms health fears from coal

Residents of Jondaryan now have on-line access to hourly pollution readings, after more than three years lobbying by the community groups Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) and Clean Air Queensland (CAQ), their members and supporters.

OCAA President John Cook said the group had contacted local MPs, medical organisations, Toowoomba Regional Council, the Queensland Premier and the Prime Minister about the need for monitoring.

A monitor was eventually installed in March at a site in Jondaryan on the Darling Downs. Mr Cook said the high readings for particulate matter (PM 10) and total suspended particles (TSP) at Jondaryan1 vindicated the unrelenting opposition to the New Hope Coal company and its practices.

Elevated readings were well above the Australian Standard of 80ug/m3 for TSP and 50 ug/m3 for PM 10. The most prevalent sources of air pollution at Jondaryn are from coal dust and diesel use, such as from the trains and bulldozers operating. In December last year a study by CAQ showed peak pollution as high as 6000ug/m3 Jondaryan2.

“It was crystal clear to us that governments have been more concerned about the revenue from mining than they are about health implications to communities close to mines or transport corridors,” Mr Cook said.

New Hope Coal is currently seeking approval by the Queensland Government for a Stage 3 expansion of the Acland mine that residents’ say will compound all the current impacts including blast tremors, noise and coal dust pollution.

Spokesperson for CAQ, Michael Kane said New Hope’s coal mining and handling methods were far from ‘best practice’. “The results prove coal stockpiles and train wagons should be covered and coal dumps should be located many kilometres from homes,” he said.

“Veneering is just a hairspray for coal and it is not working. We have shown coal dust levels are extreme. This disregard of communities on the Darling Downs or along the rail corridor to the Port of Brisbane is especially outrageous at a time the medical profession is telling us with increased urgency about the serious health impacts of coal.”

A new report “'Cleaning the Air” by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) was released this week amid calls for binding national air pollution laws3. The report confirms that air pollution in Australia is inadequately regulated, monitored and enforced, federal leadership is lacking, the states are not enforcing existing laws and as a result more than 3,000 Australians are dying of premature death every year.

John Cook said New Hope should be investigated by an independent body. “There are vulnerable families with children and the elderly living here or at Acland,” he said. “Some people are already unwell and we dread to think what extra pollution will be created if the Acland expansion is allowed.”

 For further details:

  1. Air measurements Jondaryan
  2. Clean Air Queensland Peak Pollution report
  3. Environmental Justice Australia Report

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