DUST MENACE: Coal dust pollution is causing health concerns, but it is intended that all coal shipped in wagons veneered by the end of the year.
DUST MENACE: Coal dust pollution is causing health concerns, but it is intended that all coal shipped in wagons veneered by the end of the year. Sarah Harvey

The coal hard facts revealed

A SENATE inquiry into health hazards around coal dust found wagons transporting the fossil fuel should be covered and air quality closely monitored.

The inquiry concluded there are no safe levels of exposure to coal dust particles.

The inquiry was formed after the rising issue of coal dust pollution along train lines in the western corridor through to the Port of Brisbane.

The findings were not surprising for Queensland Resources Council chairman Michael Roche.

He said the committee chairing the inquiry did not give the serious subject the treatment it deserved.

"It comes as no surprise the report targets the coal industry, but that a side, the issue of coal dust is one we do take seriously," he said.

Stop Brisbane Coal Trains spokesman John Gordon welcomed the findings. He said the acknowledgement by health professionals could not be ignored.

"The inquiry took submissions and advice from distinguished Health and Air experts. Coal dust emissions from trains are hazardous. Period. There is no safe level of exposure," he said.

Mr Roche said the coal industry intended to have all coal wagons covered through veneering by the end of the year.

He said an air-monitoring system would be introduced and the results published daily on the State Government's Environment and Heritage website.

"That's why we are committed to veneering 100% of coal wagons," Mr Roche said. "A dust monitoring program will run for 12 months. It will let us see the quality of the air in different parts of the year and in different seasons."

Mr Gordon criticised veneering coal wagons, saying it was not the most effective method of restricting coal dust particles because the veneering cracked during travel.

But Mr Roche said veneering was "best practice" and had reduced dust emissions by 80% in central Queensland.



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