Air whistleblower 'wrong': Dept

THE allegations that the Clean and Healthy Air for Gladstone report (CHAG) may be fraudulent is misleading and wrong, according to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).

A DERM spokesperson said in the case of exposure to air pollutants, many health risk assessments use air dispersion modelling to predict or estimate the ground level concentrations for the pollutants of concern.

“The air quality monitoring program measured an extensive range of air pollutants at multiple sites across the area for a 12-month period, providing an excellent basis for health risk assessment of pollutants in ambient air, for the community in Gladstone,” the spokesperson said.

An air quality scientist-come-whistleblower alleges data is being fabricated and fraudulently provided to regulatory bodies and is going unchecked by the government.

According to media reports the scientist alleges that shortcuts were “habitually taken” when testing for air pollution from smokestacks during his three-year tenure with the company.

“Data based on the results of stack testing, generally undertaken by industry contractors, is being used in the air quality model being developed by the department,” the DERM spokesperson said.

“This data has been validated to the extent possible through the industry benchmarking process and, where there were apparent inconsistencies, decisive action was taken.”

The spokesperson said outputs from the model will also be validated against the ambient air monitoring results in order to confirm the reliability of the input data and the model itself.

“In addition to the Human Health Risk assessment, DERM benchmarked the emission data reported by industry against comparable industries in Queensland, Australia and overseas and cross checked with industry emission reports to ensure accuracy,” he said.

“Where inconsistencies were identified, the department acted decisively as in the case of the Boyne Smelters Environmental Evaluation.

“It should be noted that providing the department with false or misleading information is an offence,” the spokesperson said.

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