Group shares concern over re-emergence of black lung disease

THE Wide Bay Burnett Protection Alliance says it is gravely concerned, but not surprised, about reports of the re-emergence of the coal dust related disease, black lung in the Queensland coal mining industry.

Alliance spokesperson Vicki Perrin expressed her sympathy and support for workers affected and said the re-emergence of the disease was further reason why the proposed Colton Coal Mine near Maryborough should not proceed.

"It seems Black Lung disease may never have gone away, but instead its existence and potential affects have been hidden from coal miners," Ms Perrin said.

"The reports of Black Lung in Queensland validate our concerns that the Colton Coal mine will put the community's health, particularly those in Aldershot, at risk. The Colton mine also places at risk those who live along the rail line where the coal is proposed to be transported from Maryborough to Gladstone.

"We don't want a filthy coal mine fouling our air and water in this beautiful and productive region. That's why we've asked that when COAG Energy Council meets on December 4, that they give us and all others the legal right to say no to mining.

"You will find it very difficult to find one coal mine in Queensland that complies with safety standards for dust. It is quite typical, if dust is complained about, to monitor dust during shut downs or half production days. This is hardly honest practice, it's not fair to workers and communities exposed, and change can't come soon enough.

"We know that the Queensland coal industry has not been taking health concerns of its workers seriously. Residents who live close to coal facilities do not wear protection and live with coal dust 24 hours per day. We do not trust that innocent people in our communities are safe from the harmful effects of coal dust; there is no protection for community except to come together and resist.

"The case for stricter air pollution regulation in Australia is now stronger than ever. Coal companies will not be compliant without tough changes to laws and much bigger penalties for non-compliance."

Wide Bay Burnett Protection Alliance members said they were equally concerned about the health of hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders who live within a few kilometres of coal mines and coal stockpiles or live close to the millions of tonnes of uncovered coal that is transported every year by freight train through dozens of heavily populated towns and cities in Queensland.

According to National Pollution Inventory (NPI), a government website, the top five polluting coal mines in Australia are all in Queensland including the Goonyella, Peak Downs, Blackwater, Dawson and Saraji mines.

Ms Perrin said: "Particulate pollution from Queensland mines has grown 300 per cent over the last 10 years and the pollution from some mines has increased by 50 per cent in the past year."

Topics:  black lung coal mining health

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