EPA train dust report sparks up campaign to cover coal wagons


Hunter community groups have renewed their calls for the introduction of covered coal wagons following the release of the latest government report into particle pollution associated with trains.

The Environment Protection Authority issued on Thursday the final stage of a three-year study that sought to identify the impact of coal trains on air quality.

The study concluded that particle pollution associated with passing trains was more likely to be caused by dust on the tracks being stirred up rather than from a particular type of train, or trains with diesel engines.

Environmental Justice Australia researcher James Whelan said the study, which was criticised for its statistical analysis, had failed to provide a definitive answer to the vexed question of how much particle pollution was caused by uncovered coal wagons.

‘‘Around the world, coal wagons are covered and washed to control dust emissions,’’ Dr Whelan said.

‘‘That measure should be implemented in the Hunter as a matter of urgency.’’

Correct Planning and Consultation for Mayfield spokesman John Hayes said residents living near the Hunter’s coal corridor lived with the practical effects of coal train particle pollution on a daily basis.

‘‘Covering and washing coal wagons is recognised as best practice and there is no independent evidence that veneering achieves anywhere near the emission reduction achieved with covers.’’

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Mary O’Kane is presently examining the impacts of coal train pollution in the Hunter.

The review is examining existing scientific literature, measurement, prevention and management practices and advances in technology for sampling and monitoring air quality along the rail corridor.

The review has also called for public submissions.

People wishing to provide a submission addressing the terms of reference should email: coaltrains.review@chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au.


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