Review of Upper Hunter air quality data

To assist NSW Health in its review of community concerns that air pollutants from coal mining and power generation in the Upper Hunter are impacting on health, the then Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) prepared a document titled Compendium of Upper Hunter Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Data (UpperHunterAirQualityData.pdf, 2.3MB). The compendium presents air quality monitoring data from industry monitoring sites for the period 2005-2009.

The coal mining and power generation industries are required to monitor ambient air quality as a condition of development consents issued by the Department of Planning and/or an environment protection licence issued by the Environment Protection Authority. These conditions often require industry to sample stack emissions and monitor concentrations of ambient air pollutants at locations close to the industry site and at nearby residences.

Data on stack emissions of metals from Liddell and Bayswater Power Stations were compiled and compared to the permissible emission limits for new plant in the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2002.

The compendium presents ambient monitoring data for particles (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) using the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure (Ambient Air Quality NEPM) standards of concentration as a benchmark.

Ambient data for particles (PM2.5) sourced from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation monitoring site at Muswellbrook is also presented, using the Ambient Air Quality NEPM advisory reporting standard for PM2.5 as a benchmark. It should be noted that there is currently no NEPM standard of concentration or goal for PM2.5 other than for the purposes of data collection.

The monitoring sites reported in the compendium are not NEPM sites and they were not established to comply with the location requirements specified in the Ambient Air Quality NEPM. Their location does not necessarily reflect the air quality likely to be experienced by the general population in the region.

A new monitoring network is being established in the Upper Hunter that will consist of up to 14 high-quality ambient air quality monitoring stations located in strategic locations around mining areas and population centres to give accurate, quality assured and up-to-date data to the community on regional air quality.  When fully operational the air quality data, as well as data on wind speed and direction, will be up-dated on the website hourly to provide a continuous information stream to the community, industry and government.

Unlike current monitoring which is largely associated with monitoring the operation of specific mining or industrial applications and is generally not readily accessible, this new data stream will give a clearer picture of the regional air quality which the general community experiences in real time as well as providing information that can be used to identify the cause of any change in air quality and to help identify the major sources of particles in the region.

The Compendium of Upper Hunter Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Data has been amended. The report dated 18 May 2010 is repealed. The current version of the report is dated 15 February 2011. Amendments in the current report are: total suspended particulate data erroneously reported as PM10 at site ID 48, 49, 50 and 51 removed; site ID 48, 49, 50 and 51 removed from PM10 maps (Figures 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4 and 3-5); and additional PM10 monitoring sites, site ID 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75 added. All PM10 monitoring data has been retained in the revised report.

Page last updated: 13 November 2015