A COALITION of community groups has urged the coal industry to withdraw funding for a NSW Minerals Council-commissioned pollution reduction study.
The Coal Terminal Action Group has labelled the project, which is investigating how to best reduce coal train dust pollution, as an expensive public relations stunt.
“A valid study into options to minimise particle pollution from coal wagons would assess a range of options including accepted best practice and would involve independent expert oversight and review,” group spokesman George Barnes said.
The study is using wind tunnel testing on miniature coal wagons. A range of Hunter Valley coal types are being exposed to worst-case wind conditions. It is also testing whether applying water or polymer veneers would help reduce coal dust emissions.
The group’s 11 criticisms of the wind tunnel study include the lack of a standard wagon design meaning aerodynamics will vary. Also, the wind tunnel will not model the impact of passing trains.
About 4million uncovered coal wagons pass through Mayfield and other Newcastle suburbs each year.
The group is among several that have called for the introduction of fully covered coal wagons.
“Particle pollution is an urgent public health problem that warrants a swift regulatory response,” Mr Barnes said. “Minerals Council chief Stephen Galilee cannot expect public or political support for an industry-funded study that has no independent expert scrutiny and rules out assessing the solution that’s established as best practice.”
Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said the group’s criticism was hypocritical.
‘‘CTAG initially welcomed this important research project but have now changed their position, confirming that their true agenda is to run a political campaign against the jobs of 12,000 coalminers in the Hunter,’’ he said