By LEE McIVORlmcivor@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
CLEANING up Gladstone's coal dust problems could cost the state government millions, but the cost would be worth it, according to local residents.
A delegation from the Con-cerned Citizens for a Cleaner Gladstone has called on the state government to allocate up to $50 million of the proposed port expansion costs to cleaning up the town's coal dust problem.
Spokesperson Graham Mc-Vean said the group wanted a plan implemented to place conveyor belts within con-tainment structures, and to replace bulldozers with the more efficient method of rotational buckets to load the coal into hoppers. He said while the group was unable to meet directly with the Ministers, the current level of coal dust emissions was unacceptable to Gladstone residents and the group would continue to lobby government until the matter was addressed.
He said the issue needed to be taken seriously by government Ministers for the good of the entire town.
"The Ministers delegated the meeting to their department heads, despite the fact they were sitting just metres from us when the meeting took place.
"I hope this is not an indication of the level of interest from the government in relation to this matter,'' Mr McVean said.
Mr McVean said the concerns of the residents of Gladstone to the issue of coal dust were expressed to the five ministerial representatives.
"We informed them that the levels of coal dust emissions from the RG Tanna wharf and the coal loading facilities at Barney Point, as well as the dust coming off Queens-land Rail coal shipments travelling through town were unacceptable to the majority of Gladstone residents.''
He said while reports showed the port was operating to the world's best practice, local residents expected more.
"We told the representatives that if this was world's best practice it certainly was not good enough for Gladstone, and the emission levels accepted by CQPA needed to be reviewed urgently with a view to bringing them in line with residents' expectations,'' Mr McVean said.
Transport Minister Paul Lucas advised that not only does the port meet international environmental standards but it has had a reduction in coal dust emissions over the last 10 years.
"Reg Tanna left a legacy of a caring port that was pro-environment, pro-jobs, and pro-Gladstone and I am confident that the port will continue that legacy,'' Mr Lucas said.