The federal government, as a key funder of billions of dollars of coal rail infrastructure in the Hunter Valley, should use its clout to force coal companies to cover coal rail wagons rather than push responsibility back to the NSW government, said Greens Senator and transport spokesperson Lee Rhiannon (Newcastle Herald, 6/8/12, http://tinyurl.com/9m4v267).
"Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is wrong to say covering coal wagons is a state matter," said Senator Rhiannon.
"The federal government is up to its neck in funding Hunter coal rail infrastructure. Rather than passing the buck to the NSW government, Minister Albanese could hold back from injecting more money until rail wagons are covered.
"Federal MPs, including Sharon Grierson and Joel Fitzgibbon, talk the talk about dust suppression, but they should be pushing for environmental conditions to be placed on the billions of dollars of federal funding earmarked to fund coal rail lines.
"Under questioning in Senate budget estimates, the ARTC confirmed that the federal government plans to inject an additional $3.5 billion into Hunter coal rail infrastructure to accommodate the proposed T4 coal port expansion.
"The proposed fourth coal terminal would see 41 more coal trains a day chugging past people's houses and there is little research into the health risks from ultrafine particle pollution for residents up and down the rail corridor.
"Mr Albanese should insist that funding earmarked by the ARTC for T4 rail upgrades is conditional on dust suppression, such as covering coal rail wagons and ongoing dust monitoring.
"Neither the ARTC nor Minister Albanese should be allowed to continue ducking responsibility for the health and environmental impact of coal train movements along its rail lines", said Senator Rhiannon.