Almost seven years have passed since the Rainbow Warrior visited Newcastle on the NSW Central Coast.

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Feature Story - 12 March, 2013
Since then, coal shipments passing out of Newcastle’s harbour between Nobby’s Head and Stockton break wall have risen higher and higher. For too long local residents have been suffering the consequences of the growing coal shipments.
Rainbow Warrior in Newcastlle©Greenpeace / Richard Green

Coal dust particles fill the air and noise pollution is on the rise.

Despite health concerns raised by local residents, coal companies are charging ahead to make annual exports even bigger. The port of Newcastle is already exporting 165 million tonnes of coal per annum, yet the proposed “T4” Kooragang Island coal terminal could see exports skyrocket.

With coal mines creeping nearer to rural villages, health impacts are coming closer too.

The effects of coal dust are well known to residents of the Hunter Valley, where there are several towns that are bordered on two or three sides by open-cut mines. The NSW Department of Health itself wrote a submission opposing the South East Open Cut because of the effect it was likely to have on the residents of the village of Camberwell.

This is why local communities from across the Hunter region are organising and speaking out against T4 and new mine proposals for the health of their children and the future of rural industries.

Even if you make just a short visit to Newcastle, you’ll see local residents hard at work building support for the movement to stop T4. Local groups have been door-knocking in the affected areas, billboards and newspaper advertisements have been placed, corflutes adorn street light poles, and letters flood local newspapers opposing the new coal terminal and calling for proper Government oversight of the coal industry’s plans.

Their main concern is that severe health risks have been overlooked in the Government assessment processes. Residents groups, environment organisations and concerned local citizens have pulled together under the banner of the Coal Terminal Action Group to fund and analyse pollution monitoring equipment and analyse the collected data. The results were released last week, and were startling: even without a new coal terminal, levels of dangerous particulate pollution in the suburbs near the coal terminal are higher than the national standard. Particulate pollution is often enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, causing serious health problems, especially for adults with existing heart and lung diseases.

Rainbow Warrior in Newcastlle©Greenpeace / Richard Green

The Hunter region has come a long way since the last time the Rainbow Warrior visited in 2005. When it returns on 26-28 March 2013, it will be greeted by hundreds of people actively defending their communities against the damage inflicted by coal.

Ahead of the Warrior's visit, there will be a rally in Newcastle against the coal terminal on 16 March. Join people from Sydney, the Liverpool Plains, the Hunter Valley and the mid-north coast in Newcastle marching against the T4 coal terminal from 10am on 16 March 2013.

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