Australia faces growing costs of cleaning up coal dust

The nation is facing growing costs as coal dust is found to be contaminating waterways and air quality.

Key points:More than 200 tonnes of coal ash was found in a Queensland creek in March 2017The Department of Environment says it has no way of knowing how much pollution is being carried by coal dust from the state’s power plantsThe department says the coal ash has been found to have the potential to contaminate waterways and the air quality of the areaIt’s believed to be the first time coal ash found in Queensland has been confirmed to have been linked to air quality problems.

Key findings:In March 2017, a coal ash deposit in the town of Mount Hagen, in the Brisbane region, was found to contain more than 200,000 tonnes of contaminated coal ash.

More than 30 tonnes of the coal was found within a single metre of a watercourse in the creek, and the Department of the Environment says this suggests the coal may have been carried by a river and polluted the area for many years.

A report into the coal found in the Mount Hagens Creek by the department concluded that the coal had been contaminated by the presence of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium, which can harm the nervous system.

“We are now working with industry and the public to identify ways to remove the coal dust and to reduce pollution in the region,” the department said.

It said it was also trying to identify how much coal ash could have been transported by river from the coal mine, and to develop a cost-benefit analysis for the coal.

“This is an important project for the region and we are proud of the work that has been done to ensure we are safe for all of our residents and visitors,” a department spokesperson said.

The Department said the coal in the coal deposit was not in any immediate danger of leaking or leaking water.

“As it is still under quarantine, the coal remains a hazard to the surrounding community and is being monitored and controlled,” the spokesperson said, adding the department was working with the Department for Environment Protection (DEP) and other stakeholders to develop the cost-benefits analysis.

“There are a number of public health impacts associated with the coal, including elevated levels of air pollution, toxic fumes, and potentially significant health impacts on local communities.”

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