DUSTY BUSINESS: Campaigners want the government to take action on the issue of open coal wagons.
DUSTY BUSINESS: Campaigners want the government to take action on the issue of open coal wagons. Sarah Harvey

Get tough on industry, urges coal dust lobby

ANTI-COAL dust campaigners say the Newman Government should abandon toeing the mining industry's line on "veneering" after meeting Environment Minister Andrew Powell.

Stop Brisbane Coal Trains spokesman John Gordon met with Mr Powell at his invitation to discuss the coal dust issue along the Western Rail Corridor.

Veneering is a process whereby the surface of the coal load is treated with a chemical to form a thin crust, preventing the escape of coal dust into the air.

Mr Powell said he called the meeting to hear directly from the residents, saying he shared the community's concerns and expected mining companies to lift their game.

"Both Premier Campbell Newman and I have publicly expressed our real expectations that coal trains traversing the Western Corridor to the Port of Brisbane should have coal wagons veneered and we are not backing away from that," he said.

"The fact is the government does share the concerns residents have about the impact of uncovered coal trains and we do expect mining companies to lift their game in this regard.

"It is merely a question of when and how - not if."

Mr Gordon said the meeting was tense at times, but believed Mr Powell was genuine in his acknowledgement of the issue.

But he called on Mr Powell to continue to pressure companies to introduce veneering and covers to coal trains.

"He and Campbell Newman say they are going to veneer, there is very little legislation governing these trains or coal dust standards. They are almost non-existent," he said.

"That's why we are calling for an independent inquiry to get the experts to see what is required.

"They can't veneer, they don't have the technology. It's time for the government to actually do something, get industry best practices and be proactive."

Mr Powell said the South West System User's Group, which includes coal miners, Aurizon and Queensland Bulk Handlings, would have its Coal Dust Management Plan completed by mid-year.

"In this regard the department of Transport has been working with QR, with officials from my department, and with the South West System User's Group to explore and ensure the development of additional measures to reduce coal dust on the West Moreton Rail System."