RESIDENTS of Wollongong are open to health risks from coal dust by the transport of open-topped coal trains through their neighbourhoods says the Greens.
The Illawarra Greens have called for the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to test the air quality for particulate matter near railway lines.
The EPA are undertaking a test in the Hunter where MPs and the local media in Newcastle have called for coal trains to be covered in their area.
Coal trains travelling through Wollongong are also uncovered, posing a risk to the health of local residents, says the Greens.
Greens Wollongong Councillor Jill Merrin said there is growing community support in the Hunter, led by a campaign by the Newcastle Herald, to require all coal trains to be covered.
“We now know that the fine dust particles from coal have the potential to cause serious lung diseases,” Cr Merrin said.
“People who live anywhere near a train line in Wollongong know about the constant black dust they have to wash off their houses. That sam dust is lining their lungs and the lungs of their children,” she said.
“The EPA have been testing the air quality for particulate matter near railway lines in the Hunter. We want to see the same level of care and concern by the EPA and have air quality tested along Wollongong’s train corridors.”
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has written to NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker asking her to direct the EPA to require all coal wagons to be covered. She points to an uncompleted part of the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) licence which requires a plan to reduce coal dust.
Cr Merrin said trucks which transport coal are currently required to have their loads covered, so the same standards should be applied to coal trains.
“The people of Wollongong have suffered enough from industrial and mining pollution. It is time the State Government imposed the same pollution control standards for coal transport, whether it’s by road or rail.”