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PUBLIC health specialists have labelled the $5 billion fourth coal terminal proposed for Kooragang Island a ‘‘significant threat’’ and called for a more thorough assessment of dust and noise effects on residents.
In a joint submission to the NSW Department of Planning, Nick Higginbotham, Ben Ewald, Graeme Horton, John Hall, Abul Hasnat Milton and Mark McEvoy, all with the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, said air quality modelling done for the ‘‘T4’’ proposal made ‘‘unsafe assumptions’’.
It was among five flaws they identified with the project’s environmental assessment report, which is on public exhibition.
‘‘T4 will not burn coal but the noise and dust from it will contribute to an unhealthy environment that will lead to people getting sick,’’ Associate Professor Higginbotham said.
The Port Waratah Coal Services project is needed to meet the demands of the booming coal industry, and entails coal-loading berths on the north and south sides of the Hunter River near the Tourle Street bridge.
It would boost the Port of Newcastle’s annual coal export capacity by 120 million tonnes, adding to the terminals at Kooragang Island and Carrington.
The six health professionals, whose views do not represent their employers, said the assessment did not consider projections of more extreme heat days that would exacerbate dust levels escaping from the site, and assumed dust suppression practices would be followed without fail.
It ‘‘underestimates significantly’’ what actual pollution levels would be from new developments earmarked for Kooragang Island, including the planned expansion of Orica.
‘‘It is therefore difficult for us as well as many community members to place trust in the information on projected pollution levels promised by these operators,’’ the submission said.
The T4 environmental assessment ‘‘downplays the significant adverse health risks from fugitive dust emissions’’, diesel engine exhaust and noise from the sharp increase in rail movements the project would create.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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