Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the investigation was conducted over a 30 day period and was designed to investigate air quality at a complaint hotspot adjacent to the rail line.
“Experts from the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) conducted air quality testing adjacent to the rail corridor used by trains transporting coal from West Moreton coal mines to the Port of Brisbane,” he said.
DSITIA assistant director-general Dr Christine Williams said the investigation examined coal train dust impacts in the community from the perspectives of health risk and nuisance, and the contribution of coal particles to overall dust levels.
“The results found fine particles (PM10 - particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter) levels did not exceed the 24-hour average air quality objective on any day at the Tennyson Railway Station monitoring site during the entire investigation,” Williams said.
“Findings from the monitoring also indicate that coal trains are not a significant contributor to fine particle PM10 levels in the Tennyson community compared to other local and regional sources of PM10 such as motor vehicle emissions.”
Deposited dust, otherwise known as dustfall, was also tested and found to be less than dust nuisance trigger guidelines.
“The monitoring did find that the proportion of coal dust within the dustfall samples was higher than that found in the previous 1998 study,” Dr Williams said.
“However, it determined the major component of deposited dust was from soil and rock particles while coal particles only made up of about 10-20% of deposited dust. Black rubber particles from tyres also contributed about 10%.”
Powell said that under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, rail operators were required to take all reasonable and practicable measures to minimise activities that cause environmental harm including nuisance, such as dust.
“Whilst the report indicates that the dust levels are under the national standards, it is important that the network operators and users implement ongoing network wide monitoring to continuously measure the performance of their dust management systems,” he said.
“I am also pleased to see representatives of the coal industry taking steps to address community concerns. Initiatives such as the New Hope Group veneering coal wagons from the New Acland mine by March 2013 are likely to reduce the amount of coal dust being emitted from the rail line.”
Meanwhile, Queensland mine developer OGL Resources has received a positive outcome from the impact assessment study for its proposed road transport option to the existing Port Pinkenba facility at the Port of Brisbane.
The report, completed by an independent engineering consultancy, determined “no issues of concern” to prohibit the road haulage of coal product between the mine and port.
The road haulage report complements the recently announced positive feasibility study for the use of the Pinkenba port facility for the handling and export of up to 1.5 million tonnes per annum, the company said.