Centennial Coal's plan to truck more than a million tonnes of coal per year along Wangi Road, which requires 62,500 truck movements, is a "ridiculous proposition" and would be a "disaster" waiting to happen, says Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper.
Mr Piper and scores of Lake Macquarie residents have slammed the company's proposed planning modification that would allow 20 truck movements per hour, 208 per day, between its Myuna Colliery and the Cooranbong Entry Site (CES) near Eraring Power Station.
Centennial wants to blend Myuna coal, which is not meeting standards for use at the Origin Energy-owned power station, with coal from its Mandalong pit.
Up to a million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) would be trucked from Myuna to the CES while up to 0.2 Mtpa of Mandalong coal would be trucked to Myuna. Coal would be mixed at both sites and then transferred via conveyors to the power station.
The trucking route includes Wangi Road, Wilton Road and private haul roads.
Truck movements would be limited to 7am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. Between 3pm and 4pm on weekdays, only 10 movements would be allowed to minimise traffic impacts.
The modification report on exhibition with the NSW Department of Planning says the route was selected "to avoid trucks travelling through residential areas".
"There are no residences immediately adjacent to, or with driveways on, the parts of Wangi Road and Wilton Road that are part of the transport route," it says. "The closest ... are residences on Donnelly Road, Arcadia Vale, which are approximately 80 metres from Wangi Road."
An average 6979 vehicles travel on Wangi Road each day, the report says, and the truck movements represent a "negligible increase (less than 7%) in total traffic".
All trucks leaving Myuna would be weighed, use a wheel wash before exiting and have covered loads.
Centennial says the proposal will allow it to continue to meet its "contractual obligations to supply coal to Eraring" and "secure ongoing employment for Myuna's workforce".
"We have explored a range of alternatives to trucking, including seeking the cooperation of our customer Eraring to blend coal on site at the power station, and unfortunately we have been left with no option other than pursue the current proposal," a company spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Mr Piper said he understood the need to "keep Centennial's employees in jobs" and "Eraring operating", but trucking coal would be "risky and dangerous" and a different option "had to be found".
He is particularly concerned with trucks coming out of Wangi Point Road onto Wangi Road, as the intersection is halfway down a hill and the trucks would be turning into a 90 km/h zone without a merging lane.
He "strongly" disagrees with an assertion in the application that "no widening or improvement works are required on Wangi Road".
"I understand Centennial's needs because ... the coal they've been winning has been reducing, and I understand Origin don't want to take coal that is higher in ash because it causes them problems.
"But to transfer their problem onto the public road ... this is just a ridiculous proposition that is going to put a lot of people at risk.
"Heavy trucks ... should not be mixing in great numbers with the volume of traffic that is on that road.
"The increased risk of a disaster is clearly there. It's just not acceptable in 2020 to be done that way, particularly when there is a conveyor that goes directly to Origin.
"I know they're different companies, but surely we can work this out without putting this impost onto the public road network."
Coal from Myuna is currently transported to Eraring by an overland conveyor. Low-quality coal is held at the pit top until it can be mixed with better product. However, coal quality has become increasingly poorer.
Centennial considered, but ruled out, alternative options to transport the coal.
Installing a "beneficiation" plant at Myuna to improve the quality of coal before it is sent to Eraring via the conveyor was "discounted" due to the "high capital costs", "potential for increased noise" and "ongoing management of reject material".
Sending all of Myuna's coal via conveyor and blending it at Eraring "does not align with Origin's preferred coal delivery strategy".
Centennial introduced the proposal to the DPIE in May, as well as Lake Macquarie council and Transport for NSW.
It then wrote to its Myuna, Newstan/Awaba and Mandalong community consultation committees in June, but two of the groups are yet to meet and none have provided feedback.
The modification's exhibition was due to end on Thursday, but Mr Piper said the Planning Minister had extended it until August 27.
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