AusRAIL, Market Sectors

ARTC drawn into dust scandal

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has strongly denied accusations that it doctored a recent report in a bid to downplay the air pollution impacts of dust from coal trains in the Hunter Valley. </span> <p>The Coal Terminal Action Group claims ARTC’s report on particulate emissions from coal trains, which concluded tha there was little difference between the dust produced by loaded coal trains operating on the Hunter Valley rail network compared to other trains, was altered before being publicly released. </p><p>According to the action group, 15 of the report’s 18 conclusions changed between the submission of the draft version on May 24 and the version made public six days later.</p><p>A leaked copy of the draft report received by the Hunter Community Environment Centre states, “Loaded coal trains and unloaded coal trains were associated with a statistically significant elevation in particulate matter concentrations when compared with the concentrations recorded where no train was passing the monitoring station.”</p><p>Yet the publicly released report found that the loaded coal trains were not associated with a higher elevation of particulate matter concentrations.</p><p>“The alterations were intended to mislead the government and people of NSW into believing that coal trains do not cause coal dust emissions when the opposite is true,&quot the action group said.<br /><br />ARTC strongly refuted the claims and stated at no time did the corporation request any changes to the data or statistical analysis in any of the drafts of the report.</p><p>According to ARTC, the discrepancies in the draft and final report were a result of an &quoterror in calculations.&quot<br /><br />The environmental consultants engaged by the corporation to undertake the study on its behalf discovered an error in their calculations while preparing the final report and “they adjusted the findings accordingly.”<br /><br />“The work plan, draft and final reports were provided to the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their review and comment before its final release,” ARTC said.</p><p>Unsatisfied by this explanation, the Coal Terminal Action Group has demanded a Special Commission of Inquiry be held into the matter. </p><p>ARTC is willingly providing all of the project’s raw data to the action group.<br /><br />Greens senator Lee Rhiannon has called on minister for transport and infrastructure Anthony Albanese to launch an independent investigation into the report’s discrepancies.<br /><br />“Minister Albanese cannot wash his hands of responsibility for this scandal. The ARTC bankrolls coal rail infrastructure in the Hunter,” Rhiannon said.<br /><br />ARTC has made both the draft and final report, Pollution Reduction Program 4.2: Particulate Emissions from Coal Trains, available on their website: <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /><br />&nbsp</p>