New report claims coal mining a public health burden

Findings from a report documenting the impacts of coal mining on public health will be presented in Muswellbrook and Singleton over the next two days.

The report entitled, Coal and Health in the Hunter: lessons from one valley for the world, has been released by the not-for-profit group Climate and Health Alliance.

NEW REPORT: Coal-fired power stations, Bayswater and Liddell, in the Upper Hunter.

NEW REPORT: Coal-fired power stations, Bayswater and Liddell, in the Upper Hunter.

The report claims coal is becoming an unwelcome social and economic burden, and poses a serious risk to the health of the communities that live near open-cut coal mines.

Lead author, Fiona Armstrong, said there are currently 31 coal mining sites in the Hunter Valley and five coal-fired power stations, with another 21 additional projects on the drawing board.

Citing figures from the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, the report claims existing mines currently produce 145 million tonnes of coal annually.

The report makes special mention of Muswellbrook and Singleton, claiming the annual burden of health damages associated with exposure to fine dust particles (PM2.5) emitted by coal mines is estimated at $47 million in Singleton and $18.3 million in Muswellbrook

The Hunter Valley News contacted the NSW Minerals Council for its response.

CEO Stephen Galilee said there is no evidence to support the claims made in this report, which he said fails to take an evidence-based approach to health issues in the region.

Mr Galilee said NSW air quality standards are among the highest in the world and are generally met, including in the Hunter.

He added that CSIRO research has shown that wood smoke is the biggest contributor to fine particle pollution in the Upper Hunter.

The lead author, Fiona Armstrong, and senior economist at Economists at Large, Francis Grey, will speak to the report in the Ron Adams Room at the Muswellbrook Workers Club from 6pm on Wednesday evening.

Associate Professor Peter Sainsbury, from the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, and John Drynan, from the Singleton Healthy Environment Group, will address issues contained in the report at the Singleton Diggers in York Street from 6pm on Thursday night.

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