Thursday, May 25, 2017

Coalmine Health Risks – Aldershot

Posted by Jim on July 3, 2010

Briefing material
[This material may be added to]

Mr. Mark Turner, Northern Energy Corporation:
“Some people are worried about the dust causing asthma but the particular size particle that causes asthma will generally fall out (of the air) before it gets to Aldershot” Fraser Coast Chronicle, 24 June 2010

Comment by Dr. Dick van Steenis MBBS, UK expert on coal mine pollution

The position of Mr. Mark Turner of Northern Energy claiming to be the confident Mr. Fix-it is untenable because he appears totally ignorant of the laws of physics, chemistry, asthma and physiology for starters. He needs to learn that the size of particle that causes asthma is smaller than 2.5 microns, namely PM2.5, and these rise in the air and travel at least 3 miles (4.8km) with those living within 3.2km very badly at risk. That means that Aldershot will be very badly hit.

The vehicles & mining produce lots of PM1 and PM2.5 particles. At Brighton UK in 2007, four earth-moving machines produced a week average of PM1s of 253ug/m3 and of PM2.5s 163ug/m3. The “safe” level of these sizes is around 7ug/m3 and USA/Canada/Japan annual limit of PM2.5s is 15ug/m3.

Studies in Derbyshire and Gwaun-cae- Gurwen revealed 33% of children get asthma 1 mile from an opencast (proved by peakflow measurements etc). At 2 miles 21% of children developed asthma and 12% at 3 miles. These figures are consistent with spirometry of 900 children in the Hunter Valley NSW.

These fine particles produced by the vehicles by emissions and what is thrown up also cause COPD, heart attacks, depression, chronic invalidity and cancers. I attach my 4 page report and 364 references. These will reveal Mr. Turner’s belief in no “health risk” is just deception. Its not a matter of “fear of the unknown” but proven wrecking of the population’s health for financial gain.

In West Virginia USA a recent study found the health damage and premature deaths cost more than the value of the coal. I suggest sceptics travel to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales UK to see opencasting of coal at its worst. Will the company pay for all those within 3 miles to be rehoused as the solution in addressing legitimate “concerns”?? The death rate in the Hunter Valley is 37% above the average for Australia—that could easily be replicated in Queensland.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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Greens support Kin Kin residents’ objections to quarry

Posted by Jim on June 30, 2010

In 2007, Anna Bligh, then Minister for Infrastructure refused an application for the development of a $400 million tourism development in the village of Kin Kin.  Not only did she say that the project was in conflict with the SEQ regional plan, which allows for smaller tourism businesses such as farm stays and Bed and Breakfast establishments, but she also pointed out, “The region just doesn’t have the infrastrucure to support a development of this size.”

The Kin Kin district doesn’t have the infrastructure for up to 40 trucks a day carrying up to 42 tonnes of rock on the roads either.  Kin Kin is notorious for the narrow winding roads that lead to the town.  Roads in and out of Kin Kin will become a death trap.

Today I visited this quiet little corner and saw Sunshine Coast Regional Council surveyors marking out the road leading from the quarry to the Kin Kin – Wolvi Road for an upgrade.  There is nothing in the Main Roads budget for improving the roads. And, this is despite the Council and Kin Kin residents about to face each other in court.

Wahpunga Creek flows off a ridge, past the quarry, and eventually into Kin Kin Creek, which in turn flows into the Noosa River.  The Department of Environment doesn’t call this a stream!

Walpinga Creek

Wahpunga Creek: Qld Dep't of Environment & Resource Management says this is not a creek! Photo Jim McDonald

When it rains, it is quite clear from the next photograph that the stream suffers from quarry run-off.  This flows eventually through to  Kin Kin Creek and Noosa River.  This case is an example of tricksy, bureaucratic nonsense emanating from Departments whose function is to protect the environment, but whose arbitrary decisions are ultimately harmful to residents and the environment.  This is what the quarry did to the Wahpunga Creek after rain:

Wahpunga Creek with quarry run-off

Wahpunga Creek downstream from quarry after rain; clear surface water flowing from neighbour's property Photo Maree Glasby

By the way, the road being surveyed, Sheppersons Lane, is part of the Noosa Trail Network!

