Australia’s leading cancer treatment, research and education institute, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, has highlighted diesel pollution and particularly truck numbers in the City of Maribyrnong as a major health concern in a government submission. The submission, titled ‘Clean air. Less cancer’ is a response to a government discussion paper on a proposed National Clean Air Agreement.
The report names diesel emissions as a high priority air quality issue due to their classification as a class 1 carcinogen. The City of Maribyrnong is used as an example of a diesel pollution hot spot ‘which records 21,000 trucks a day, the majority of which travel on residential streets’. The submission then goes on to recommend ‘curfews for trucks using routes in high density/urban areas.’
The report highlights that 50% of trucks in Australian cities are old highly polluting pre-1995 models that each emit the same particulate matter as sixty post 2007 trucks’ and recommends the ‘reducing and phasing out of older trucks.’
To have a respected cancer hospital such as the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre highlight this as a major cancer risk is incredibly scary for residents of the inner west. But at the same time this substantiates MTAG’s position over the past decade that trucks must be moved away from residential areas and particularly schools, kindergartens and child care centres. The EPA have measured diesel pollution levels on Francis Street Yarraville that exceeds current air quality standards. There is no safe level of exposure to diesel pollution.
The authors of this report are some of Australia’s most eminent lung cancer physicians who understand lung cancer, the causes and risks. This report really highlights that much more needs to be done now. We can’t wait five plus years before the Western Distributor is built. The health cost to this community will already be too high.
The submission also highlights the vulnerability of children at school saying ‘Metropolitan school children are exposed to a particularly high amount of particles during their commute to school and outdoor school activities.’
This is clearly the case in the City of Maribyrnong. Wembley Primary school children are crossing Francis Street, in front of rows of idling trucks, every morning and afternoon. They desperately need a school crossing time truck curfew. On Somerville Road trucks idle at traffic lights outside St Augustines Primary only metres from children playing in the school playground.
We need dedicated truck infrastructure built as quickly as possible and immediate interim measures including additional and extended truck curfews to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
MTAG urges VicRoads, the EPA, Department of Health and Maribyrnong Council to reconvene the Trucks Inner West Working Group as soon as possible to look at more short-term measures to address truck traffic in the City of Maribyrnong.
This submission shows that tackling the truck issue in Melbourne’s inner west is both urgent and necessary to protect our health.
Download the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre submission here
Watch a channel 7 news story about the submission here