Volume 49, No. 1, February 2015

Volume 49, No. 1, February 2015

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Technical Articles

Hazelwood open-cut coal mine fire

Fisher G., Torre, P. and Marshall A.
The Hazelwood mine re was one of the largest incidents for air quality effects in Victoria’s history. Communities throughout the Latrobe Valley were affected by smoke, especially the township of Morwell which was just a few hundred meters from the blazing coal faces. The Environment Protection Authority Victoria mounted a large scale response that involved monitoring and assessment of the effects of smoke from the re, over a period of 45 days in February and March 2014. Concentrations of contaminants in the smoke, especially PM2.5, were very high, reaching 32 times the Reporting Standard. Elevated levels of carbon monoxide also severely impacted the local community. Along with the Victorian Department of Health, and in collaboration with the re agencies and emergency response agencies, the EPA engaged in a large scale program of public information, forecasts and warnings of smoke effects.

Nitrogen dioxide exposure at early childhood centres next to high- and low-traffic roads in Aukland, New Zealand.

Clelland P., Lyne M., Salmond J.A., Chelimo C. and Dirks K.M.
New Zealand lacks licensing restrictions with regard to location of early childhood centres (ECCs) and hence, many young children may be exposed unnecessarily to high levels of traffic-related air pollution. This study aims to investigate whether there is a significant difference in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations at ECCs located along high- and low-traffic roads. It explores whether asthma medication usage (as a proxy for respiratory health impacts) while attending ECCs differs between children attending high-compared with low-traffic ECCs. Of the 21 ECCs chosen for the study, 10 ECCs and 11 ECCs were located near high- and low-traffic roads, respectively. Over a 16-week period, six NO2 diffusion tube deployments were made indoors
and in the outdoor play area at each ECC and on the near and far side of the road adjacent to each ECC. Asthma medication usage among children was recorded throughout the period of observation.

Modelling atmospheric mercury from power station in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria.

Emmerson K.M., Cope M.E., Lee S., Hibberd M. and Torre P.
This paper reports on results from a study of mercury sources and sinks in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria. The objective of the study is to investigate the contribution of the atmospheric mercury emissions from Latrobe Valley power stations compared to the other mercury sources in the region. Anthropogenic mercury is under the spotlight due to the recent (2013) Australian commitment to reduce these emissions under the Minamata Convention. The current work builds on previous CSIRO modelling that treated mercury species as transported inert tracers subject to deposition. Here, a chemistry scheme is implemented to transfer the mercury between its elemental, reactive gas and particulate phases. A demonstration model is set up for March 2005, but it could be used for any period, and also for longer decadal studies. The results show that the power stations contribute less than 1% to the total mercury concentrations modelled in the Latrobe Valley. Mercury concentrations are dominated by the atmospheric background and natural emissions from vegetation, soil and water. The maximum dry and wet deposition fluxes from the power stations emissions are predicted to be 0.24 μg/m2/month and 0.26 μg/m2/month respectively, with these maximum depositions occurring very close to the power station stacks.

AERMOD; assessment of meteorological files and comparison with Ausplume for Area Source Modelling.

Goldstone M.E.
AERMOD is an advanced Gaussian plume dispersion model promulgated by the USEPA and now adopted by the Vic EPA since January. In order to determine its suitability for use with area sources of odour an inter- comparison exercise was conducted using meteorological data developed by MM5 and TAPM. The data was compared to an original Bureau of Meteorology le and found to be more appropriate for the specific location in question. MM5 and TAPM both generate wind files that have low wind speeds in them, however a rounding error in the AERMET pre-processor can mean that the MM5 data produces an unexpectedly high number of zeros. Once accounted for and modelled in AERMOD this exercise showed that both TAPM and MM5 data are relatively comparable but both produce high percentile odour contours smaller than AUSPLUME for effectively the same meteorological data.