There are some complicated issues about the legality of the quarry, which has been a small part-time quarry for years.  But, the central issue is that accessibility issues have the seeds of tragedy in them if this small quarry is upscaled. Meanwhile, the lessee forges ahead.

Kin Kin Quarry

Drilling proceeds for expanding Kin Kin Quarry, 30 June 2010 Photo Jim McDonald

The Greens support the Kin Kin community, which has been working hard to prevent their roads being overrun by large trucks that have no place in their small hamlet.  Your Wide Bay candidate, Jim McDonald, called on the LNP Opposition spokesperson on the environment, the Hon Glen Elmes, to get moving on the issue.  This needs real action to prevent a disastrous result for Kin Kin and district residents.

Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate, Wide Bay, 30 June 2010

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Tiaro Coal Mine at Munna Creek?

Posted by Jim on June 29, 2010

Tiaro Coal Limited is focussing on the development of a coal mine at Munna Creek.

Munna Creek

Munna Creek flows into Mary River Photo Jim McDonald

Munna Creek has a catchment area of 1475 square kilometres.  There are problems with weeds infesting wetlands along its course.  But, this Mary River tributary faces its greatest threat: the development of open cut coalmines.

The Greens oppose coal mines in the Wide Bay electorate.  What’s your position, Mr Truss?

Comment: Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, 29 June 2010

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Greens fishing policy encourages a sustainable industry

Posted by Jim on June 23, 2010

There is some concern in the Wide Bay electorate about the Garrett review on fisheries in the Fraser Coast and Cooloola Coast regions.  At a forum at Tin Can Bay in April called to discuss the effects on the seafood industry, the CEO of Marine Queensland, Don Jones, spoke about sustainable industry practices.

Afterwards I wrote to tell him it was clear “that your industry organisation and The Greens have far more in common than we have differences,” and sent him a copy of The Greens’ fishing policy.  Greens policy on the industry and recreational fishing is to protect fish nursery habitat and encourage environmentally benign aquaculture industries.

There are, I told him, some useful distinctions he made that should be taken into account in the question of setting up green areas [ie no-go zones] – that we need to take a three dimensional approach to the question of access on the one hand and sustainability on the other.

What Don Jones said at the forum was quite consistent with The Greens’ policy on fishing.  The first principal of our policy is the management of recreational and commercial fisheries to maintain sustainable populations and fisheries, and to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing.  There was nothing in his remarks at the forum that was at odds with The Greens’ strategy to maintain adequate, biologically representative “no-take” areas within each fishery and/or marine bio-region for the conservation of marine biodiversity and fish stocks.

Nonetheless, The Greens position is outrageously portrayed by ratbags at the edges of the industry as anti-fishing.  The Greens policy is hardly about closing down fisheries. The industry and The Greens share a concern about significant drops in some fish stocks.

The Greens go further than the industry in linking an increase in the number of Australia’s marine reserves, particularly where these improve the resilience of vulnerable fish populations.  That’s the practical way to ensure sustainability.

But the science needs to be done and the Federal and State Governments need to patrol their respective designated areas to protect sensitive fishery resources against illegal commercial and recreational fishing.  At the same time, the Federal Government review of the need for marine parks needs to look at which areas in a reserve might be no-go areas and what regulations ought to be put in place for different systems in the environment within a marine park.  Within a particular zone it might require different approaches to pelagic fish on the surface and deep water marine species, migratory fish and fishing on reefs.  The Greens do call for a moratorium on deep-sea bottom trawling in Australian waters and require a reduction of inefficient and wasteful by-catch in all trawl fisheries.

Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has said about the review that neither the borders nor the announcement of the review of the Fraser Coast and Cooloola waters indicate which specific areas will be protected or where areas of mixed use will be allowed.

