One hundred and twenty-two medical practitioners have signed an open letter calling on a charity to withdraw its plans to build a massive open cut mine on the Arthurs Seat near schools and childcare.
The open letter, published in The Age newspaper on Monday 25 October, calls on a philanthropic trust, The Ross Trust, to withdraw its controversial quarry plans.
The doctors – who include respiratory and allergy specialists, eight paediatricians and 29 local general practitioners – write that
“thousands of local children would grow from toddlers to teenagers near this quarry.”
The boundary of The Ross Trust’s proposed quarry site is just 800m from local primary school, Red Hill Consolidated School, and 850m from an early learning centre. Other
schools are near the quarry site: Dromana Secondary College is within 1.6km, Peninsula Specialist College is within 1.7km and Red Hill Preschool is within 1.8km.
In a heavily referenced letter, the doctors write that
“children and infants are particularly vulnerable to air pollution… Other particularly vulnerable groups include: the elderly, pregnant women, smokers and those with existing respiratory disease or cardiovascular disease”.
The open letter is also addressed to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Treasurer Tim Pallas and Ministers James Merlino, Richard Wynne, Martin Foley, Ingrid Stitt and Jacinta Allan, with the doctors asking these political leaders to “please help to stop this proposed quarry from going ahead”.
Dr David Bannister is a Paediatric Allergist who has worked on the Mornington Peninsula for more than 40 years. He co-authored the letter with a Mornington Peninsula Anaesthetist Dr Wilga Kottek. Both gathered medical signatures. Dr Bannister said:
“The 122 doctors who signed this letter hope it will open people’s eyes and hopefully even shock them about the potential risks. I was certainly very shocked as I researched the issue,”
“The fact is there is enough evidence to be very concerned about the potential dangers, particularly to the most vulnerable in our community: infants, children, the elderly, pregnant women, smokers and those with existing respiratory disease or cardiovascular disease.
“The question for the Ross Trust and the Victorian Government is a simple one: with so much uncertainty, why play roulette with our children’s health?”
Dr Kottek said,
“This mine risks exposing the community to an anticipated 70 to 100 years of breathing in fine rock dust particles. I believe that there are no safe levels of exposure to these particles. Why would you potentially risk the health of generations of people living in this area?”
The Ross Trust’s stated mission is “to promote positive social and environmental change so Victorians can thrive”. Dr Kottek said,
“I cannot understand why a philanthropic group that has had the good-will of the community for over 50 years, would relentlessly pursue a proposal to build the biggest industrial site on the Mornington Peninsula within a beautiful Green Wedge zone.”
The Ross Trust’s new quarry proposal has already drawn major criticism from leaders in the philanthropic, environmental and business sectors on environmental grounds. Additionally more than 80,000 people have signed a Save Arthurs Seat change.org petition opposing the new quarry.