The 2012-13 National Pollutant Inventory report, published this week, has confirmed community concerns about increasing pollution from coal mining. Pollution from coal mines has increased steadily during the last ten years. Emissions of toxic pollutants including PM10 (fine particles), lead, arsenic and fluoride have increased by between 150 and 200% since the 2003-04 NPI report.
“Coal mining is the leading source of particle pollution and contributes to a range of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, especially in coal-affected regions such as the Hunter, Central Queensland and the La Trobe Valley. The latest NPI report shows that PM10 emissions from coal mining have almost trebled during the last decade and warrant urgent attention,” said Dr James Whelan, spokesperson for the NSW Nature Conservation Council.
Coal mining accounted for 380,00 tonnes of the 830,000 tonnes emitted nationally during 2012-13, a 20% increase on the coal industry’s 2011-12 report.
Non-government groups are calling for stricter regulation of air pollution. Environmental Justice Australia launched their ‘Clearing the Air’ report last week, drawing attention to the 3,000 avoidable deaths attributable to air pollution in Australia each year, and the annual $2.4 billion health bill associated with motor vehicle emissions. The report called for a national Air Pollution Control Act with provisions to prosecute polluters.
“Having access to pollution data including the latest National Pollutant Inventory helps community groups identify local polluters and put pressure on them to reduce their emissions,” said Ms Nicola Rivers for Environmental Justice Australia.
“The NPI’s alarming trends should prompt state regulators (EPAs) to action. They issue coal mines with licences to pollute and are directly responsible for protecting communities exposed to that pollution,” said Ms Rivers.
* ‘Clearing the Air’ report available here: Clearing the Air
Table: Emissions of key pollutants from coal mining, 203-04 to 2012-13
|PM10(kg)||PM2.5 (kg)||Lead & compounds (kg)||Arsenic & compounds (kg)||Flouride compounds (kg)|
|% increase over 10 years||187%||60%||165%||150%||192%|