What is encouraging is that the responsible sectors of the industry, the Minister and The Greens all address the sustainability of the fishing industry.  That consensus is a better start than the irresponsible scaremongering of sections of the industry, which the the member for Wide Bay seems to be pandering to in his latest electoral report.

Comment: Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, 23 June 2010

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Coal Mining and towns don’t mix

Posted by Jim on

I refer to the announcement by Colton Coal Mine’s Managing Director, Keith Barker announcement that the mine would go ahead [“Fraser Coast Chronicle” 22 June 2010].

Residents in Maryborough would be advised to look at the experience of Singleton in the Upper Hunter Valley before they got too excited about the prospect of a mine outside the town.

The affect on children’s respiratory health in Singleton is that one in four children experience problems, almost twice the national average for respiratory problems in children of one in nine.

The affect on public health in Singleton reflects experience in mining communities overseas and there have been many research papers that have confirmed that the proximity of coal mines to a community will have an effect on public health for both adults and children.

The community at Aldershot have done their homework on this, which is why they have opposed the mine. The Colton Coal Mine will be a mere three kilometres from the town.

It is surprising that Warren Truss, the member for the Federal electorate of Wide Bay has been quiet on the issue. Large open-cut mines in remote Queensland are one matter. A two hundred metre deep mine close to cities on the Coast is another. Especially when the estimated reserves will mean many decades of mining.

When the Queensland Government considers Northern Energy Corporation’s application they will have to choose whether mining royalties are more important than the communities of Wide Bay and Maryborough. I look forward to Mr Truss’s comments on the mine.

Federal Environment Minister, Mr Peter Garrett might likewise consider the impact on the immediate environment, as he did with Traveston Dam.

Letter to Fraser Coast Chronicle: 22 June 2010, Published 28 June 2010

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Patient trips show need for real hospital reform

Posted by Jim on

The fact that Maryborough patients have to travel to Maryborough for dialysis treatment is indicative of the need for real reform of the hospital system in the Wide bay Electorate according to the Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald.

“Dialysis patients often need more than one session a week and travelling up and down the Bruce Highway for treatment is appalling, especially when patients requiring dialysis are feeling unwell.

“The neglect of health is also felt in the west of the electorate. Cancer patients in towns like Murgon and Goomeri have to take a return journey of up to 500 kilometres to Toowoomba for some cancer treatments and tests. That is not a system that is designed for patients.

“Free transport offered dialysis patients by the Queensland Minister for Health is not the central issue. Patient well-being is what it should be about and long, arduous trips for treatment or tests fail that criterion.

“Hospital and clinical resources in the whole of the Wide Bay electorate are poorly organised and it amounts to Government neglect of public patients.”

Dr McDonald said that the Rudd Government’s so-called health reforms must address the question of access to health services.

“Patients need reform rather than rhetoric. Real reform will drive an upgrade of Maryborough and Gympie hospitals to improve services across the electorate.

“Pressure on one hospital is a pressure on all the hospitals in our region. With population growth pushing up from the Sunshine Coast into Gympie, the situation will escalate.

“Communities need to have confidence that the smaller hospitals are not under any threat and expansion of services in the larger hospitals should reduce the need for trips to Brisbane except in cases of the highest medical emergency.”

“Real reform will address the present inequality of health service delivery in our region compared with the metropolitan area.

“But when Mr Rudd travelled to regional Queensland with health hand-outs, he ignored the electorate. Wide Bay is not a marginal Labor seat.

Media Release: 22 June 2010; letter published, Gympie Times, 23 June 2010

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Greens commit to referendum for local government

Posted by admin on June 18, 2010

The Australian Greens will move for an amendment to section 96 of the Constitution – the section which sets out that the Commonwealth may grant financial assistance to the states on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit – to add the words ‘and local government’.

Addressing the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly today Senator Brown said that recognising local government in the Constitution is ALP policy and was a promise made by Mr. Rudd in the 2007 election campaign.

