Pages tagged "coal"

  • The toll from coal - Newcastle seeks to stop T4

    The proposal for a fourth coal terminal at Newcastle has united local residents in a joint effort to protect community and workers' health. Community members are deeply concerned about the impact of coal dust from the proposed terminal. Health experts visited the city earlier this year to talk about the danger of coal dust. Between 1984 and 2012 coal exports from Newcastle increased ten-fold from 21 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 210 Mtpa. The proposed fourth terminal (T4) would see this increase to 330 Mtpa, making Newcastle the world's largest coal port. A survey of 580 households found that fewer than 10% of residents support T4 and most are concerned about health impacts. Newcastle residents routinely wipe coal dust from every horizontal surface inside and outside their homes. T4 could also mean 100 more uncovered coal trains every day, resulting in even higher levels of particle pollution. There are currently 25,000 children attending schools within 500 metres of the coal corridor. The health and social harms of coal mining and transport are well documented. People living in coal-effected communities are more likely to suffer heart, lung and kidney cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease and birth defects. There is a direct link between long-term exposure to particle pollution and hospital admissions, emergency department attendance, asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and premature death. The fine particles associated with coal mining, coal transport and the diesel emissions from coal trains are monitored at locations throughout the Hunter Valley. During the last year, monitoring stations recorded 98 exceedances of the national standard for PM10 (particles of up to ten microns in diameter). Residents who subscribe to the EPA's air pollution alerts often receive more than one each day, especially on dry, windy days when coal dust is blown from the valley's vast open cut mines. NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has established Planning Assessment Commission to weigh up T4's merits and impacts. They must weight up the concerns raised in 500 submissions, 90% of which opposed the terminal. Commissioners will advise the Minister in early 2013. In their submission on T4, NSW Health noted that there are already exceedances of the national PM10 standard in Newcastle and that uncovered coal wagons and diesel emissions will increase particle pollution in residential areas between the mines and the port. There are also concerns about workers' health. A cancer cluster has been identified at one of Newcastle's three existing coal terminals. Between 1983 and 2006, 63 cancers including melanoma, prostate and bowel cancer were diagnosed among 859 company employees. Terminal workers are 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the average population and 2.8 times more likely than those only employed at a neighbouring terminal. The proposed terminal would also have a huge environmental impact. Increased coal exports would mean at least 15 new or expanded open-cut coalmines in the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin, resulting in destruction of forests and agricultural land, and polluted water. Burning the coal would produce more than 300 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution each year, more than every power station and every vehicle in Australia. The proposed terminal and its uncovered coal piles would displace hundreds of hectares of wetland on Kooragang Island where 117 bird species have been recorded, including at least four migratory shorebirds. Much of Kooragang Island is internationally recognised under the Ramsar Convention. The community are concerned however that these facts alone will not prevent the NSW Government approving Port Waratah Coal Services proposal, and that T4 will only be rejected through community and political pressure. The local alliance of 14 community groups is actively communicating these concerns to elected representatives but seek wider community support. Health professionals and groups can help protect the Newscastle community from the run-away impacts of the coal boom by: 1. Writing to Premier Barry O'Farrell and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard to express your concern. Click here to send an instant letter to them. 2. Donate to the Coal Terminal Action Group who are currently raising funds for air quality monitoring along the coal corridor and to place a full page ad in the Newcastle Herald. 3. Like CTAG on Facebook to receive regular updates about campaign events and developments. James Whelan, Coal Terminal Action Group

  • CAHA joins 24 hours of Climate Reality!

    In November, along with international partner Health Care Without Harm, CAHA joined 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. Broadcast live on the Internet, this event was viewed by more than 15 million people around. Health Care Without Harm founder and President Gary Cohen joined a panel Al Gore in New York to talk about the role of sustainable healthcare in addressing some of the world's climate and environmental challenges. CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong joined climate scientist Professor David Karoly, Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Don Henry, and Al Gore in conversation to discuss the impacts of climate change on human health and how we can respond. Watch the online video here. You can join CAHA on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, learn about this issue, and send us your ideas. Find out more at Health Care Without Harm's Global Climate and Health Resource Centre.

