A watered-down version of Greens Councillor Irene Doutney’s motion over the East Sydney exhaust stack was carried last Monday.
Council unanimously supported the motion to monitor Eastern Distributor emissions and create open green space in East Sydney, but only after Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s request to amend it turned the action steps into a report request for the CEO.
“I was disappointed,” Cr Doutney said, but added she believed the report would still move the City in the right direction.
A City of Sydney spokesperson said the report would “address suggestions to rezone the land, plant new trees and shrubs, and options for potentially creating a community garden on the RTA land on the north side of Stanley Street.”
“Council staff are also investigating options to report back to Council on methods of monitoring and filtering emissions from the Eastern Distributor stack,” the spokesperson said.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she supported all environmental issues.
“Air quality is a serious health concern and we should collect comprehensive data, filter all road tunnels and replace car dependence with public transport, walking and cycling,” she said.
On another front, Greens MLC Sylvia Hale submitted questions in State Parliament aimed at discovering how public health has been factored into RTA and state decisions concerning Sydney’s tunnels.
“We find … there is a sheer lack of information,” Ms Hale said.
In recent statements, the RTA claimed air quality within the Eastern Distributor met “some of the toughest air quality standards in the world.”
But the RTA has not made the data to back this up publicly available since just after opening the tunnel.
Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard pointed to the need for this data to clarify the issues.
“We don’t have evidence,” Cr Mallard said. “We ultimately need the science.”
That science is changing.
Many older reports use inaccurate particulate matter (PM) size measurements.
Studies show the soot like substance contains cancer causing agents and can create problems for those with respiratory conditions.
Mark Curran, of Residents Against Polluting Stacks (RAPS) said the old measurements were no longer relevant.
“The measurements were designed to measure pollution that was as thick as 10 microns. Over the years the particles have gotten smaller. So detection for 10 micron particles is inaccurate,” he said.
“The smaller the particle the more harmful because it gets more deeply in the lungs and goes directly into the blood stream.”
City News contacted the RTA for additional comment, but a response was not received before deadline.
The rally to Attack the Stack is at 3:30 PM this Sunday, May 23rd at Stanley and Palmer Streets during the Primo Italiano Festival.
By Ken Robinson