Responding to today's news that a federal government report may have been doctored to downplay the air pollution impacts from coal rail transport, Greens transport spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has called on Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to reveal any involvement by his department and the Australian Rail Track Corporation in altering the findings of this report (Coal train cover-up, Daily Telegraph, http://tinyurl.com/m6d2po4).
"Minister Albanese needs to explain why the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) publicly released a report that appears to have falsified results," Senator Rhiannon said.
"The altered report fits hand-in-hand with the coal industry's strategy to downplay the health impacts of the mining and transport of coal.
"A draft version of the ARTC report dated 24 May that was leaked by an anonymous source to the Greens and a Hunter community group, concluded that air pollution levels were high when loaded and unloaded coal rail wagons passed the monitoring station compared to when there was no rail traffic.
"Only six days later, the final version of the report was released with that conclusion reversed.
"Three of the report's conclusions about coal related air pollution were changed by inserting a 'not' or 'no'. In a number of other findings, the results were modified to significantly reduce the air pollution levels associated with coal trains.
"Minister Albanese cannot wash his hands of responsibility for this scandal. The ARTC bankrolls coal rail infrastructure in the Hunter.
"The Greens are calling on Minister Albanese to launch an independent investigation into the discrepancies between the draft and final reports and publicly report on why the report's conclusions were altered", said Senator Rhiannon.
Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne said "Families up and down the Hunter coal rail line have every right to be concerned about whether there is a cover up here.
"People in Tighes Hill and Mayfield who have to wipe the coal dust off their window sills do not need a report to tell them that coal trains are dirtying the air.
"If this report has been doctored, this is a clear breach of trust and Minister Albanese should be held accountable for the ARTC's role", said Clr Osborne.
More information about the current Senate Inquiry into the health impacts of air quality, initiated by Greens Senator Richard DiNatale, is here: http://tinyurl.com/n5xhm4p
Contact: Lee Rhiannon 0487 350 880; Michael Osborne 0439 442 984