  • Stop funding climate change!

    The Climate and Health Alliance has joined with organisations and individuals around the world asking Australia state, territory and federal governments and other countries governments to stop subsidising fossil fuels. Recent estimates from the International Energy Agency suggest that over $775 billion is spent globally each year, subsidising fossil fuels. In 2009, G20 leaders pledged to phase out fossil fuels, but action has been too slow. It is estimated that fossil fuels subsidies in Australia are worth up to $12 billion each year - that's $12 billion of Australian taxpayers' money that could/should be spent on renewable energy every year. You can sign a petition here to join over one million people calling on world leaders to end taxpayer handouts to the fossil fuel industry. If want to stop climate change, we need to stop funding the cause! Take action now!   Sign a petition here to join over one million people calling on world leaders at the Earth Summit at Rio to end taxpayer handouts to the fossil fuel industry. As the poster says, if we want to stop climate change, we have to stop funding the source of the problem. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

  • Coal powered energy is a public health issue

    This article was written by Dr Helen Redmond from Doctors for the Environment Australia for Medical Observer on 21st November 2011.
    COAL is a health hazard and Australia has an addiction to it. Our state and federal governments have not acknowledged the health consequences of mining and combusting coal, although evidence for harm to human health is well documented in the scientific literature.

    Precious little research has been done in Australia despite coal communities like those in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales asking for comprehensive health studies for nearly a decade. Earlier this year an article in the MJA highlighted the health impacts of coal and summarises the available literature,1 but governments appear reluctant to find information that would slow the mining juggernaut and the flow of royalties. Coal is a health hazard because every stage in the life cycle of its production from exploration, extraction, processing, transport and combustion produces a waste stream of air and water pollutants that harm human health. Communities living around mountaintop removal coal mines in the US have a higher incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung and kidney disease, low birth weight as well as higher rates of birth defects and learning difficulties, even when results are adjusted for age, level of education and smoking status. Children are particularly vulnerable. Burning coal releases mercury, lead, chromium, carbon monoxide, fine particulates, arsenic and sulphuric acid to name just a few. Living within 30 miles (48.2 km) of a coal-fired power station increases the risk of premature death by 3“4 times compared with living at a distance from coal power stations. Coal is also a health hazard because it is the largest contributor to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. The 2009 Global Humanitarian Forum Climate Change Human Impact Report estimates climate change now claims 315,000 lives annually and severely affects 325 million people. This is only the beginning of a prolonged rise in such effects. Addiction is a disorder where short-term dependence overrides the capacity for reasoned decision-making despite damaging long-term consequences. In an individual with an addiction, their welfare and that of those close to them suffers. In the case of our addiction to coal, individual citizens and whole communities suffer while governments do not accept the responsibility of harms beyond their term of government. It is easier to take another dose of coal than the reforms necessary for withdrawal. Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal, and coal mining is expanding because 75% of it is exported. Of course all energy sources have their hidden environmental and health costs, even renewables. In an age of increasing energy hunger and increasing consequences on climate and environment, governments should be weighing up carefully the externalities for each and every energy source: coal, gas, unconventional gas, solar, solar-thermal, wind, geothermal, biomass, wave, etc. A health impact assessment should be part of any assessment for new mines and energy projects. We should understand the full economic, social and environmental consequences and health implications, both in the short and long term before deciding on any particular source of stationary or transport energy. Once the health and social costs of coal are accounted for, coal is no longer a cheap energy source. The damage arising from mining and burning coal doubles or triples the true cost of electricity generation.2 So who pays? We all do, with our current and future health. For more information, contact Doctors for the Environment Australia at: Dr Helen Redmond FAFRM (RACP) Doctors for the Environment Australia will send a poster Coal is a health hazard to 22,000 GPs across Australia tomorrow. References 1. MJA 2011; 195: 333-335\ 2. Ann NY Acad Sci 2011; 1219: 73-98