Toxic dust has long been a concern of Townsville residents. Being home to a large industrial port, it is no great surprise that Townsville is exposed to various forms of dust. The location of the port so close to the CBD, the strand and residential areas means that any potential exposure caused by the port would have a large and immediate impact. Its high visibility also ensures it remains a point of community concern.
In late 2014, NQCC commissioned Professor Mark Taylor from Macquarie University to undertake a study of the situation downwind of the port. His ensuing report, Atmospherically Deposited Metal and Metalloid Dust Contamination in Inner Townsville, was made public in November 2104, following a presentation to invited port stakeholders.
The work was subsequently written up for publication and, after peer review, published in the Journal Science of the Total Environment, 515-516 (2015) 143-152. The report and associated published paper, originally downplayed by the Port and State Government, continued to attract considerable public attention. Click here for our blog posts on the issue and here to check our archive for older posts.
In March 2015, the Port agreed to set up a group PSWG Terms of Reference to look at the issues involved. The first meeting of the Port Stakeholders Working Group (PSWG) was held on 7 April.
Around the table were representatives of:
- NQCC (Wendy Tubman and Bill Laing, later replaced by Charlie McColl)
- Townsville City Council
- BHP Billiton (Cannington)
- Glendora, Queensland Nickel
- Townsville Bulk Storage and Handling
- Northern Stevedoring Services
- the Departments of Environment and Heritage Protection, and Science, IT and Innovation
- Queensland Health and
- the Port of Townsville.
By the following meeting, and following a public call and selection by members of the PSWG, four committee representatives (Judy Newman, Ian Ferguson, Clive Berger, James Hobbs) had been appointed.
In August 2016 the group released the monthly Operations Data Dashboard. The dashboard is the result of 15 months effort by the group to increase transparency and accountability to the public
The Operations Data Dashboard presents information on:
- The purpose of the PSWG
- The type of equipment used to measure air quality in Townsville and by whom
- Cargo types handled at the Townsville Port
- Access to live air quality readings from the XACT Monitor at the CoastGuard
- Monthly data graphs from three monitoring sites showing
- General total dust levels
- Lead in dust levels
- General dust deposition levels
- Shipping data (vessel type, commodity, date, berth visited) both retrospective and on a live schedule
- Climatic data from the Bureau of Meteorology
On September 6 2016 Charlie McColl released an article through NQCC, Townsville Port Still Battling Lead Dust Pollution, in response to the release of the Operations Data Dashboard. The article outlines the need for more work to be done to account for lead dust pollution from the port and to further reduce the levels Townsville is exposed to.
PSWG Data Dashboard
PSWG Meeting Minutes
PSWG November 2015 minutes • PSWG October 2015 minutes • PSWG September 2015 minutes • PSWG August 2015 minutes • PSWG July 2015 Minutes • PSWG June 2015 Minutes • PSWG May 2015 Minutes • PSWG April 2015 Minutes
PSWG Meeting Presentations
- Coastguard monitoring Nov 2015
- TBSH Presentation 31 July 2015
- NSS Presentation 24 June 2015
- Cannington South 32 Presentation 24 June 2015
- Glencore Presentation 24 June 2015
- DEHP Presentation to PSWG 27 May 2015
- Presentation from POTL (An overview of the Port) 7 April 2015
- Env Footprint of Cruise ships
Media Statements from the PSWG
- PSWG Data Dashboard Released - 26 August 2016
- PSWG Media Statement November 2015
- PSWG Media Statement 5 August 2015
- PSWG Media Statement 24 June
- PSWG Media Statement of 27 May
Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation's Air Quality Bulletins
- Air Quality Bulletin May 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin April 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin March 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin February 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin January 2016
- Air Quality Bulletin December 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin November 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin October 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin September 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin August 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin July 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin June 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin May 2015
- Air Quality Bulletin April 2015
- Bulletins prior to 2015
• Last updated 13/10/2016
Paperbark is a monthly e-update of NQCC activities, campaigns, news and events.
Welcome to this month’s issue of Paperbark. We’d like to welcome a new staffer to the NQCC community – Jacob Miller. In the role of community campaigner, Jacob will be organising some big events coming up this year, producing media and written content on our site and improving NQCC’s community outreach. Welcome Jacob!
In this issue: Proposed funding cuts to ARENA – ACF loses court case to Adani – Queenslands climate change action policy – Toxic lead dust from Townsville port – Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional NRM published – Interactive sea level rise modelling launched – Upcoming events – General notices.Read more
Guest post by Charlie McColl, NQCC’s representative on the Port Stakeholders Working Group.
New data coming from updated monitoring equipment at the Townsville waterfront appears to confirm long-held community concern about heavy metal pollution being carried in dust emanating from the state-owned Port of Townsville. As long ago as 2010 a Queensland Government report concluded that:
While compliance with EPP (Air) objectives was maintained at all times, the monitoring program identified that dust emissions from Townsville Port activities did contribute to ambient levels of Total Suspended Particles [TSP], lead, copper, zinc, arsenic and cadmium, and to lead deposition, at the closest monitoring site, Coast Guard. Measurable contributions of these pollutants from Townsville Port activities at monitoring sites located further from the Port were only observed for lead.
Queensland Health has concluded that the total exposure to lead from inhalation and ingestion of dust in the residential community areas near the Townsville Port is highly unlikely to be associated with any known adverse health effects.
Welcome to the July edition of Paperbark! At the time of writing, the dust is still settling from the Federal Election. We know that the Liberal National coalition will continue, the seat of Herbert is still undecided, and it will be weeks before the final make-up of the Senate is confirmed. In this issue: Election wrap – Plastic Free July – Coal Dust – Butterfly trip to Maggie – Citizen science bird study
The future for climate campaigning at a Federal politics level is uncertain. Although some of the worst blockers in the last Parliament have exited, many voters rejected the major parties and voted for populist minor parties, such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
This is not good news for action on climate change. A Parliament under the influence of right-wing climate action blockers, puppeteered by the coal and gas industry, is going to make the fight for climate justice much more difficult.Read more
In this issue: Welcome back; Feeling the heat; NQCC News in brief; Carmichael Mine; Contaminated dust deposition; Water issues; A GLOBAL agreement on climate change – Paris December 2015; Divestment – Westpac commitment, Market Forces ‘Burned’ Report; improved SuperSwitch; Decarbonisation – Inspiration for Action; Earth Hour; Townsville Against Live Export; Turning clicktivists into real-world activists; Diary Dates.
It seems crazy to be wishing people a happy new year when we are over a 10th of the way through 2016 – but we do hope that the year ahead will be a good one for you and yours.
Paperbark is a monthly e-letter of current NQCC activities, campaigns, news and events
The Paris agreement
The people marched, leaders and the world’s powerful converged on Paris, and an agreement was reached. Better than past outcomes? Definitely. Sufficient to address the problem? Unfortunately not.
As George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian, ‘… the Paris agreement is full of soft facts: promises that can slip or unravel. Until governments undertake to keep fossil fuels in the ground, they will continue to undermine the agreement they have just made.’Read more
Charlie McColl and Wendy Tubman represent NQCC on the Port Stakeholder Working Group (PSWG) formed following findings of high levels of heavy metals in urban spaces in proximity to the Townsville Port.
Overall, NQCC is pleased to report that the Port Stakeholders Working Group is functioning well.
Key reportings from the October 2015 meeting of the PSWG are:Read more