Coal train claims and others tested for EPA inquiry
A NSW Legislative Assembly will look into accusations that the state’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) covered up the extent of coal dust pollution.
The inquiry will examine the EPA’s investigations on the effects of coal dust pollution in the Hunter Valley, after it was launched by NSW Opposition leader and shadow minister for Environment and Climate Change Luke Foley.
Mr Foley has previously referred the Independent Commission Against Corruption to complaints of the cover-up of information about coal dust pollution in the Hunter Valley coal corridor.
The new terms of reference include checks of all previous complaints.
These include land contamination issues at Botany and Hillsdale, the EPA’s findings over ground water contamination from CSG exploration by Santos, its prosecution of Du Pont for alleged land pollution at Girraween, regulation of Balmain’s cruise ship docks, and forestry practices in Royal Camp State Forest.
Hunter Community Environment Centre spokesman Dr John MacKenzie told industry press Mining Australia that the inquiry is a “small but long overdue victory”.
This inquiry is also vital for restoring community confidence in the EPA, given that its performance in recent years has fallen well shy of community expectations, especially on coal dust pollution,” he said.
“We are hopeful that the inquiry will improve the EPA’s ability to be a strong and effective environmental regulator.
“This inquiry is also vital for restoring community confidence in the EPA, given that its performance in recent years has fallen well shy of community expectations.”
MacKenzie says there is no doubt over the link between particulate pollution from trains and coal spiles and health problems..
“Residents, environmentalists and the coal industry all agree on this,” he said.
“It is only the NSW EPA that has been standing in the way of air pollution regulation that would improve community health.
The newly-formed General Purpose Standing Committee No.5 will report back by February 14, 2015.