Foster Community Assoc.

Damning evidence on health impacts of coal & coal seam gas

A new doctors’ report reveals worrying evidence of likely health impacts from Australian coal and coal seam gas projects.

Doctors have released a damning report about the potential health effects on communities across Australia from coal and coal seam gas projects. The Health Factor by Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) reveals the costly legacy unfolding for Australia from under-regulation of the pollution caused by many resource projects.

The Health Factor describes cases where coal projects have been allowed to pollute at levels known to compromise human health and where inadequate monitoring of air quality disguises the dangers.

The report describes how cardio-respiratory and other diseases in nearby communities are likely to be caused or exacerbated by pollution from coal mining and transport. The report also points out that the research and regulation on coal seam gas lags well behind these developments, and the degree to which they harm human health is not yet understood.

“It is clear that State government approvals of coal and coal seam gas projects are often influenced by potential economic gain without thorough assessment of potential harms,” said DEA spokesperson, Dr David Shearman.

“Permitting dangerous pollution is creating a costly legacy for Australia that is being picked up in the healthcare and other sectors.

“The social and financial costs of this pollution are not being measured or factored in when projects are given the go ahead.

“Those who believe Australian resource projects are operating with ‘world’s best practice’ are simply mistaken.

“What we are seeing is a trend to ‘cutting green tape’ without consideration of the consequences. There is room for assessment to become much more efficient by using the same standards in all States.

The Health Factor describes the failure of governments and resource companies to protect human health and it advocates for health impact assessments to be a mandatory part of the approval processes for any polluting industrial project.

“Assessment of the health impacts of resource projects need to be much more robust and consistent across all States.” Dr Shearman said.

“Governments need to conduct proper health impact assessments before projects are approved to better protect the health of communities.

“Rules for monitoring pollution during the life of the project and beyond must be introduced

The Health Factor analysis shows the need for urgent national reforms.” Dr Shearman said.

The report is available for download (1Mb PDF): The Health Factor or visit the Doctors for Environment Australia website

For more information or a printed copy of the report, please contact Anne Walker. M: 0419 505889

Media contacts:

Dr David Shearman (SA): 08 83393972
Dr Linda Selvey (WA): 0412 072168