Stop North East Link Alliance

Health

Introduction

People living, working and engaging in recreational activities near the North East Link and the expanded Eastern Freeway will be subject to both air and noise pollution which could cause severe health problems.

The following “Pollution” information detailed below includes:

  • Failure to comply with air quality Legislated State Environmental Protection Policy (SEPP).
  • Worsened pollution health consequences caused by a valley topography on Eastern Freeway and other surface road sections of NEL.
  • Diesel fuel from cars and trucks being the worst contributor to fine particles pollution a known Group 1 Carcinogen.
  • Failure to filter tunnel vent stacks.
  • Road Traffic Noise Limits that will breach the NELP Scoping Requirements for both Daytime and Night Time.
  • The loss of 26,000 mature trees and public open space.
  • EPA Vic failure to enforce SEPP pollution compliance caused by NEL.

Air Pollution from Vehicles on the North East Link (NEL) Surface Roads (Excluding Tunnel Section)

Those who live in proximity to the Eastern Freeway & Greensborough surface roads, could have their respiratory health significantly impacted as a direct consequence of the NEL project. A substantial increase in vehicle numbers is predicted for the NEL project to total approximately 300,000 vehicles per day.

One of the reasons for a heightened adverse health effect is the topography of the Eastern Freeway reservation. It is essentially a valley which entraps pollution under certain climatic conditions like low wind speed and temperature inversion. It is of particular concern that the State Environmental Protection Policy (SEPP AAQ) for particulate emissions PM10 & PM2.5 are being exceeded on the Eastern Freeway at current traffic levels.

Of special note also, is the fact that no proper SEPP AQM impact study was done in the Environment Effects Statement for the NEL Project. The EPA chose to do a “quazie” air quality impact study in the EES which has resulted in a process to hide SEPP pollution non-compliance for NEL. A proper SEPP AQM impact study should have been done for the EES, and still needs to be done, as recommended by Dr Ian Cowan in his submission to the NEL Panel Hearing.

The North East Link Project is currently collecting air quality data at five locations on the North East Link corridor including sites at Bellevue Primary School in Balwyn North, Trinity College in Bulleen, at the corner of Middleborough Road and the Eastern Freeway, the corner of Lower Plenty Road and the Greensborough Bypass and at the corner of Grimshaw Street and the Greensborough Bypass.

North East Link Health Impact

The World Health Organization say the only safe level of Air Quality fine particle pollution is zero. The threat to human health posed by this particulate matter lies in its ability to penetrate bodily functions. This is especially the case with PM 2.5 particulate matter which can penetrate the lungs more deeply than PM10. These particles precipitate a wide range of health conditions, including premature death. Recent monitoring of air quality data for the period May to August 2019, showed significantly the worst air quality to be at Bellevue Primary School in Balwyn North. As noted, most trucks and other heavy road vehicles use diesel. Diesel exhaust emissions are a declared Group 1 carcinogen. Various “gasses” pollutants, brake dust and tyre dust are also contributors to pollution from vehicles impacting health. Diesel emissions have been implicated in elevated risks of lung, bladder, liver, stomach and other organ cancers, and in an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. Deaths from vehicle pollution in Australia total approximately 1700 per annum, compared to deaths from vehicle road accidents about 1300 per annum.

Road traffic noise from cars and trucks will exceed Scoping Requirements for the NEL Project. The EES has identified that the 63 dB(A) daytime noise limit will be breached at 155 properties. Night time noise limits will also exceed the NEL Scoping Requirements by a massive amount.