Dust-up over coal trains
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IPSWICH residents are angry their concerns about about coal dust have been ignored as a wealthy Brisbane suburb has its air tested for pollution levels by the State Government.
More than 100 freight trains haul coal along the Ipswich train line each week, causing many residents to fear they may be breathing in toxic coal dust left behind by rumbling wagons.
The Newman government is awaiting the results of air samples taken near Tennyson station, in Brisbane, but Ipswich CBD resident Cassie McMahon believes the results won't reflect the problem in Ipswich.
Ms McMahon is leading a group of Ipswich residents calling for regular testing along the Ipswich line too.
"I was greatly concerned that it had been 10 years since the government had done any testing," she said.
"They should be happening on a full-time, regular basis because they are travelling through urban areas."
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection executive director Andrew Connor said Tennyson was known as a coal dust "hot spot", receiving the most community complaints.
But Ms McMahon said the enclosed Ipswich train station and Rosewood should be among the places regularly tested.
The group found ledges covered in black dust during a recent visit to Ipswich station.
Ms McMahon's call for testing has been backed by Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller and Mayor Paul Pisasale.
Bundamba MP Ms Miller is concerned the testing won't uncover the extent of the issue.
"I think it's important that if we are going to undertake a study to see what the scale of the problem is, then the testing clearly needs to be undertaken properly," she said.
Cr Pisasale said residents living along the Ipswich rail corridor also deserved air monitoring.
"Common sense will tell you covering all wagons is the ultimate and permanent solution to eliminate any potential coal dust issues in urban areas. The health of residents must come first," he said.
Rail Back on Track spokesmen Robert Dow said the covering the coal trains or introducing a rail link to the Port of Brisbane was the best solution.
Ipswich MP Ian Berry said the results of the current testing, due in December, would be used to assess what further action needed to be taken.
"It is important that science inform any proposed action in changing the practices in freighting coal, and that is exactly what the government is doing," he said.