City News

Suck it up people. Suck it up

By Peter Hehir

It seems what the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and the Sydney Motorway Corporation find impossible to do – that is, to post pollution results that remain up there for all the world to see – can be achieved with comparative ease by those with the skill to write the necessary algorithm.
Can’t be done?
Check out the network of pollution monitors that are beginning to pop up all over the Inner West. These comparatively inexpensive devices at just $50 installed are capable of accurately recording PM 10 and PM 2.5 particles in the surrounding air.
Not only will this network build up an accurate picture of the quality of the air we breathe but it will also provide a baseline that can be used to clearly show the marked deterioration in air quality predicted due to the emissions from the stacks.
This information will prove invaluable should it ever be necessary to take legal action against the Government.
The beauty of this citizens’ network of monitors is that residents will finally have access to real time air quality figures. Not from monitoring stations that are purposefully sited well away from pollution hot spots or situated under trees in expanses of parkland such as the one in Callan Park, but from a network of privately owned residences of people just like you and me.
A boon to those who are really concerned about the quality of the air that we breathe. Air that Glad the Impaler is hell bent on loading up with carcinogenic diesel particles from the four unfiltered exhaust stacks in Rozelle, the two in St Peters and the one in Haberfield.
Each of these will disgorge tonnes of toxic material that is generated 10 kilometres or more from the point of release. This is because Gladys Berejiklian just point-blank refuses to install filtration either in the tunnels or the stacks.
At an Inner West Council Community forum in December 2016 Andrew Mattes from the RMS insisted that the road tunnels here utilise world’s best practice and that filtration is unnecessary – that it doesn’t work anyway. Absolute rubbish!
And that unfiltered exhaust emissions just rise up and dissipate into the atmosphere. Yeah Andrew?
Then why has no satisfactory explanation ever been forthcoming for the cancer cluster that emerged in residents downwind of the M5 East stack a few years after the tunnel became operational?
The figures in the attached graph from the Department of Health are frightening.

To date the EPA has been a toothless tiger and has held fast to the line that Sydney has some of the best quality air of any major city anywhere in the world. OK. We do have better air than Faridabad, Varanasi or Kanpur. We can actually see more than a few feet in front of us.
But is that good enough? Especially when medical scientists agree that there is no safe level of air pollution and that pollution is the world’s number one killer.
It’s universally acknowledged that diesel particles smaller than 2.5 microns bypass the body’s defence mechanisms and are absorbed straight into the bloodstream. They lodge in a variety of organs, where they set about establishing a number of cancers. What’s especially galling is that these premature deaths are preventable.
Glad knows this – but she does nothing. It’s worth quoting from her 2008 speech in the NSW Parliament;
‘“Members of Parliament should examine their conscience and consider how they would feel if their children or the children of loved ones were exposed to this level of fumes every day and they were part of a government that could have put in place measures to reduce the impact of the fumes.
“It is not too late, the government can still ensure that filtration is a possibility. World’s best practice is to filter tunnels.
“Why won’t they [Labor] allow people to sleep at night, knowing their children aren’t inhaling toxins that could jeopardise their health now or in the future?”
Does this suggest that our Glad is two-faced?
That there is one rule for the constituents who live in her electorate and a significantly lesser standard for the residents of the Inner West?
That couldn’t be the case, surely?
Could she actually be that callous, that uncaring, cynical and political?
Surely not…
Her statement was made four years before the World Health Organisation publically declared diesel exhaust to be a proven carcinogen.
If you’re concerned about the quality of the air that we share and breathe; regardless of your politics and you believe that we all have a duty of care towards our children, our families, the elderly and the generations to follow, then I ask that you resolve to do two things.
Tell the Premier that if she insists on building unfiltered toll-tunnels that she heed her own words;
‘World’s best practice is to filter tunnels’.
Then get in contact with one of the resident groups in the Inner West, like Rozelle Against WestConnex (RAW) and install one of these monitors.
The life that you contribute to saving may well be your own.

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