19th November, 2010
FOR the first time a panel of state government representatives fronted the community in Singleton last Thursday in an open dialogue exchange seen by some as the start of a new era of dealing with coal mining issues.
It has been two years since the Singleton Shire Healthy Environment Group (SSHEG) was formed and last week’s meeting gave unanimous support to the group to continue to pursue health, environment and mining practice issues on behalf of the community.
While the meeting two years ago largely consisted of Singleton residents, last week’s meeting attracted an audience from a far broader area.
Residents from throughout the Upper Hunter and other mining areas in Gloucester and Wyong were joined by groups supporting the thoroughbred industry, those against coal seam gas exploration and activists planning a climate action camp at Liddell Power Station in December.
Dr Tony Merritt and Dr Phillipe Porigneaux, representing NSW Health, spoke about results already reported on in The Argus that shows concern for asthma and respiratory disease is warranted.
Dr Merritt went on to explain that the rates of all types of cancer in Singleton and Muswellbrook were no different to anywhere else in the state and that residents should find some reassurances in that finding.
Speaking on the air monitoring network, Department of Environment Climate Change and Water, Mr Mitchell Bennett said the network had the ability of not just determining if air quality was good or bad but would identify where there was a problem.
Some angst was voiced by the audience about the location and ability of the system to monitor the smaller particulate matter 2.5s and a new reason was offered to explain why the majority of the 14 air monitors will only measure pm10s.
Mr Bennett said pm10s fell to the ground more rapidly and therefore the new monitoring system would give a clearer understanding of where the dust was coming from.
In turn, this would give the department the ability to pin-point problems and to address them.