Coal mining pollution has doubled in a decade

MEDIA RELEASE

Coal mining pollution has doubled in a decade: National Pollutant Inventory reveals massive increases in particle pollution, lead, arsenic and other pollutants

Embargo to Wednesday 28 May 2014

The 2012-13 National Pollutant Inventory report, published this week, has confirmed community concerns about increasing pollution from coal mining. Pollution from coal mines has increased steadily during the last ten years. Emissions of toxic pollutants including PM10 (fine particles), lead, arsenic and fluoride have increased by between 150 and 200% since the 2003-04 NPI report.

“Coal mining is the leading source of particle pollution and contributes to a range of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, especially in coal-affected regions such as the Hunter, Central Queensland and the La Trobe Valley. The latest NPI report shows that PM10 emissions from coal mining have almost trebled during the last decade and warrant urgent attention,” said Dr James Whelan, spokesperson for the NSW Nature Conservation Council.

Coal mining accounted for 380,00 tonnes of the 830,000 tonnes emitted nationally during 2012-13, a 20% increase on the coal industry’s 2011-12 report.

Non-government groups are calling for stricter regulation of air pollution. Environmental Justice Australia launched their ‘Clearing the Air’ report last week, drawing attention to the 3,000 avoidable deaths attributable to air pollution in Australia each year, and the annual $2.4 billion health bill associated with motor vehicle emissions. The report called for a national Air Pollution Control Act with provisions to prosecute polluters.

“Having access to pollution data including the latest National Pollutant Inventory helps community groups identify local polluters and put pressure on them to reduce their emissions,” said Ms Nicola Rivers for Environmental Justice Australia.

“The NPI’s alarming trends should prompt state regulators (EPAs) to action. They issue coal mines with licences to pollute and are directly responsible for protecting communities exposed to that pollution,” said Ms Rivers.

* ‘Clearing the Air’ report available here: Clearing the Air

For comment:

National: Nicola Rivers, Environmental Justice Australia 03 8341 3100 or Victoria Mackenzie-McHarg 0428 480 409

New South Wales: Dr James Whelan, Nature Conservation Council of NSW 0431 150 928

Victoria: Dr Nick Aberle, Environment Victoria 0402 512 121

Queensland: Michael Kane, Lock the Gate Alliance 0438 766 230

Table: Emissions of key pollutants from coal mining, 203-04 to 2012-13

  PM10(kg)        PM2.5 (kg)    Lead & compounds (kg) Arsenic & compounds (kg) Flouride compounds (kg)
2003-04 134,080,437   5,797 1,778 118,773
2004-05 170,586,571   6,278 2,001 157,213
2005-06 183,972,663   7,752 2,322 133,678
2006-07 196,845,307   8,278 4,460 155,676
2007-08 211,630,747 4,616,727 10,698 4,004 211,455
2008-09 209,800,738 5,075,183 11,144 3,042 201,596
2009-10 216,810,138 5,465,434 9,429 2,826 194,288
2010-11 289,907,919 5,292,775 11,999 3,705 243,493
2011-12 326,837,137 7,700,489 13,633 4,000 343,242
2012-13 384,874,768 7,385,250 15,384 4,453 346,687
% increase over 10 years 187% 60% 165% 150% 192%

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