Communities are sick of coal: Greenpeace welcomes PM’s attention to impacts of coal dust

Feature Story - 8 August, 2012
Thursday 9 August 2012: Greenpeace has welcomed comments by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Newcastle yesterday acknowledging the growing concern in coal-affected communities about the impact of coal dust on human health and is calling for a halt to new mines, rail and ports relating to coal while comprehensive studies have been carried out.

On a short visit to Newcastle yesterday, the Prime Minister was asked about whether she supported a campaign by the Newcastle Herald to make coal companies cover coal wagons to prevent small particulates escaping as trains go through the city to the coal export terminals there.

She is quoted in today’s Newcastle Herald saying that, “From my point of view, we need the science and all of the information about the impacts for community members and for their health.”

Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner, Georgina Woods said, “Despite major concerns about health problems – particularly respiratory illness – caused by coal dust, insufficient research has been carried out in this field. With a doubling of the already high number of coal wagons passing through the heavily populated Newcastle area and port expansions up and down the coast, this is a shocking oversight. It’s essential that governments require health studies as part of the assessment process for new mines, railways and port infrastructure and none should be approved without such measures in place. People’s health should come first.”

 “There are unprecedented expansion proposals in the pipeline for Queensland coal as well, with plans to more than double the current quantities of coal sent to the coast by rail and exported from new coal terminals through the Great Barrier Reef,” said Woods.

“Communities in central and coastal Queensland, in Brisbane, in the Liverpool Plains, the Hunter and Newcastle are asking questions about the price they’re being asked to pay for coal mining and exports. At this point, we don’t even know how sick coal is making these communities.”

For media interviews contact:

Greenpeace Media Officer, Rosie Jones, 0407 284 916,

Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner, Georgina Woods, 0437 405 932,