Coal Health Study Blog


Proposed Hunter Valley Edition, Coal Health Study

The Coal Health Study blog is hoping to perform a Hunter Valley Edition of the Coal Health Study, using publicly available health data for the region.

Coal Mine Concerns in NSW Australia
Coal mines in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales (NSW), Australia form part of the supply chain for “the world’s largest coal export operation”, according to the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team website.

Australian Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has been calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the health impacts of coal mining and power station emissions, as reported mid-August 2009. Rhiannon is quoted as saying “the government is making millions from the Upper Hunter coal industry, giving the go ahead to one of the biggest industry expansions in NSW’s history.”

Last week, the Australian government announced that it had made a deal with coal and power industries for a regionally co-ordinated air quality monitoring network, to be managed by Macquarie Street.

As reported in The Herald, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said “It isn’t enough to just monitor; they need to investigate and prosecute offences”, and “the Government should instead reopen the Environment Protection Authority office at Muswellbrook.” The Herald article also noted that “Mr Rhiannon said the Government needed to also fund research into the health impact of coalmining.”

The following quote from a recent Coal Mining news article sums up the Greens position:

The Greens are concerned that the new Air Quality Monitoring Network is simply window dressing, designed to deflect community concern about the adverse impacts of coal mining on local’s health.

The Greens are calling for the Air Quality Monitoring Network Memorandum of Understanding to be released so the local community can scrutinise the arrangement

Local NSW Doctor Undertakes Independent Study
As reported in this Singleton Argus article, Dr. Tuan Au of Singleton will be conducting his own study into the health impacts that air pollution is having on local residents.
Dr. Tuan Au is disturbed by the “high number of children that attend general practices in town presenting symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems”.

Dr. Au is located in Singleton, which the Coal Industry Centre refers to as “the heart of the Hunter Valley coalfields region of NSW Australia.”

Hunter Valley Edition, Coal Health Study
In conjunction with community groups and in support of doctor Au’s study, which he estimates will take approximately 5 years to complete, the Coal Health Study blog is hoping to perform a Hunter Valley Edition of the Coal Health Study, using publicly available health data for the region, to the extent that they exist and are sufficient.

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Dr. van Steenis Speaks: Unedited Footage

MP3 UPLOAD – Dr Van Steenis Speaks to Douglas

SLIDESHOW – Audio and Some Photos, No Video – Doctor van Steenis speaks to Douglas

FULL VIDEO – Dr Dick van Steenis speaks to Douglas community

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Photo & Video Credit: Nicholas Roberts

The St Bride Centre was packed this past Wednesday, 23 September, with around 100 attendees. Among the attendees were 3 doctors, in addition to Dr. Dick van Steenis himself.

The Sunday Herald published an article on Dr. van Steenis’ lecture that has gone to press today: Opencast mines will lead to public health disaster, warns poison expert

Early on in his lecture, Dr. van Steenis cited examples of ill-health arising from pollution, and in the case where such ill-health effects are denied, he decried corruption in the field of public health in the UK. Dr. van Steenis also disputed the veracity of environmental reports issued by consultancy companies in the employ of coal companies.

Later on in his lecture, Dr. van Steenis described the mechanisms whereby particulate matter less than approximately 3 microns (a micron is a millionth of meter) causes inflammation and damage in the lungs, and leads to the development of cardiopulmonary disease and other disorders.

Coal Health Study, Final Scottish Climate Camp Version

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Photo Credit:  Lindsay Addison

There has been no commissioned research into the effects of open-cast coal mining on the health of Douglasdale (South Lanarkshire, Scotland) residents.  Globally, no research has yet been undertaken on the health effects of open-cast coal-mining operations which span such large spatial extents and decades-long time scale as those pending for the Douglasdale area of Scotland.

During the Scottish Camp for Climate Action at the Mainshill Solidarity Camp in Douglas Scotland 2009, Kirstie Stramler PhD, working under the auspices of Indymedia UK, performed a preliminary analysis on publicly available data.

The study revealed striking ill-health in people who reside near the Douglas and Dalmellington open-cast coal mines, as compared with aggregated UK health statistics and with a nearby Scottish village upwind from the mines.

The final version of the study from the Independent media tent at the Scottish Camp for Climate Action at the Mainshill Solidarity Camp can only be found here:

As these freely available government health statistics (see QOF and NHS databases) revealed shocking correlations between the operation of multiple open-cast coal mines and the negative effects on the health of the local population, this report has shed new light on the imperative to assess the heretofore neglected community health impacts of coal extraction activities occurring on the spatial scale of the South Lanarkshire area of Scotland.

This Scottish Climate Camp version of the Douglasdale report is finished.  There will be no more Climate Camp Indymedia versions issued by Kirstie Stramler.  The authoritative PDF version can only be found at the link above — any other versions are incomplete or are unauthorized.

A new, extended version will be compiled under the auspices of another organization.   Address questions or comments on the report to Dr. Kirstie Stramler at coalhealthstudy@gmail.com .


Adverse Effects of Open-cast Coal Mining, 11 Aug. 2009