Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

A new record for Newcastle winter air quality

Media release: 24 October 2016

Air quality in the Newcastle region during the 2016 winter season was the best it has been in four years, according to the latest air quality results released by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

There were no days during winter where pollution levels spiked above national limits with levels of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, PM10 and PM 2.5 particles all remaining below benchmark concentrations.

EPA Acting Director Hunter Karen Marler said the higher than average rainfall that fell across the region this winter was significant in helping to keep pollution levels lower than in previous years.

“Pollution levels are traditionally lower during winter compared to other seasons but last year PM10 levels were over the benchmark on one day at Carrington and on three days at Stockton – that didn’t happen this year.”

“The Newcastle region experienced the third-highest winter rainfall on record for NSW this winter and, combined with the predominant north-west winds blowing offshore, helped keep pollution levels low right across the region,” Ms Marler said.

The EPA has also been involved in overseeing a range of upgrade work at Orica’s ammonium nitrate plant at Stockton aimed to reduce air emissions from the plant’s prill tower.

As part of a three-year EPA Pollution Reduction Program the company has begun using different prill heads, under different production rates and has reduced fan speeds by 80 per cent, all of which appears to be helping to reduce PM2.5 fine particles in the local area.

The EPA will continue to work with industry and the community to improve air quality across the Hunter region.

The winter air quality report captured air quality data from 1 June 2016 to 31 August 2016. Results were compiled by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and were presented at the October meeting of the EPA’s Newcastle Community Consultative Committee on the Environment.

To download a copy of the report in full visit the OEH website: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/newcastle-monitoring.htm

END 

PM10: particles less than or equal to 10 micrometres in diameter.

PM2.5: particles less than or equal to 2.5 micrometres in diameter.

The Newcastle and Hunter air quality monitoring networks: The Office of Environment and Heritage operates six air quality monitoring stations in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter and 14 across the Upper Hunter region. The network is designed to provide real time information about local air quality. The information is published in 1 hour and 24 hour intervals on the OEH website and local residents can also sign up to receive SMS alerts about their local air quality. More information is available on the OEH website.

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 24 October 2016