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Australian coal giants breach operating conditions

Coal giants breach operating conditions: wind covers Hunter in coal dust

Greens MP and mining spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said despite vicious winds over the weekend whipping up huge plumes of coal dust in the Hunter Valley, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo Coal failed to comply with conditions of operation that require the use of water to dampen the dust.

All open cut coal mines in the Upper Hunter kept up operations on the weekend, despite fierce winds sending a cloud of dust down the Hunter Valley, that created health risks and obscuring visibility on local roads, Ms Rhiannon said.

BHP Billiton at Mount Arthur thumbed its nose at conditions of operation that require automatically activated water sprays be used on bins where mined coal is deposited to dampen dust at the mining site.

The Greens understand at least four complaints were received but operations kept up regardless.

Coal mining also kept up unabated at Rio Tintos Bengalla operations and Anglo Coals Drayton operations.

At Scone Airport, about 30km from Mt Arthur, wind reached a gust speed of 104km an hour three times between 3.20 and 3.40 pm yesterday.

No mountain ranges or wooded areas lie between the airport and coal mines that would reduce this wind force.

BHP Billiton just posted a record $13 m annual profit. But it seems it and other wealthy companies couldnt be bothered to protect the health of local communities by acting to reduce this dangerous dust cloud.

People living in Mussellbrook and surrounding areas are at risk of respiratory diseases from this dust but face the inaction of coal companies and the NSW government.

The government should be cracking down on these kinds of blatant infringements that are putting locals health and safety at risk, Ms
Rhiannon said.

© Scoop Media

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