The 2012-13 National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) report published this week confirms community concerns about increasing pollution from coal mining.
The latest NPI figures show emissions of toxic pollutants, including PM10 (fine particles), lead, arsenic and fluoride, have increased by between 150 per cent and 200 per cent in the ten years since 2003–04.
‘Coal mining is the leading source of particle pollution and contributes to a range of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, especially in coal-affected regions such as the Hunter, Central Queensland and the La Trobe Valley,’ said Nature Conservation Council spokesperson Dr James Whelan.
‘The latest NPI report shows that PM10 emissions from coal mining have almost trebled during the past decade and warrant urgent attention.’
The NPI figures show that coal mining accounted for 380,000 tonnes of the 830,000 tonnes emitted nationally during 2012-13, a 20 per cent increase on 2011-12.
The NSW Nature Conservation Council, Australian Conservation Foundation, Lock the Gate Alliance, and Environmental Justice Australia are calling for stricter regulation of air pollution.
Environmental Justice Australia reported last week that there were 3,000 avoidable deaths attributable to air pollution in Australia each year, and that the annual health bill associated with motor vehicle emissions was $2.4 billion.
The report called for a national Air Pollution Control Act with strong provisions to prosecute polluters.
‘Having access to pollution data, including the latest National Pollutant Inventory, helps community groups identify local polluters and pressure them to reduce their emissions,’ said Nicola Rivers for Environmental Justice Australia.
‘The NPI’s alarming trends should prompt state regulators to take action. They issue coal mines with licences to pollute and are directly responsible for protecting communities exposed to that pollution.’