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Aussie doctors oppose NZ coal mine

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Two Australian doctors have shown opposition for a new open cast coal mine in Waikato, New Zealand.


The two doctors sent submissions to the consent hearings that the open cast coal mine would have extremely negative health impacts on Mangatawhiri residents.

Dr Tuan Au, a GP from New South Wales, has practiced for 17 years in Singleton and said health should be top priority when making decisions, stuff.co.nz reported.


Singleton has 24 open cast coal mines and three coal-fired power plants.


Au researched the lung capacity of 680 primary and secondary school students over two months in 2009 and concluded one out of six children’s lung function was 20 per cent lower than average.

“We have had a dust monitor for the past few years and one of the observations we’ve made with poor air quality...a few days later you have an increase of kids coming with asthma or people with sinus and respiratory illness.”

Au said more research needs to be done because there was inadequate research before coal mining operations started running in the Hunter region. 

This means studying the effects is difficult.

“The conclusion is we need to do more study. We should take into account the long-term impact on health.”

Dr Ben Ewald from Newcastle University school of medicine and public health was the other doctor to oppose the mine in New Zealand.

He examined the human health risk assessment (HHRA) given to the panel by Golder Associates and did not agree with it.

“There has been considerable research over the last two decades showing the adverse impacts on health from exposure to particulate air pollution,” he wrote.

“The health burden from the proposed mine could well be greater than those stated in the HHRA due to the unacknowledged uncertainties of exposure modelling, and experience from the Hunter Valley shows health impacts from similar mines.”

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