Image for A Cry from the Heart – Our air quality

It has been confirmed by the EPA that not only our planned burn smoke, but planned burn smoke from Victoria as well, has been filling our lungs!

You can access the EPA’s smoke analysis that was released six and a half months after the March 17 event at:

http://www.environment.tas.gov.au/?base=7529

In brief the report says:
“The widespread smoke event that affected nothern Tasmania on the 17th of March 2010 was studied using air quality measurements, satellite images, and Bureau of Meteorology data and analysis. Planned burns conducted in Tasmania and Victoria were investigated as possible sources of the smoke.
From a consideration of the relative time of onset of the smoke at the various air stations, the observed northerly wind change co–incident with smoke onset, satellite imagery, and air–parcel trajectory analysis, it is concluded the smoke was from planned burns conducted in Victoria in the three to four days preceeding the 17th of March.”

I guess our planned burners think mainland smoke coming into Tasmania is great news because it takes the blame away from them. It seems they are always looking for reasons to shift the blame so they can keep burning. They blame wood heaters, back yard burns, you name it everyone else but themselves.

But hang on a minute. Have a look at these latest EPA figures:

Research released late in 2009, “…concludes that particle emissions to the Tasmanian Airshed from planned burning were grossly understated and are between 330 and 460 times greater than was reported in the 2006 Strategy.”

“Emissions from forestry planned burns equate to a range from 86,000 to 120,000 tonnes of particle emissions per year rather than the 260 tonnes erroneously reported and compares with 5,000 tonnes produced by wood heaters.”

“18,000 ha of ‘heavy fuel’ burns conducted by the Tasmanian forest industry in 2008 can be estimated to have consumed approximately 7.2 million tonnes of wood.”

You can access the full report at http://www.environment.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=7609

On top of the planned burn smoke from the mainland, and our local forest industries and Parks and Wildlife Service, we have additional pollution being generated by the Tas. Fire Service, councils, farmers, land owners and home owners.

No wonder our Forest Practices Authority’s Coordinated Smoke Management Strategy trial (CSMS) has become known as the Uncoordinated Smoke Management Strategy. This is exactly what it is

The air quality monitors do not catch all of the smoke. People living in valleys adjacent to air stations can be struggling for breath and yet we are told our air quality is up to scratch. The burning needs to be controlled at the source.

Airsheds used by burners do not relate to populated areas.

What about our Director of Public and Environmental Health telling us to stay indoors or to visit a public building that actually sucks quantities of ‘fresh’ make-up air into the building?

Don’t any of these people know or care that inside air quality is governed by our ambient outside air quality. What about our civil liberties being taken away?

Lives are being shortened by this steady stream of smoke being forced on us over many years now and it can be shown we are being shunted from one department to another and back again.

We are not only sick because of toxic planned burn smoke, we are sick of being told by agencies that meet together and ‘approve’ these burning practices that, “we do not have any regulatory control over the smoke or the burns.”

There are enough proven smokeless methods available to get rid of wood waste. Why does Tasmania have to be the dumping ground for planned burn smoke?

We need one responsible body to look after air quality in Tasmania with the power to enforce provisions and this cannot be the forest industries or the FPA.

The Environment Management Pollution Control Act (EMPCA -1994) is meant to be the over-riding environmental pollution control act in Tasmania. It is administered by the EPA but it is now claimed I believe (on advice from the Department of Public Prosecutions) the EPA will not prosecute planned burners.

There are too many Acts, Codes and Regulations and too many agencies trying to administer their ‘own little patch.’

ALL particle matter needs to be taken into air calculations before people are allowed to burn and this includes Pm from interstate.

We need a ‘whole of state’ airshed that protects all Tasmanians.

Small airshed have been designed to suit planned burners needs. Eleven were created/recognised for the Forest Practices Authority’s CSMS trial.

If smoke or another polluting event does take place it must be immediately contained. Pm levels must not be allowed to exceed air standards at the burner’s boundary and there must be no exemptions given.

Tasmania has the highest rates of asthma and non-skin cancers in Australia.

Now it has been confirmed that this pernicious planned burn smoke is also coming into Tasmania from the mainland our federal and state politicians must act on this problem.

For the health of all Tasmanians we need a Smoke Trespass Act.