MTAG has highlighted the lack of initiatives to deal with the impact of port related air pollution on school children in Melbourne’s inner west. We are calling on both Government and the Port of Melbourne to follow the lead of progressive ports such as California’s Port of Long Beach.
The Port of Long Beach tweeted on 3rd March that it funds air-filtration systems in local schools to help student breathe easier. This port, along with the neighbouring Port of Los Angeles, has cut diesel pollution by 90% through initiatives such as a Clean Truck Program, onshore power for ships and massive investment into freight on rail. These initiatives form part of its Clean Air Action Plan.
Here in Melbourne’s Inner West, after over 15 years of campaigning the Port of Melbourne won’t even admit there’s a problem. We have the highest rate of hospital admissions for respiratory illness in children and yet truck numbers and associated diesel pollution is steadily rising. The Western Distributor is six years away and even then there are no guarantees it won’t make the situation worse on some streets.
Listen below to MTAG’s Martin Wurt on ABC Radio Melbourne highlighting the appalling lack of action in Melbourne’s Inner West.
Not only is the Port of Long Beach investing huge amounts of money reducing air pollution but they are acknowledging and mitigating the impact on schools that their activities still have. They have spent millions on a community grant program which includes the upgrading or installation of air filtration systems in a large number of local schools.
The new CEO of the Port of Melbourne claims he wants to be a responsible neighbour within the community. This means much more than having a stand at festivals and sponsoring local movie nights. The Port of Melbourne needs to acknowledge the environmental and health impacts its operations are having on neighbouring communities and act accordingly.