Coal train dust report ‘doctored’

THE NSW government changed adverse findings of a report on coal train pollution to suit its political goals, a community action group says.

Five months after emissions monitoring ceased and only six days before it was released, the report on dust from Newcastle coal trains was altered contradicting initial findings that ‘‘coal trains are much more polluting’’, the Coal Terminal Action Group says.

Spokesman James Whelan says 15 of the 18 findings in the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) Particulate Emissions from Coal Trains report had been changed.

‘‘In three instances, the opposite conclusions were stated,’’ he said in a statement.

‘‘By deleting or inserting the word ‘no’ or ’not’, a very different picture of the impacts of coal trains on air quality in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter is reached.

‘‘Other conclusions were modified to significantly downplay the pollution levels associated with coal trains.’’

Three new conclusions were added, he said.

The ARTC said the report had gone through a final review process to ensure it was accurate.

‘‘The environmental consultants that prepared this report discovered an error in the calculations while preparing the final report and they adjusted the findings accordingly,’’ it said in a statement.

It said despite the changes both versions of the report made substantially the same finding that loaded coal trains on the Hunter network didn’t have higher particle emissions than other trains.

But Dr Whelan said the report had been changed to ‘‘suit the ARTC and NSW government agenda … to do nothing about dust from coal trains and pander to the coal industry’’.


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