Don’t breathe the air

The once-rural Hunter Valley baked in the early February heatwave, but not under blue skies. The many and expanding open cut coal mines in Singleton and Muswellbrook Shires made sure of that. This was what the air quality looked like on Friday 4th February.

On the Tuesday before, the 1st February, the averaged PM 10 reading was ‘very poor’, exceeding national health standards where ‘people with heart or lung disease should limit exercising outdoors’.

We are told that local dust emissions could be reduced by half if best practice particulate emissions controls were put in place, and if there was ‘a substantial increase in the area of land rehabilitated each year and the application of suppressant to haul roads’.

Given the known health issues from dust particulates, why don’t they do this already? It would cost money, cut into profits.

Why aren’t they told to do it or shut up shop?

Surely not because it would displease donors, cut into royalties?

A friend sent this snap, taken from the road, of dust rising from the massive Mt Arthur mine at Muswellbrook, about two weeks ago. A common enough sight to those who live in the two shires, when passing any of the mines.

And yet the state government has just issued its NSW Coal and Gas Scoping Paper, where the scary assumptions are made that, rather than agree that these shires are over-saturated with mines and dust and power station emissions– they will get more.

‘The intensification of mining in the area between Singleton and Muswellbrook will require the careful management of potential cumulative impacts in an area that already accommodates substantial coal mining activity.’

The words say it all about the disconnect from the dangerous and dirty reality: ‘potential’? ‘accommodates’? ‘substantial’?

So we are not to worry, because it will be ‘managed’ as it is now, no doubt under equally strict consent conditions as now, since, as we are always told, the mining industry is the most highly regulated of all.

Comments are invited from the public until 15th April. Please have a read of what I consider an offensive draft blueprint for a coal-trashed future for NSW — it’s not very long — and let them know what you think!

Download it here: Coal and Gas Scoping Paper