With particle pollution from coal mines trebling over a decade, environmental campaigners argue government regulations to improve air quality are failing.
The state’s Dust Stop Pollution Reduction Program is not working says Bev Smiles, Hunter Environment Lobby (HEL).
“We need stronger regulations for the mining industry and to fast track the closure of coal fired power stations,” she said.
“At the same time we need to develop a fair transition for regional economies like the Hunter to ensure a future based on diversified industries.”
This week using figures based on the National Pollutant Inventory Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) say AGL’s Bayswater power station reported a 770 per cent increase in coarse particle PM10 pollution over the last five years.
EJA state in their report coal mining is Australia’s second largest source of PM10 pollution.
“Despite the NSW Government promising its Dust Stop program would ensure ‘international best practice’ control of dangerous particle pollution, coal dust emissions continue to increase,” says James Whelan, researcher EJA.
“The health damage caused by air pollution costs Australians between $11-$24.3 billion per annum, yet governments continue to allow polluters to poison communities”
Ms Smiles is calling for a moratorium on continual mine expansions in particular she is concerned by a spate of mine ‘modifications’.
“Not a week goes by in the Hunter without another mining company proposing to modify their mine which really is an expansion plan by another name,” she said.
“Enough is enough given the cost to local communities not only in terms of their health but also the loss of farming land and once vibrant villages.”
According to Ms Smiles many people would be unaware of the fact that Liddell power station also now owned by AGL, was the site of Australia’s first solar thermal pilot.
“It would be fabulous if AGL converted Liddell to solar thermal – no air pollution and a reliable baseload source of power,” she said.
The Dust Stop program is not working.