Global studies indicate ingesting fine particles like those in coal dust could lead to increased health risks including stroke, heart attack, lung cancer and respiratory problems.
Despite this, every year 3,500 uncovered coal trains carrying nine million tonnes of coal, rumble through Brisbane on their way to the port near Wynnum, spewing coal dust throughout the suburbs.
The State Government plans to expand this amount of coal to up to 20 million tonnes a year with the expansion of the Acland coal mine, near Toowoomba and the many other mines planned in south-east Queensland.
The trains’ filthy cargo is unloaded at the Port of Brisbane, adding to huge stockpiles of coal that spread dust for kilometres.
Clean Air Queensland (CAQ) is holding a free community health forum at Dutton Park on Thursday to discuss the health impacts from coal dust on the community. Speakers will include Dr David King of Doctors for the Environment.
CAQ spokesman, Michael Kane said he expects South Brisbane will join the other suburbs of Wynnum, Morningside and Corinda in declaring themselves ‘coal dust free’.
“Uncovered coal trains and stockpiles release significant amounts of particulate pollution into the air and there is no safe level of exposure to particulate pollution,” Mr Kane said.
“As the amount of coal dust in the air increases, so will the health impacts.”
A Federal Government inquiry has recommended tighter regulations, better health assessments and that all coal trains be covered. The State Government, despite a pre-election commitment to the contrary, is allowing the expansion of Acland mine Stage 3 that will see another 2.7 million tonnes of coal transported through Brisbane annually.
SOUTH BRISBANE HEALTH FORUM ON COAL DUST
When: Thursday, July 17 from 7pm to 8.15 pm
What: Community health forum on coal dust pollution
Where: Dutton Park State School hall, 112 Annerley Rd, Dutton Park
Who: Doctors for the Environment – Dr David King; Clean Air Queensland – Michael Kane
Quote from Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman: “…I think there’s a time in the not too distant future where the community will be right to start to demand the wagons are closed.” ABC radio, November 20, 2012