NorthCon­nex health fears

Monthly Chronicle - - Letters To The Editor - Peter Ge­or­giades, Wahroonga

There is a sig­nif­i­cant body of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that breath­ing con­cen­trated diesel emis­sions is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous for hu­man health – far worse than smok­ing cig­a­rettes.

Us­ing lon­gi­tu­di­nal ven­ti­la­tion, the North­ern Stack at Wahroonga will pump con­cen­trated toxic emis­sions out from the up­hill nine kilo­me­tre tun­nel tube. These con­cen­trated emis­sions will be es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous for pupils at­tend­ing the nine schools within the one kilo­me­tre ra­dius of the North­ern Stack. Ex­pert med­i­cal sub­mis­sions made in re­sponse to sub­mis­sion re­quests for the NorthCon­nex En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact Study, raised health is­sues which have not been fully and prop­erly ad­dressed in the approval process.

As con­struc­tion has been ap­proved, it is now timely to deal with the lack of le­gal frame­work to pro­vide re­quired com­mu­nity pro­tec­tion against dan­ger­ous lev­els of ve­hi­cle emis­sions. Pro­tec­tion is re­quired for driv­ers and pas­sen­gers within the tun­nel as well as af­fected res­i­dent and school pop­u­la­tions along the tun­nel cor­ri­dor. The NSW Gov­ern­ment has in place a strong le­gal frame­work for a Work­place, Health and Safety re­spon­si­bil­ity. For all road tun­nel emis­sions, in­clud­ing NorthCon­nex, the NSW Gov­ern­ment Plan­ning process must also as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity for a duty of care for Health Safety.

It is crit­i­cal to now ac­knowl­edge that the sci­ence re­gard­ing the hu­man ex­po­sure to con­cen­trated ul­tra­fine par­tic­u­lates is very real, but has not evolved into a legally bind­ing reg­u­la­tory frame­work for the de­sign and op­er­a­tion of road tun­nels.

Also, the NSW Gov­ern­ment con­trolled clas­si­fi­ca­tion of NorthCon­nex as ‘Crit­i­cal State In­fras­truc­ture’ has re­moved the right to ini­ti­ate le­gal ac­tion to ex­pose this dis­re­gard for tun­nel safety un­der proper rules of ev­i­dence.

This lack of a le­gal reg­u­la­tory frame­work has fa­cil­i­tated approval of two road tun­nels (NorthCon­nex and WestCon­nex) where the com­mu­nity is not ad­e­quately pro­tected from health haz­ards, de­spite the con­tin­u­ing air qual­ity fail­ure of the M5 East tun­nel. And more tun­nels are pro­posed. Peo­ple are fed up.

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