The Climate Council’s Tim Flannery has expressed concern for the short and long-term health of people exposed to smoke from the Hazelwood coal mine fire.
Cross-posted from theguardian.com
Climate scientist Tim Flannery says communities living near coalmines are being kept in the dark about the dangers, and has called for the inquiry into the effects of wind turbines on health to also look at mines and fires.
Thousands of residents have been affected by the fire at the Hazelwood coalmine which has been burning for three weeks, sending smoke across the community of Morwell in Victoria.
Flannery, the former chief commissioner of the Climate Commission and now head of the Climate Council, has expressed concern for the health of people exposed to the smoke, and questioned whether enough preparation was done by mine operator GDF Suez.
The Abbott government has promised to commission “comprehensive” research into the possible health dangers of wind turbines.
“Coal fires are a notorious risk for coalmines. In North America whole towns have had to be relocated because of fires that have been uncontrollable,” Flannery said.
“In the US and Canada there are something like 55,000 deaths related to burning coal,” he said, citing a statement from the US organisationPhysicians for Social Responsibility.
Doctors earlier this week warned of the danger to residents of Morwell from carcinogenic particulate pollution, which was found to be at levels up to 20 times the normal average.
Vulnerable groups of people in South Morwell were advised to temporarily relocate due to the danger of PM2.5 particle, but many residents expressed confusion about the dangers.
Flannery called for a government inquiry into all Australian mines and the risks to communities.
“Our government is doing an inquiry into the health impact of wind [turbines], but here we’ve got this risk with coal. If the federal government expanded their inquiry that would be good start,” he said.
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