Media release

Air pollution in South East Queensland triggers public meeting; calls for expanded monitoring network and data access

February 19, 2016

Residents, health experts, lawyers and community groups will meet in Brisbane next Monday to discuss air pollution concerns and solutions.

The public meeting has been convened following a trebling of particle pollution from coal mining during the last 10 years and calls for an expansion of Queensland’s air pollution monitoring network.

“There is no EPA monitoring in the entire Central Queensland coalfields – a region of more than one million square kilometres that contains thirteen of Australia’s twenty most polluting coal mines,” said Environmental Justice Australia researcher James Whelan.

“There are EPA air pollution monitoring stations in 28 locations throughout Queensland,” said Dr Whelan, “But concerned residents and health experts have very limited access to EPA monitoring data and almost no access to data collected by polluting industries.”

The community campaign for independent air pollution monitoring in Queensland’s coalfields received support last month from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Queensland Resource Council. In the Hunter region, residents living near coal mines have instant access to monitoring data from a network of 14 EPA monitoring stations.

“Queensland current system of air pollution laws and regulations is failing to ensure healthy air,” said Ms Revel Pointon, lawyer with the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland. “Having endorsed new national air pollution standards in December, Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles has a responsibility to ensure these standards are met in the most polluted parts of the state.”

“EJA is watching all state and territory governments carefully on the implementation of the new Clean Air Agreement, also endorsed by Minister Miles in December. We are expecting to see a full review of pollution licences, a major upgrade in air pollution monitoring and data access, and some effective new measures to reduce air pollution in Australia’s air pollution hotspots,” said EJA Clean Air Lawyer, Phil Hill.

Other speakers at the meeting include Dr David King of Doctors for the Environment Australia who will speak about the health impacts of particle pollution and Mr Paul Stephenson, who lives close to the Baralaba coal load-out facility in Central Queensland.

Brisbane suburbs including Woolloongabba, Cannon Hill and Wynnum have recorded particle pollution concentrations well above the national standard endorsed by Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles in December.

Meeting details: 6pm Monday 22 February, Wandering Cooks, 1 Fish Lane, South Brisbane.

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