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Daily Telegraph reveals litany of M5E tunnel problems

January 13th exceedence at David St., Undercliffe monitoring station

Budget Estimates Committee – RTA denies there's a problem with tunnel

Lane Cove demands withdrawal of Health Report

Linda Burney meeting

M4 News – health fears about increased traffic and unfiltered stacks

Apology - $10m not $1m for Lane Cove Tunnel from Federal Government.

Free Stickers


Daily Telegraph reveals a litany of M5 East tunnel problems

The Daily Telegraph published two articles and an editorial on one day – 17th Feb 2005 - about problems relating to the M5 East tunnel. Amongst these were hazards, including pollution and fire risks, problems of maintenance of essential safety equipment, the use of untrained staff, an escalating feud between BHEgis and its top contractor over who is responsible for checking and maintaining equipment, and even the tunnel's viability. Subcontractors Alstom, in a leaked document obtained by the Telegraph, doubted the State Government's commitment to monitor and publish air quality data revealing that some air quality sensors were "wildly inaccurate" and probably had been since the 2001 opening.

The Daily Telegraph also revealed that fans in three of the cross-passages were inoperative and that the management of the M5 East deliberately avoided closing the motorway for maintenance work on parliamentary sitting days. On 18 Feb. 2005 there was yet another article with Paul Willoughby, RTA, stating, when asked about how the RTA tested assurances made by the tunnel operator regarding maintenance, "I'm not required to give you a detailed explanation of the RTA's action in relation to that." These articles will be posted on our website in the next few days.

See RAPS Media Release 18 Feb2005: http://www.raps.bur.st/20050218/20050218a.doc

The issues were widely discussed on several radio stations, including ABC702, 2UE, 2SM, and 2BL with many people calling in to complain about the dirty, congested tunnel, and on Channel 9 and 10. The Premier and Paul Willoughby went into immediate damage control denying there were any problems with the tunnel/motorway.

January 13th exceedence at David St., Undercliffe monitoring station

The RTA has attempted to claim that the exceedence in air quality goals experienced at the David St., Undercliffe 'X1' monitoring station was the result of a 'regional event'. See :


This clearly is not the case as no other monitoring station within 30km of the stack showed an exceedence. The RTA report of the event shows a lack of understanding of the nature and requirements of the condition of approval and an attempt to rewrite the condition to suit their purposes. The Department of Infrastructure Planning and Resources (DIPNR) has refused to accept the RTA report at face value, calling for 'further investigation'. This further report was submitted to DIPNR last week but both DIPNR and the RTA, quoting different reasons, refused to release the report to RAPS or, more significantly, to the M5 Air Quality Community Liaison Group in time for it to be discussed at the AQCLG meeting on Monday 21st February. Any reasonable reading of the much criticized 'protocol' for the examination of causes of exceedences, calls for community involvement at all stages of this process so this development raises concerns, to say the least! Unless the RTA pulls a technical rabbit out of the hat, the available evidence is completely consistent with the exceedence having been caused by stack emissions between 9am and 1pm on Thursday, 13th January.

Budget Estimate Committee

During a parliamentary budget estimate committee meeting on 10 February 2005, the RTA once again denied that there were any problems with the M5 East tunnel. The following is an extract from Hansard concerning a question asked by Upper House member, Sylvia Hale to RTA CEO, Paul Forward and his answer :

Ms SYLVIA HALE: Why are there still no warnings or information provided to drivers entering the M5 East tunnel about the potential ill effects on their health?

Mr FORWARD: I do not accept that there is an ill effect; I do not accept the honourable member's basic premise. We meet the standards, and if we did not, the Department of Health, as the regulator, would have some concerns. No motorist has been exposed to any adverse impacts after travelling through the M5 East tunnel.

It is important that anyone who experiences any ill-effects, either around the tunnel or in it, report the fact to the RTA on 9963 3221, the dedicated complaints line, or on 131 700.

