Toxins rise in Hunter’s suburbs

A new pollution analysis suggests residents in the Hunter are being exposed to some toxins at levels more than 100 times higher than they were a decade ago.

The Newcastle Herald reports analysis of National Pollution Inventory data shows the number of pollution generating industries rose from nine to 16 between 2001 and 2011 while the number of pollutants increased from 35 to 38.

The Herald reports that while some emissions like arsenic, lead and mercury have decreased, others have risen

Ammonia emissions increased 188per cent, benzene by 600per cent, sulphur dioxide by 312per cent and carbon monoxide by 6per cent.

Residents living in the postcode 2304, which includes the suburbs of Kooragang, Mayfield, Warabrook and Sandgate say increasing industrial activity will see the rise of pollution levels.

Correct Planning for Mayfield Group secretary Claire Charles said a master plan for Newcastle Port is necessary to acertain ‘what sorts of industry will be operating in the area in years to come.’

‘‘I’ve noticed there are more industrial emissions and odours today than a few years ago,’’ she said.
‘‘The thing we worry about most is what’s in the odour.’’

The group wants a health impact study implemented for all new industry that want to establish in the region.

An Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said conditions of environment protection licences should prevent pollution, maintain environmental standards and monitor environmental performance.

The authority may also order licence holders to undertake pollution reduction programs.

‘‘For example, the [authority] recently required Koppers Carbon Materials to introduce nitrogen blanketing to naphthalene tanks on its premises … resulting in a reduction in naphthalene emissions from the site’s process tanks.’’

New legislation was introduced  to strengthen requirements for industry to notify and respond to pollution incidents in the wake of Orica’s hexavalent chromium spill on Kooragang Island.

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