Research on coal train impacts
Hunter rail corridor users and operators have combined in the next step in the continuing efforts of the Hunter Valley coal industry to better understand coal train impacts through a new research project.
"Extensive scientific studies by a wide range of organisations in recent years have consistently found that air quality around the Newcastle rail corridor is good, meets national air quality standards, and that coal trains do not have a significant impact on ambient air quality," said NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee. "We know that coal trains generate some dust, just like freight trains, passenger trains, trucks, cars, agriculture, bush fires, wood heaters, wind and sea spray. But all the evidence suggests coal trains contribute a small proportion of overall particulates and have little effect on ambient air quality," said Mr Galilee. “The NSW Government recently announced additional air quality monitoring in the Newcastle region. This is a welcome Research on coal train impacts development that will help contribute further facts and evidence on air quality for the community.
"The coal industry will also contribute to the available science and evidence by researching practical measures that might further reduce what is already a small contributor to overall particulates in the region," Mr Galilee said.
The new research project will identify factors in the Hunter Valley coal chain that influence potential dust emissions from trains, such as loading and unloading practices, the shape of coal loads (which influences wind erosion), travel times and distances, coal types, and whether coal is washed before it is transported.
Opportunities to make changes to minimise potential dust emissions will be identified, and wind tunnel tests will also be conducted to assess the effectiveness of spraying the surface of coal loads with water or chemical veneer to reduce wind erosion.
The research will be conducted by independent expert consultants Pacific Environment and Introspec Consulting.