Saturday, November 30, 2019

We need a Royal Commission into Lack of State Pollution Control

Bayswater Power Station, Hunter Valley

Bayswater and Liddel Power Stations, Hunter Valley

Coal mines and coal fired power stations, Hunter Valley
We are dying in the Upper Hunter from the toxic air we breathe and the process is being comprehensively monitored by the New South Wales Government.
Yet what is the government actually doing about it apart from collecting data and sending out endless air quality alerts informing us that PM10 and PM2.5 levels for Aberdeen, Merriwa, Muswellbrook and Singleton have exceeded national air quality standards?
From what I have observed, absolutely nothing, apart from additionally giving us advice about ‘staying indoors’.
And all our local member (aka Michael Johnsen MP) has to say on the topic (and he was an apology for Tuesday night’s air quality meeting hosted by Friends of the Upper Hunter in Muswellbrook with the EPA in attendance) is that there are many “unsubstantiated claims out there” and that the government “wants everyone to be healthy” and that “this is not a political issue, it’s a weather issue.”
Despite his uninformed opinion, everyone who actually did turn up to last Tuesday night’s meeting, and that included Dr Richard Abbott from Doctors for the Environment Australia, Kirsty O’Connell from Friends of the Upper Hunter, Adam Gillegan from the EPA and approximately 50 worried community members from across the Upper Hunter, all fully accepted that air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. 

Moreover, they all fully accepted that there is no safe level of pollution and that if we stopped emissions from coal fired power stations and coal mines, our health would immediately improve with fewer deaths, fewer incidences of cardiovascular disease, fewer low birth weight babies, fewer premature babies and fewer new cases of diabetes.
They also all fully appreciated that even though the law says that prescribed standards of air impurities are not to be exceeded, the standards are routinely exceeded, and no polluter is ever satisfactorily prosecuted.
Hence why I now think that there is nothing else for it but to hold a ‘Royal Commission into Lack of State Pollution Control.’
We cannot keep on dying with the NSW Government watching on doing nothing.
We need protection – enough is enough.