Real time air quality information for Upper Hunter

People in the Upper Hunter will be able to find out about their air quality at any time of day, as the first two monitoring stations go live in Singleton and Muswellbrook today.

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People in the Upper Hunter will be able to find out about their air quality at any time of day, as the first two monitoring stations go live in Singleton and Muswellbrook today.

 Local miners and power generations have partnered with the community to fund the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network, which will continually assess the air quality in the region and be available in real time and online 24 hours a day.

 Designed by a leading air quality expert, the 14 stations will be independently operated by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

 At the official launch in Singleton, NSW Minerals Council CEO, Nikki Williams said the monitoring system was the result of concerns from the community about the ease of accessing air quality information. They said the information available was often too difficult to find, or too technical for most people to understand.

 With the new system, the result of a partnership between the Government and NSW Minerals Council, residents will be able to easily access simple information, whenever they need.

 “The result is an extensive, independent monitoring network that will give the people of the Upper Hunter access to real time information that’s reliable and that makes sense,” Williams said.

 “It will also give industry and government regulators a better understanding of regional ambient air quality, complementing the current local monitoring that mines undertake around their operations.

 “We understand the genuine concerns in the community about the impacts of what we do and we take them very seriously. Mine sites have comprehensive plans to manage dust. Mines can minimise dust by modifying their operations in response to real time monitoring of air quality and weather conditions. Appropriate mine design, progressive rehabilitation and water suppression also contribute to dust management.”

 She says mining companies are continually looking at ways to lower their impact on air quality and the health and safety of residents in these communities.

 “The industry is continually evaluating and improving dust management practices across all of its operations. For example, we’re trialing the use of aerial seeding over larger areas of overburden, growing a cover crop to hold the soil together and reduce any disturbance from wind. We’re also trialling the use of synthetic dust suppressants on haul roads and funding research to determine their effectiveness in different situations.

“We’re thinking about things differently and we’re open-minded about doing things differently too.

 “The Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue is also underway, where the region’s coal producers are taking part in an open-ended discussion with the community about the role of mining and its impacts, the local economy and the region’s future. 

“This is not about telling the community what to talk about. It’s up to those people taking part to identify the issues and the key point is that we are listening. We’re looking forward to sharing those results with stakeholders in the New Year.”


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