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ZIGZIGLAR
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[*] posted on 24-2-2014 at 21:56
Health effects - Coal smoke


There is an uncontrolable (abandoned) Coal mine fire 1km away from my house and the. The fire has caused massive rifts to develop exposing a practically endless source of coal for the fire to burn. Firefighting efforts almost seem in vain as the Government and mine owners are refusing to invest the necessary resources to extinguish the fires.

The town is on voluntary evacuation notice (limited funding to low income earners to assist with extra travel etc) and day refuges have been set up in neighbouring towns.

The government appears to be going to great lengths to cover up any real data from being released and is focusing more on preventing panic than being honest about the health effects.

This might be a long shot, but does anyone know what possible long term health effects could arise from months of daily exposure to thick black and brown coal smoke?

I expect this unfiltered smoke burnt below normal furance temperatures will be sending lots of unsavoury particulates in high quantities, like carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and a lot of dangerous metals etc. Possibly carcinogens.

It's too easy to use ignorance or vague statements to keep the public from knowing the truth.

Any help would be much appreciated. Cheers
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[*] posted on 25-2-2014 at 01:16


Better question is what won't it do to you. All bad. Is this the Centralia mine fire?




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[*] posted on 25-2-2014 at 06:42


Coincidentally, I'm currently reading <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Underground-Ongoing-Tragedy-Centralia/dp/0762754273/" target="_blank"><em>Fire Underground</em></a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />, a book on the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia_mine_fire" target="_blank">Centralia mine fire</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />. From this, and my other reading on the subject, I can tell you that CO and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidence" target="_blank">subsidence</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> are the primary hazards of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_seam_fire" target="_blank">coal seam fires</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />.



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ZIGZIGLAR
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[*] posted on 25-2-2014 at 13:04


It's not the Centralia mine fire, but another over here in Australia. This one started only 3 weeks ago. They have already had issues over the past 10 years with subsidence affecting neighbouring roads - they even had to shut down one of the biggest freeways a couple of years ago - it was reopened after 6 months.

They aren't really bothering with dousing the fire due to fears of subsidence causing bigger issues than the smoke, but it's becoming difficult to comfortably live in the town (it's a small town of around 15,000 people). I don't think carbon monoxide is a real threat at the moment, but the terrible air quality is making a lot of people sick and making people's houses dirty etc.

When I took my dog to the vet recently, they told me they had numerous cases of dogs with chemical burns from coal ash settling on their coats. Doesn't sound like Co is the only health hazard ...
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[*] posted on 25-2-2014 at 14:11


Oh, so are we discussing the Hazelwood open-cut coal mine fire? There are different <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#Types" target="_blank">types of coal</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />, which can vary greatly from locale to locale and even between seams at the same location. The different grades contain varying levels of sulphur, heavy metals, etc., and it would be impossible to even attempt to discuss potential health effects in any legitimate sense without first knowing the precise composition of the coal and conditions of the fire. According to what I've just read, the coal that's burning in Morwell, which you may know as "brown coal," is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignite" target="_blank">lignite</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />.

Interestingly tidbit from Wikipedia regarding a 1902 coal fire near Morwell:<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_seam_fire#Australia" target="_blank">
Quote:
Morwell, Victoria - the Great Morwell open cut mine caught fire in March 1902 and burned for over a month. It was extinguished by breaching the nearby Morwell River with explosives to flood the mine. The fire was found to have been caused by sabotage from incendiary devices. <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />
</a>What makes this particularly interesting, is that they now suspect the Hazelwood fire to have been intentionally and maliciously set, just like the 1902 Morwell fire.<a href="http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/police-believe-hazelwood-open-cut-mine-fire-was-started-deliberately/story-fni0fee2-1226837051659" target="_blank">
Quote:
The fire, which has been burning for more than two weeks, has been investigated by an arson chemist and is now being treated as suspicious. <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />
</a>As for potential health effects, your first resource should be your <a href="http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/aq-latrobe-valley-mine-fire" target="_blank">EPA, who are already monitoring air quality</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" /> in the affected area. If you have specific questions, you should consider contacting them directly, before asking here (they're experts, we're not). By the way, I never said that CO was the <em>only</em> hazard; I said that it was one of the <em>primary</em> hazards. Finally, please forgive my excitement over this subject&mdash;it's one that <a href="viewthread.php?tid=28664&goto=search&pid=318403">interests</a> me greatly&mdash;don't mistake it for lack of empathy/sympathy.

[edit] <a href="http://youtu.be/KgJoPpkWJgY" target="_blank">Firefighters turn their focus on Morwell</a> <img src="../scipics/_yt.png" />

<a href="http://youtu.be/eTGHFjFpJRA" target="_blank">centralia coal fire</a> <img src="../scipics/_yt.png" />

[Edited on 2.3.14 by bfesser]




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[*] posted on 25-2-2014 at 14:25


Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
Oh, so are we discussing the Hazelwood open-cut coal mine fire? There are different <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#Types" target="_blank">types of coal</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />, which can vary greatly from locale to locale and even between seams at the same location. The different grades contain varying levels of sulphur, heavy metals, etc., and it would be impossible to even attempt to discuss potential health effects in any legitimate sense without first knowing the precise composition of the coal and conditions of the fire. According to what I've just read, the coal that's burning in Morwell, which you may know as "brown coal", is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignite" target="_blank">lignite</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />.

