EPA report disappoints anti-truck campaigners

First quarterly report from Victorian Government environment body shows pollution measures almost always within acceptable levels

October 9, 2012

Victoria’s environmental watchdog has presented a mixed outcome for campaigners seeking to shift Melbourne’s port-related truck traffic from inner-western suburbs.

EPA Victoria is conducting a year-long monitoring program for air pollution and noise impacts on Francis Street in Yarraville and is reporting quarterly on its findings.

Francis Street truck traffic is a focus on one of the most fractious interfaces between trucking and a community in the country.

One of the major planks of the campaign, air pollution, fell within air quality standards for all but one day of the quarter from May to August and then for only one of four measures.

However, noise levels on the street that is estimated at hosting 20,000 trucks and cars a week between Williamstown Road and Whitehall Street did lead to readings "high enough to be of significant concern".

These are being measured in fortnightly blocks periodically.

These were found to sit between 70 and 80 decibels in an 18-hour daily measurement period, "which is sometimes known as the ‘average maximum’ noise level", the report states.

It adds that, in Victoria, "there is no official assessment criteria for arterial roads constructed prior to 1979 such as Francis Street".

For air, the EPA measures emission particles of less than 10 micrometres (PM10) , which is also found in wind-blown dust, and particles of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5), along with nitrogen dioxide and benzopyrene.

The PM10 level spiked on June 12 for about three hours before midday.

"During this period there were light northerly winds with poor dispersion in the morning, which contributed to an accumulation of particles," the report states.

Graphs show Yarraville reading generally spiking higher than Footscray or Alphington, with some of those spikes very near the EPA’s air quality goals as set out in the State Environmental Protection Policy (Ambient Air Quality), which also measures nitrogen dioxide.

PM2.5 readings were comfortably within the advisory reporting standard, as measured by the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure, while benzopyrene, which is also found in cigarettes, is assessed against the National Environment Protection (Air Toxics) Measure.

The report found that both benzopyrene and nitrogen dioxide levels averaged at between 30 percent and 40 percent, approximately, of air quality objective limits.

Leading residents pressure group, the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group
accused the EPA of failing Yarraville residents.

"Pollution levels two to three times higher than rest of Melbourne called ‘slightly higher’?" it says.

"What happened to the EPA's mission to ‘protect the environment’?

"It looks like the EPA just doesn't want to rattle the government's cage."

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