QR to test coal dust levels in Brisbane

ueensland Rail will carry out a series of tests to measure coal dust levels across Brisbane suburbs.

It comes as a massive investigation is held into the current coal dust levels across Newcastle and across the Illawarra region.

In Newcastle the Greens are leading the 'Great Cover Up" campaign to force coal trains to cover their loads to minimise the amount of coal dust thrown into the air during transport, according to the Newcastle Herald.

The Illawarra region quickly followed in the Hunter Valley's footsteps, with the local Greens pushing to also have trains in the region covered.

"There is growing community support in the Hunter … to require all coal trains to be covered," Jill Merrin told the Illawarra Mercury.

"Residents of Wollongong are also being subject to the health risks of coal dust by the transport of open-topped coal trains through their neighbourhoods.

"We now know that the fine dust particles from coal have the potential to cause serious lung diseases."

Merrin added that there are wildly different approaches to how coal is handled depending on the transport method.

"Trucks which transport coal are currently required to have their loads covered, so we want to know why the same standards are not applied to coal trains," Merrin said.

Now Queensland is following suit, with state transport minister Scott Emerson stating that QR will conduct testing in conjunction with the state government.

Emerson said it has been nearly a decade since levels were last tested, the ABC reports.

"Ten years ago when that monitoring was done it showed that levels were safe in terms of coal dust," Emerson said.

"But I do think it is appropriate for some more monitoring to be done and QR National is in negotiations with QR Limited to do some additional monitoring to see what the current situation is."

A group called "Stop Brisbane Coal Trains" is attempting raise awareness of the issue in the city.

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