Interestingly tidbit from Wikipedia regarding a 1902 coal fire near Morwell:<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_seam_fire#Australia" target="_blank">
Quote:
Morwell, Victoria - the Great Morwell open cut mine caught fire in March 1902 and burned for over a month. It was extinguished by breaching the nearby Morwell River with explosives to flood the mine. The fire was found to have been caused by sabotage from incendiary devices. <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />
</a>What makes this particularly interesting, is that they now suspect the Hazelwood fire to have been intentionally and maliciously set, just like the 1902 Morwell fire.<a href="http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/police-believe-hazelwood-open-cut-mine-fire-was-started-deliberately/story-fni0fee2-1226837051659" target="_blank">
Quote:
The fire, which has been burning for more than two weeks, has been investigated by an arson chemist and is now being treated as suspicious. <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />
</a>As for potential health effects, your first resource should be your <a href="http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/aq-latrobe-valley-mine-fire" target="_blank">EPA, who are already monitoring air quality</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" /> in the affected area. If you have specific questions, you should consider contacting them directly, before asking here (they're experts, we're not). By the way, I never said that CO was the <em>only</em> hazard; I said that it was one of the <em>primary</em> hazards. Finally, please forgive my excitement over this subject&mdash;it's one that <a href="viewthread.php?tid=28664&goto=search&pid=318403">interests</a> me greatly&mdash;don't mistake it for lack of empathy/sympathy.


Thanks for your reponse. I'm not at all offended by your interest in the topic. My main goal is to learn more about the implications this has on my community as the Government (who I ironically work for) is censoring publically available information. A great article revealing a lot of interesting facts/secrets from a retired EPA worker was recently shared via links on FB. Not even hours later the links were all dead.

The EPA is releasing diluted/semi useless information, as I mentioned. From what I understand, they have air quality weather stations spread throughout the region, only 3 of which are actually IN Morwell and only 1 in the actual township. The emissions from a coal seam mine can vary dramatically across the surface of the mine, let alone kilometres away, so it's pretty useless data.

What we really need is an emission analysis representing the worst case - ie measured closer to the source. It would make more sense to analyse this. Also, I don't actually believe the data that is being shared - I kept my eye on it every day for the past week and despite maintaining the data table to show the time and date it had been updated, the figures haven't changed, which is just not possible - even the slightest wind change would affect toxic gas concentrations or air quality in general. The human eye can even see clearly that the smoke density changes countless times a day.

I think the Goverment is dramatically down-playing the whole event because it has little intention of investing the necessary resources to extinguish the fire, which means it is likely to penetrate even deeper into the coal seams and become even more difficult to control.

The 1902 flooding will never be repeated - the ecological damage it had was devistating. Even to this day, the Morwell river is heavily impacted. The 2006 fire was not as wide spread as the current one and also, on a political level, there was more Government interest in apeasing the general public at this time because there was a lot of pressure to shut down Hazelwood power station due to it being the most polluting station in the first world.

I'm trying to assist a colleague who is a journalist and law student with some research to try and get the authorities telling the truth and equip the community with some facts so that the pressure to act rises to a point that it can't be ignored.

The problem with "long term health effects" is that humans are very present minded and the Government seems pretty comfortable dismissing this issue with a stance of ignorance - ie "we don't forsee there being any".
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[*] posted on 2-3-2014 at 14:15


ZIGZIGLAR, do you have any updates to report first-hand? Have you collected any ash samples for analysis?

<a href="http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/morwell-residents-demand-action-over-hazelwood-mine-fire-at-rally-20140302-33tzk.html" target="_blank">Morwell residents demand action over Hazelwood mine fire at rally</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />
<a href="http://www.newsweek.com/coal-mine-fire-still-burning-after-weeks-looks-mordor-fills-australian-town-smoke-230557" target="_blank">Coal Mine Fire Still Burning After Weeks Looks Like Mordor, Fills Australian Town With Smoke</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />
<a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-28/speculation-napthine-to-announce-partial-evacuation-of-morwell/5289992" target="_blank">Morwell mine fire: Premier Denis Napthine backs Victorian health officer's decision on warning</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />

<a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/02/28/mine-fire-in-australia-makes-the-countryside-look-like-mount-doom/" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.scimad.org/users/bfesser/hazelwood_fire_by_night.jpg" width="300" /></a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" valign="top" />

[edit]
<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/01/pictures/130108-centralia-mine-fire/" target="_blank">Pictures: Centralia Mine Fire, at 50, Still Burns With Meaning</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />

[Edited on 2.3.14 by bfesser]




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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 16:50


G'day: I have not collected a sample in the end because an independent party has been recruited to do so already. I'm just awaiting the results. Also as public awareness and civil unrest grows, the Government is releasing more information. Such as the link between the PM2.5 particles and p53 mutations (affecting tumour suppression) and an increase in indisposition to lung cancers. These particles are known to remain entrapped in lung cells indefinitely, like asbestos.