Lane Cove Council meets with Health Dept. over flawed Health Report

The Dept of Health has now prepared its flawed and misleading M5E health report for publication. At a recent meeting on 8th Feb '05 with Lane Cove Council, members of the community and NSW Health, it was documented that there were significant emissions of pollution from both ends of the M5 East tunnel during the period of the study. This was unknown to NSW Health at the time and would have rendered the data on which the department based its comparative analysis of low versus high impacts to be invalid. NSW Health was urged to withdraw the report from publication until it had revisited it in the light of known portal emissions. Not to do so, it was contended, would amount to scientific misconduct. The Department agreed to review the Phase 2 study taking into account portal emissions and to consider the other recommendations from the meeting. The report has already been used to validate the RTA's non-filtration stance for other Sydney tunnels even though it has been condemned by independent experts and acknowledged by Health to have limitations. The report has also been used to provide advice to Rockdale Council that the development of the old Streets site at Turrella near the M5 East stack was safe for redevelopment as a school

RAPS members meet with local member, Linda Burney

An 1-1/2 hour meeting with Local Member, Linda Burney proved to be most encouraging with Linda promising to liaise on RAPS' behalf with relevant ministers in an endeavour to "break the circuit" and start to unwind the problems regarding the tunnel. These include recommending a review of the flawed Health Report, questions about the Bexley North bridge fiasco where signs have been installed to warn motorists of flooding but not turned on (!) and the January 13th air quality exceedence which the RTA is naturally denying.

M4 news – health fears about traffic increases and unfiltered stacks

Leichhardt municipality has the highest rate of cancer in the whole of Sydney and fears are that this can only get worse. Dr Geoff Morgan, public health researcher from Sydney University, states there is a clear correlation between increases in vehicle emissions and increases in the rate of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases from particulate matter and benzene. Residents are worried about the increase in traffic and the construction of unfiltered stacks with the proposed M4. See Inner Western Suburbs article on our website (will be posted on the site in the next few days.)


We apologise for a typing error in last month's newsletter. The amount offered by Joe Hockey on behalf of the Federal Government to the State Government towards the cost of filtering the Lane Cove Tunnel was $10m and not $1m as stated.

Free stickers

Lane Cove Tunnel Action Group, Inc, has printed promotional stamps with the warning "Unfiltered Tunnels Poison People". The aim is to alert people to the serious threat of pollution from all long road tunnels, not just Lane Cove's stacks. Tunnel pollution harms motorists as well as people who live and work around the stacks - pollution which is far more toxic than cigarette smoke in clubs and hotels, which kills about 70 people each year.

The threat is as real as asbestosis.

The sticker is a way in which everyone can help. It's a low-key but insistent message to keep pressure on the RTA and the decision-makers to filter our tunnels. These tiny, fluorescent-yellow, stickers can be used in many ways: on the front or back of personal or business mail, on bumper bars or dashboards, shop counters or cash registers,
school bags, even shop windows. Display stickers wherever you can (they're free). Ring : 9427 0131


RAPS Inc is funded entirely by $10 membership fees and community donations. We receive no grants from council or government bodies.

We currently have significant costs, and need to build up funds for ongoing outlays such as public liability insurance as well as professional advice and help needed at this crucial time.

Please help us to keep going by sending a donation to:

Residents Against Polluting Stacks Inc
PO Box 270 Earlwood NSW 2206 Australia
TEL 9558 8863, 9573 0052, 9559 1278
fax: (02) 9558 8300 or international +61 2 9558 8300

RAPS Inc is an incorporated community group representing residents and workers affected by the M5 East Stack and portals. We meet every second Tuesday night at Earlwood Bowling Club, Doris Ave Earlwood NSW. Please email us if you are thinking of attending to confirm that the meeting is on. email: raps@cominc.com.au web: http://nostack.8m.com/

RAPS Inc is a member of GASP, Groups Against Stack Pollution, a coalition of groups with similar aims and objectives affected by similar stacks from around Sydney's planned Cross City and Lane Cove tunnels.

Our email list is maintained in confidence at the sending address only. To subscribe to this email list send an email to raps@cominc.com.au with "ADD TO MAILING LIST" in the subject line. To unsubscribe, send an email with DELETE FROM MAILING

This page is maintained by

The Rivermouth Action Group Inc

as a community service.

E-mail: activist@rag.org.au