By Rachel Dally-Watkins
20 May, 2015
A coal dust report by Clean Air Queensland has been heavily criticised by the Queensland Resources Council for being “deeply flawed and misleading”.
The Health Hazard in our Suburbs study claimed that air quality monitoring showed “alarming” rates of pollution in Brisbane due to dust from coal trains travelling to the port, with coal train pollution readings of 900 per cent above normal levels.
Clean Air Queensland is a coalition of community groups and individual anti-coal activist groups, including Lock the Gate Alliance, Oakey Coal Action Alliance, Friends of the Earth Brisbane and Parent’s Against Coal Dust.
Clean Air Queensland spokesman Michael Kane urged the state government to take the report seriously.
“We need a commitment to cover the coal trains and stockpiles and to ensure no further projects or coal mine expansions are approved in south-east Queensland until full health impact assessments have been completed,” Mr Kane said.
However, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the study was unlikely to stand up to peer review.
Not enough monitoring sessions were undertaken as part of the study, and the method used was not consistent with the Australian air quality standards, according to Mr Roche.
“It’s also telling that they ignored some results from coal, freight and passenger trains that passed during the monitoring period. One would have to wonder why,” he said.
“In addition, the study included no wind direction monitoring, which means they would have no way of knowing the origins of the dust measured.
“More than two years’ worth of data from industry-funded monitoring, using methods consistent with the National Air Quality Standards, is in the public domain.
“I would urge people interested in learning more about air quality along the corridor to visit the Queensland Government’s air quality website where the results of the independent monitoring are reported in near real time.”
Mr Roche said the state’s coal industry had nothing to hide.
“…since the start of continuous monitoring, the only instances where recorded air quality was above the national standards were independently found to be unconnected to coal-dust emissions, and usually a result of either bushfires, dust storms or track and road maintenance,” he said.
“I would urge the Queensland Government to see this report for what it is – just another attack by anti-coal activists on our coal sector, which in 2013 2014 directly employed more than 26,000 people full time, spent more than $15 billion in the state and contributed almost $2 billion in royalties to the government.”