Sickness blamed on coal smoke
A NORTH Bundaberg man claims his health is suffering because the Millaquin Mill is burning coal and spewing pollutants into the air.
But a spokesman for the mill says it usually burns a by-product of cane that occasionally produces a dark plume instead of the white steam the chimney normally produces.
Stephen Callaghan says he sometimes wakes up in the morning with his eyes stinging from pollutants he claims the mill is producing.
“They're burning coal, and they've been doing it for a long time,” he said.
“What they've been pushing out is making people sick.”
Mr Callaghan said the mill had been there so long nearby residents thought there was nothing they could do about it.
“I live directly opposite the mill,” he said.
“I came here because I thought it was a lovely place to live.”
Mr Callaghan said he and many of his friends and neighbours were suffering from sore eyes, asthma, and nose and throat problems attributed to nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide in the air.
He said the economic benefits from reducing air pollution included savings in health expenditure and fewer sick days by employees.
Mr Callaghan said the days when there was no pollution visible from the mill were the exception rather than the norm.
Millaquin Mill manager David Pickering said the mill had been burning a small amount of coal to generate electricity recently.
However, he said the mill normally burnt bagasse, which was a by-product of cane.
“At the moment we're spending about $30 million to completely eliminate coal use,” he said.
Mr Pickering said the problem this cane season was that because of the extreme rainfalls the cane was coming in very wet and dirty.
“Because the fuel is wet it occasionally produces a dark plume,” he said.
“Within a week or so we'll be back to just white steam coming out.”