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Issue #1642      June 11, 2014

Call for resignations over mine fire

The Hazelwood coal mine enquiry has revealed claims by the United Fire Fighters Union national secretary Peter Marshall that health officials changed the safe level of carbon monoxide exposure from 30 part per million (ppm) to 70 ppm. Fire fighters are required to wear breathing apparatus when the levels reach 55 ppm.

The ambient air quality standard in Victoria allows a level above 9 ppm only one day per year, proving that even the lower standard of 30 ppm was not safe let alone the unjustified increase to 70 ppm. The mine fire started on February 9 and burned for 45 days blanketing the town of Morwell in toxic smoke.

Fire fighters claim they were censored from telling Morwell residents that they were exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution during the Hazelwood mine fire.

The increase in carbon monoxide exposure levels to 70 ppm were not peer reviewed and health authorities chose not to evacuate after receiving data suggesting the higher threshold had been breached.

The Voice of the Valley community organisation president Wendy Farmer says Morwell residents are furious and are calling for the resignation of the Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester and Health Minister David Davis.

Exposure standards unfortunately are set for healthy adults and do not take into consideration the children, elderly or those with existing illness. More horrendous revelations are yet to come from this enquiry.

Next article – Asylum seeker policy horrors deepen

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