Hunter Valley inspires Blue Mountains coal dust campaign

Community concern: Coal trains at Tighes Hill.
Community concern: Coal trains at Tighes Hill.

A community campaign to reduce particulate pollution along the Hunter’s coal rail corridor by covering coal wagons has taken root in the Blue Mountains. 

The Blue Mountains Unions and Community Group is seeking data about the impact of particulate pollution coming from the 16 coal trains, each with an average of 45 wagons, that pass through the mountains each week. . 

“A lot of people are flabbergasted when they find out how many trains pass through our community,” group spokesman spokesman Peter Lammiman said. 

 “We have had lot of support from people who have been working on this issue in the Hunter.”

Hunter-based environment groups have been pushing for the introduction of covered coal wagons in the region since 2012. 

A 2013 Senate inquiry into coal dust pollution recommended the covers should be mandatory, however, the NSW Chief Scientist found in 2016 that more research was needed into the issue. 

 Environmental Justice Australia researcher Dr James Whelan said an increasing number of communities around the world were concerned about the impact of coal particulate pollution. 

“It is an issue that has refused to lie down,” Dr Whelan said. 

“I’m confident there will be a breakthrough. The coal industry is going to be with us for some time yet and community expectations are increasing.”

A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman confirmed the authority was working with the Blue Mountains Unions and Community Group to investigate air quality monitoring in the area. 

“Specific details are still to be determined,” she said.