Whitehaven Coal claims Randwick residents worse off than living next to Maules Creek mine

Media Release from our friends at the Leard Forest Research Node

Jamie Frankcombe, a senior Whitehaven Coal executive, on Wednesday told ABC Radio National Breakfast radio that residents in the desirable Sydney suburb of Randwick are inflicted with worse air pollution than farms abutting the notorious Maules Creek coal mine.

He referred to air pollution levels at the NSW EPA’s Randwick monitor, located at Avoca and Bundock Streets, as evidence of worse pollution than that measured in the Maules Creek “region”. However, he failed to point out that the Maules Creek regional air monitor is 7 km distant from the Maules Creek mine, and not in the direction of the prevailing wind as is Pat Murphy’s property.

“Pat Murphy’s paddocks and farming operations are just over 1 km away from the mine, not 7 km like the regional air monitor that Mr Frankcombe was referring to,” said Anna Christie from the volunteer group, the Leard Forest Research Node, which was formed to conduct community-based monitoring and scientific investigations into the coal mines of the Leard Forest precinct.

“Jamie Frankcombe’s statement to the ABC yesterday is typical of the kind of nonsense that the EPA and NSW Dept of Planning have to constantly put up with from Whitehaven Coal,” said Ms Christie.

The Maules Creek mine, at the far north-eastern tip of the Liverpool Plains, was the subject of a journalistic investigation by RN Breakfast into toxic air pollution from mine activities, including coal dust, overburden dust and blasting fumes from several blasts per week.

“Whitehaven maintains strict secrecy around the Material Safety Data Sheets for the blasting chemicals used, so locals can’t even find out what toxic effects they are being subjected to by the company,” said Ms Christie.

“Whitehaven Coal yesterday unveiled its Quarterly Production Report which revealed accelerating output of thermal coal, but we do not know if shareholders and investors are also being briefed about the record of non-compliance of the Maules Creek mine, which included 100 noise violations last year detected  by the NSW EPA.”

“Whitehaven Coal states that it is the lowest cost coal producer in Australia,” said Ms Christie, “however, the cost of this on the community of Maules Creek is high. The community is effectively subsidising the mine, being subjected to a range of potential health impacts caused by dust and blasting pollution, as well as 24/7 low-frequency noise.”

“The Leard Forest Research Node is now commencing studies of dust levels in the area. This is a follow up to last year’s Pilot Study into noise levels around the Maules Creek mine where we concluded that the modelling presented to the NSW Government to gain planning approval was highly inaccurate,” said Ms Christie. “We do not believe they can control their noise pollution after 10 PM, and should not be operating during night-time hours. Whitehaven is also clearly struggling to control dust, unsuccessfully in our opinion.”

FURTHER INFORMATION: Anna Christie, Leard Forest Research Node 0425 322 186

Hear the Radio National Story “FARMER PAT MURPHY: A ‘FORGOTTEN MAN’