Environmental Injustice and Air Pollution in the Hunter
Running Title: Environmental Injustice and Air Pollution in the Hunter
The authors describe environmental injustice from air pollution in the Upper Hunter,
Australia and analyse the inaction of state authorities in addressing residents’ health
concerns. Obstacles blocking public air monitoring and a health study include: the
interdependence of state government and corporations in reaping the economic
benefits of coal production; lack of political will and regulatory inertia; and study
design and measurement issues. We analyse mining and coal-related air pollution in
Bourdieu’s (1989) terms as a social field; residents, civil society and local
government groups struggle with corporations and government over the burden of
imposed health risk caused by air pollution.
Open cut mining involves drilling and blasting followed by draglines, power shovels,
bucket wheel excavators, loaders, dumpers and conveyor belts removing large
amounts of overburden to reach coal deposits.
These operations result in massive discharge of fine particulates from overburden material. Further particulate matter is released into the air during excavation, size reduction, waste removal, transportation, loading and stockpiling of coal; and via fugitive emissions from spontaneous combustion of coal. The Upper Hunter also has two of the most polluting power
stations in Australia (CARMA: Carbon Monitoring for Action 2007), as well as the
smaller Redbank Power Station.
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