Building a new port will enable more freight on rail and on roads outside highly urbanised areas, reducing congestion and improving the safety and health of our community.
Maintaining heavy cargo transport to and from Fremantle Port carries increasing risk for community safety and health.
One of the justifications for the Perth Freight Link was the projected doubling of heavy vehicle traffic on the Leach and Stirling Highways over the next 15 years including freight traffic to and from the Fremantle port.¹
Fremantle Ports is now saying the port can increase annual container handling to 2.1 million TUEs from the current 750,000, close to tripling freight volumes. This will have a corresponding major increase in freight traffic and road congestion. Stirling Bridge in particular could never cope with this.
The risks for the highly urbanised communities along these routes include the following:
2. Road traffic collisions
Main Roads WA claimed that the proposed Perth Freight Link would reduce the number of road traffic collisions by reducing the mixing of trucks and cars.¹ However evidence indicates that the number of vehicle collisions is directly related to the number of vehicles on the road, as well as the vehicle speed.³ By not investing in alternatives such as an outer metropolitan harbour and significant freight rail, the number of heavy vehicles mixing with cars will increase and there will be a consequent increase in the number of traffic collissions.
3. Dangerous goods handling
Over 30% of freight in and out of the port are dangerous goods, known as placarded loads. The majority of dangerous cargoes
being transported through the Port of Fremantle are associated with the mining and rural industries and include: petroleum products; corrosive liquids such as acids and caustic soda; ammonium nitrate; and speciality chemicals. While the port has strict controls in place to ensure that these cargoes are handled safely in the port, there is a still a concern of accidents while in transit, particularly through urban communities.
The Kwinana Industrial Area has far more resources to handle accidents and its freight transport routes are through less densely populated areas meaning far fewer people would be impacted by such a spill.
4. Air Pollution
Diesel engine exhaust has been declared a class 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), World Health Organisation.² This means there is no safe level to breath in these toxic fumes without a risk of lung cancer or bladder cancer.
Diesel engines also produce small particles consisting of carbon bound to other pollutants including metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. These particles vary in size and the very small particles (with a diameter of less than 2.5μm, known as PM2.5) can enter the lungs’ small airways exacerbating lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive airways disease, and increasing the risk of heart disease and possibly stroke.
High ambient noise causes stress to adults and children and has been linked to high blood pressure, loss of sleep and poor school performance.† With increased traffic, particularly heavy vehicular traffic the level of ambient noise will increase.
These social and environmental risks must be accounted for in any ‘cost benefit’ analysis for a new port in Kwinana.
Early action on the Kwinana harbour would address many of these hazards: diverting container trucks away from metropolitan roads, having them travel instead via an extension of Tonkin Highway, through Rowley and Anketell roads to/from the Kwinana port.
¹ Australian Government and WA Department of Main Roads, 2014. Perth Freight Link, Business Case Executive Summary.
² International Agency for Research on Cancer Press Release No 213, 12 June 2012.
³ Litman, 2010. Evaluating public transportation health benefits, Victoria Transport Policy Institute
† WHO Europe Regional Office, Noise.