As more of the general public begin to understand the possible implications this has, the more pressure is being placed on practical action being taken, regardless of cost. There has been mention that the fires are close to being fully extinguished, but I've lost what little faith I once had in being told the absolute truth.

If they have been telling the truth, then I am more concerned because I can infer that the people we trust to protect us from such catastrophes have no idea what they are dealing with. So far their only method of managing the fires has been with fire trucks and helicopter water bombing. I'm sure I'm not alone in observing that this could lead to significant subsidence and also potentially not properly douse the fires if they have penetrated coal seams under ground.
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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 16:50


G'day: I have not collected a sample in the end because an independent party has been recruited to do so already. I'm just awaiting the results. Also as public awareness and civil unrest grows, the Government is releasing more information. Such as the link between the PM2.5 particles and p53 mutations (affecting tumour suppression) and an increase in indisposition to lung cancers. These particles are known to remain entrapped in lung cells indefinitely, like asbestos.

As more of the general public begin to understand the possible implications this has, the more pressure is being placed on practical action being taken, regardless of cost. There has been mention that the fires are close to being fully extinguished, but I've lost what little faith I once had in being told the absolute truth.

If they have been telling the truth, then I am more concerned because I can infer that the people we trust to protect us from such catastrophes have no idea what they are dealing with. So far their only method of managing the fires has been with fire trucks and helicopter water bombing. I'm sure I'm not alone in observing that this could lead to significant subsidence and also potentially not properly douse the fires if they have penetrated coal seams under ground.
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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 17:00


I should add that the Governement is providing funding for the evacuation of certain designated areas that are closest to the mine. This assistance, however, is only available to low income earners (family incomes less than $47,000 (which is well below average here) and does not help those who are essentially equally at risk but live a km or so further away. The carcinogenic particles are equally of concern for those in neighbouring towns, so those nearby citizens have a lot of unanswered demands too.

To give you an indication of how bad it is about 5km away (my house). I cannot let my children outside - even on days where there is no notable smoke due to wind direction - because absolutely everything is covered in ash, even the grass. On clear nights it's not uncommon for me to wake up coughing because the wind has changed and smoke has permeated into my bedroom.

I am constantly sick or feeling malaise and so are my kids, who are also driving my wife and I nuts because they are bored of being indoors. The face masks issued to us are essentially disposable dust masks and provide no protection from gases, let alone PM2.5 or even PM10 particles and become essentially useless after a couple of days use anyway.
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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 17:54


This quote from the EPA should give you a better idea of what I'm talking about above.

"Further investigation into some of the more harmful substances in smoke is being undertaken, but there is currently no reason to expect the smoke from the Hazelwood mine to be significantly different from smoke from other coal sources."

What other coal sources are commonly producing smoke that we are exposed to!? None. The pollution from the power station itself is heavily filtered prior to being exhausted - it is also thoroughly combusted prior to leaving the chimneys. I don't even think they are referring to this anyway, but rather, just making a useless statement that people can interpret as useful if they use their imagination.
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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 21:15


It seems like the fix would be simple enough. Everywhere that smoke is coming from the ground, insert dynamite and collapse that opening. No venting chimneys...equals no more lit fireplace. Smother it.
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 20:56


Its an open cast mine, so the fix is not that simple.



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[*] posted on 7-3-2014 at 00:27


Operation Slime would be the next measure, with aerial deployment of drilling mud powder mix during a rainstorm. Once the area is about half a foot deep in slime, then comes the month duration artillery barrage and bombing practice exercises :D Slime it good and pound it in, that ought to do the trick. :D
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[*] posted on 7-3-2014 at 14:59


Australian authorities are spineless, they will always prefer the wait and see approach (coupled with expert political/public relations tour de force that is the trademark of Australian politicians, pretending to be doing everything whilst doing nothing). So any aggressive suggestions will be pooh hooed in favour of the 'let's just hope it rains a lot over the next few weeks'.
When that inevitably fails, never fear an inquiry will be announced (I think one already has been, ha!), so the hand wringing spineless people paid excellent public purse salaries to ACT can demurely respond to questions with 'I think it's inappropriate to comment whilst an inquiry is underway'. Two years later the inquiry will hand down it's finding, two years after that the government will finally say yes to 3/17 recommendations and everyone will be too bored and jaded and/or captivated by the next natural disaster to really become angrily reactionary to the fact that the Victorian government did little when it could have to avert the unknown long term health affects of this situation.
It's fucked and I'm so sorry for the people of Morwell, living in Melbourne I'm not very far away




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[*] posted on 7-3-2014 at 18:42


Quote: Originally posted by Panache  
Australian authorities are spineless, they will always prefer the wait and see approach (coupled with expert political/public relations tour de force that is the trademark of Australian politicians, pretending to be doing everything whilst doing nothing).


You speak the truth, however, I believe we should stay on topic at the risk of the thread derailing/being sent to detritus. I hope that this solved somehow, I'm gad I'm far away from any mines in the first place. Zigziglar, what is your plan of action? I would get out of there ASAP.




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