The Hunter Community Environment Centre released the statement below on February 16.
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The Paddock to Port public forum held on February 15 in Newcastle was attended by over 150 people. They unanimously passed a resolution to reject the proposed fourth coal terminal for Newcastle.
“The meeting resolved to call on the NSW and federal governments to reject the fourth coal terminal and associated mine expansions in the Hunter on the grounds of cumulative impacts on health, biodiversity, farmland, other industries and the Hunter River,” said forum organiser, Bev Smiles.
“We are confident that people have been encouraged to become more involved in this issue by lodging submissions of objection when the project is released for public comment.”
Presentations by health and economics experts, as well as community representatives and environmental campaigners outlined the range of negative impacts caused by the coal industry.
With the fourth coal export terminal, coal transport and handling in Newcastle will rise by 230% from 143 mega tonnes a year now, to 331 mega tonnes in the future, causing increased dust, noise and other environmental and social impacts along the coal chain.
Dr Graeme Horton from Doctors for the Environment Australia outlined that 19 known cancer causing agents and pollutants, including arsenic, are generated through the extraction and transportation of coal. Pollution from coal affects all major body organ systems and is responsible for $2.6 billion in Australian health costs annually.
Matt Grudnoff from the Australia Institute pointed out that mining provides only 1.9% of employment in Australia while producing the highest profit margin of all industries. Because 83% of the mining industry is foreign owned most of the profit goes offshore.
“The fourth coal terminal will keep the Hunter locked into this dead end industry,” said Smiles.