“But there’s been no action,” said Senator Brown.

“At the start of the next period of Government, the Greens will present a bill to the Senate for this referendum.

“Previous attempts, in 1974 and 1988, to have the status of local government recognised through a referendum failed because of the confusing nature of the questions put to the Australian voters.”

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Greens say Northern Energy Corporation’s announcement to shelve Colton Coal Mine is not credible

Posted by Jim on June 4, 2010

The Greens Wide Bay candidate, Dr Jim McDonald, said today that he would believe Northern Energy Corporation had shelved the Colton Coal Mine project when there was evidence that the company had withdrawn its application for a mining licence.

He was commenting on a statement by NEC Managing Director, Keith Barker, on the ABC that the 40% super tax would make the mine non-viable.

Dr McDonald said NEC were grandstanding and attempting to hold the community to ransom.

“The company has reported up to 100 million tons of coal. That is not a marginal investment for a greenfields coalmining company.

“The fact that the Colton Coal Mine had ridden roughshod over the residents of Aldershot shows how seriously they were prepared to commence digging the mine as soon as a mining licence was granted. They glossed over the impact on the health of children living near the mine.

“They didn’t do that for a marginal investment and Mr Barker’s statement does not compute with the company’s latest ASX statement.

“NEC told the ASX in its April report of its intention to extend the resource of hard coking coal and increase the size of the mine development in parallel with the initial establishment of the open-cut mine.

“NEC is blatantly supporting Warren Truss and Tony Abbott and their opposition to the mining tax. Mr Barker has joined in a concerted, self-interested political campaign by the mining industry against the Rudd mining tax.

“The Rudd government had botched the introduction of the tax, and tripped itself up in spin, but the idea of a proper return to the Treasury on Australian resources was correct.”

Dr McDonald said that the State Government should reject the mining lease application. The best result for anyone living within 10 kilometres of the proposed mine is that it should not go ahead at all.

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Mining or farming first?

Posted by Jim on

The State Government has to make up its mind. Which is more important: top farming land or unrenewable gas wells or coal mines? If it has a germ of an idea about planning for climate change, it must come out on the side of efficient agricultural production on the best land. That is the only responsible policy direction. It is clear that gas wells and land preservation are incompatible. The performance of DERM in a number of other cases suggests that this legislation will not protect farming land. Jim McDonald Greens Candidate Wide Bay federal electorate.

Comment on story about legislative changes in Queensland Country Life, 1 June 2010

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Time to act on Mary Valley

Posted by Jim on May 31, 2010

The beautiful Mary Valley

The Mary Valley must be planned and developed as the food bowl for the region and South East Queensland. It is in the national interest that the State and federal Governments treat the future of the Mary Valley as a matter of the highest priority.

There is an opportunity that is being missed here to put in place a highly productive and sustainable food cropping zone to feed the region and export to the rest of the country and even overseas.

The Mary Valley could become a model for efficient food production and distribution by changing the inefficient supply chain practices of the large supermarkets. The primary market for Mary Valley would be the Burnett, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Wide Bay regions supplied directly from the Mary Valley, with the surplus exported to the rest of Australia and overseas.

Intensive but sustainable methods could be world class with efficient water usage and re-usage.

This is the most important climate change policy and population policy for the region. and we hear nothing from either the State or Federal Government. The necessity of acting on protecting and nurturing our best land seems to have escaped the notice of Anna Bligh and Kevin Rudd.

After prematurely acquiring a large number of properties, which it finds it can’t now [sell in its] buy back [plan], the State Government owns the most fertile land in the valley, so the essential planning should be less difficult than under other circumstances.

This is about securing food supplies in an area that has a reliable water supply and fertile land.

The Mary Valley provides the opportunity for model planning in food security. The sustainable development of food production in the Mary Valley is a national as well as a state issue and Mr Rudd and Ms Bligh are to be condemned for their failure to address the question.

Letter to the Gympie Times, published 29 May 2010

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