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Russell Tregonning Ora Taiao The Health Effects of Lignite Coal mining in Southland and Ota go.

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Presentation on theme: "Russell Tregonning Ora Taiao The Health Effects of Lignite Coal mining in Southland and Ota go."— Presentation transcript:

1 Russell Tregonning Ora Taiao The Health Effects of Lignite Coal mining in Southland and Ota go

2 Who are OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health? 140+ senior doctors and other NZ health professionals gravely concerned about the impacts of climate change(CC) as the leading global health threat this century the threat from CC supercedes the mortality from heart disease, cancer, AIDS/HIV, the diabetes epidemic-all combined Source--recent editorials in leading international medical journals eg The British Medical Journal, The Lancet etc.

3 Where do I come from?

4 What do I do?

5 Why am I talking about lignite? Burning coal CO2 Climate change Climate Change is the #1global health hazard (World Health Organisation, World Medical Assoc. etc ) Mining, processing and using coal is a health risk to people living locally Surgeons are charged- to advocate for improvements in individual and public health ( Aus. & NZ College of Surgeons Code of Conduct)

6 The cause of the current (unprecedented) rapid change in climate. The cause of the current (unprecedented) rapid change in climate.

7 The global effects of climate change The global effects of climate change

8 Why come to Mataura? -6 billion tonnes of recoverable lignite NZ(pp) is already 4 th highest global GHG emitter

9 Adequate, safe water & food Secure shelter & settlements Freedom from major pathogenic organisms Clean air to breathe Political stability Climate Change threatens all human health needs


11 NZ- may be particularly attractive to climate refugees

12 Coals Assault on Human Health coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the US: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases ….each step of the coal lifecyclemining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of post- combustion wastesimpacts human health. Physicians For Social Responsibility-- Nov 2009

13 Possible direct health effects on Southlanders AIR POLLUTION Particulate matter from coal (particularly fly ash) contain carcinogens, heavy metals & other toxic substances(eg Sox and Nox) These may cause- cancer, infant death & (IQ) chronic heart, lung & kidney diseases (cf US Appalachians) Asthma, diabetes, and ischaemic strokes

14 Other possible direct health effects of open- cast lignite mines on Southland- WATER POLLUTION Coal washing( slurry),leaching of waste by water, and run-off can poison water for humans and aquatic life (eg Stockton) The Mataura River is a taonga


16 Other direct health impacts of lignite mining Noise and vibration Accidents Dust Effects on vulnerable groups including children

17 Indirect health impacts NB Definition of Health (WHO)- =complete physical,mental and social well-being o Loss of physical amenity- Visual pollution & environ. desructn trucks ( road safety), space o Economic,employment and income o Social capital- migration, protest

18 Solid Energys consents- pilot briquette plant - burn approx 15,000 tons of lignite and produce 600 tons of coal ash discharge per annum (the company describes the ash as benign) Already has consent for- -discharge 5805 cu metres of treated mine water into water (? get to Mataura River-surely must in time?) - -discharge ash, sludge and general process water to land as backfill to a mine pit -discharge 50,000 tons of ash to land per annum at the New Vale mine -

19 We know what to do to beat climate change- THE LOW-C ECONOMY

20 Also-The low-carbon economy improves our health HEALTHY TRANSPORT active & public transport physical activity safety on roads air pollution HEALTHY HOUSING energy efficiency cheaper electricity & warmer houses less lung & other disease

21 My main reason for coming to Mataura?


23 Do we care? About contributing to the global #1 health problem About our clean green image and protecting it against our export competitors About giving our children and theirs the downsides of fossil fuels while we enjoy the benefits About desecrating the fertile Mataura valley and risking the health of its residents If the answer is YES, we must KEEP THE COAL IN THE HOLE!

24 Health Impact Assessment A formal process to predict the health effects of the lignite plans to allow mitigation of them Should be independent (not in-house), prospective & comprehensive I nvestigates the health of the miners, the surrounding Mataura community, the waterways & other environment which must include climate change

25 WHAT CAN WE DO? 1.PREVENTION Inform and educate New Zealanders about this project Appeal future consents to the Environment Court Organise protests. Stop asset sales 2. MITIGATION Support Public Health South in its application to Environment Southland for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment-to include the worlds #1 health problemclimate change


27 REFERENCES Changing planet, changing health -Epstein & Ferber Univ. Of California Press (2011) Storms of My Grandchildren -James Hansen-Bloomsbury Publishing (2009) Lignite & Climate Change: the high cost of low grade coal- Report of the parliamentary commissioner for the environment (Nov 2010) Coals assault on human health -Physicians for Social Lignite mining and processing in Southland New Zealand: a fossil- fuelled disaster for current and future generations. Medical students for global Awareness. My email- tregonning&

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