MEDIA RELEASE for August 11, 2017
Coal is a dangerous toxic pollutant best left in the ground
Peak environment group Queensland Conservation Council has pointed to recent instances of coal-related pollution incidents as evidence that coal should be treated as a dangerous toxic product that risks the health of humans, natural environments and the climate.
The Queensland government is reportedly considering the option of closing down four Queensland coal mines because of dust impacts on workers. This comes after the formal re-emergence of ‘black lung disease’ brought about by miners’ exposure to coal dust.
News is also breaking this morning that the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has imposed a miniscule fine on Adani Coal Holdings for an unauthorised release of water from the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, that was eight times over the additional limit that was temporarily granted to the company. It is unclear just how much coal particulate was in the released water, and a separate investigation into similar water that was released into the Caley Valley Wetlands is continuing. It is expected to show a heightened level of pollution.
The pollution created through the transporting and burning of coal and other fossil fuels is also under increasing scrutiny, especially in terms of the release of greenhouse gases that is accelerating global warming.
“The simple fact is that coal is a dangerous toxic pollutant best left where it is in the ground”, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.
“We should be treating coal in the same way we now treat asbestos. Once seen as an important mineral and valuable product, we now know asbestos is toxic and a killer.
“Coal is no different. Far from being the saviour of the economy and humanity, coal is destroying people’s lives, threatening our marine and other natural environments, and is fuelling climate change.
“Wherever it is mined, transported, stored or burnt, it creates pollution that should no longer be accepted by the community.
“Queensland needs to wean itself off its coal dependency - the current ‘economic drug of choice’ - and instead embrace renewables and sustainable job opportunities to achieve rehabilitation, recovery and long-term economic health and wellbeing.
“In the meantime, when coal companies are found to be in breach of regulations, mining conditions or temporary licences, they should have the book thrown at them.
“We are still waiting on a full explanation for why there were such huge water releases from the Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal facility, what was in the water and where it went.
“But a puny $12,000 fine is a joke. That would not even cover the cost of the water testing, which the taxpayer has had to cover. That sends the wrong message to polluters.”
For further comment contact:
Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183