Westconnex plans for toxic tunnel ventilation stacks in Haberfield

Chris Elenor

Unfiltered ventilation stacks for the Westconnex motorway are planned for Concord, Haberfield, Ashfield, Annandale and St Peters. These stacks will spew toxic emissions across wide areas of the Inner West. The widespread health impacts of the emissions include increased incidence of respiratory disease and elevated risk of cancers. The fine particles from diesel emissions from the tunnels are a particular health concern. According to a recent commentary by Adrian Barnett in the ANZ Journal of Public Health ( p. 407, 2014 vol. 38 no. 5) there is no such thing as a safe level of air pollution. He says "..the epidemiology of air pollution is simple: when average levels increase, the average health effects increase, and this association has been shown repeatedly around the world."

If the tunnel construction goes ahead there will be a permanent pall of toxic pollution over much of Haberfield and Ashfield. According to the WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA), the exact location of the stacks will be decided by the successful tenderer(s) for the multi billion toll road and tunnel project. Whilst Westconnex refuses to say anything about the location of the ventilation stacks and is playing down the potential health risks, research by local community action groups indicates ventilation stacks in the Haberfield area will be around the intersection of Parramatta Rd and Bland St, probably on the derelict Brescia site which the WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA) is planning to purchase. Haberfield Public School is in close proximity. Another ventilation stack is planned for the park lands next to the City West link. Dobroyd Point Public School is close by and St Joan of Arc School is at the intersection of the emission clouds from the two planned  ventilation stacks.

Photo is of the ventilatation stack for the M5 motorway down at Turrella. Will we have two of these massive constructions in Haberfield?

Research indicates that the effect of the toxic emissions is greatest on children and the elderly. Haberfield hosts a number of aged care facilities including  Presbyterian Aged Care on Parramatta Rd and Woodfield Nursing Home on Stanton Rd, both of which will be affected by emissions from the stacks. In addition to aging residents, there are many other community organisations such as the Ella Centre in Dalhousie St. which will be impacted by the emissions. WestConnex community action groups have been asking questions and campaigning on the issue of toxic emissions from ventilation stacks since the the release of the WestConnex concept plans in late 2013. WestConnex are currently undertaking limited air monitoring in the area and say all will be revealed after June 2015 when an Environmental Impact Statement on the WestConnex project is to be released for public comment.

So questions to WestConnex remain ignored and unanswered. -Where are they proposing to put the stacks? How big will they be? What will be the volunme of emissions? What impact will the emissions have on air quality and health in the surrounding communities? and most importantly, What are the alternative transport solutions to the $14 billion WestConnex toll tunnel madness?