Reefton coal ban mulled

By Laura Mills
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Residents of Reefton — a town built right alongside a coalmine — could be banned from burning hot bituminous coal as part of efforts to reduce winter smog.
A local committee set up to look at possible solutions has been considering a device that can be attached to chimneys and which causes the particles from a fire to cluster together and attach to the side of the chimney.
West Coast Regional Council planning and environment manager Mike Meehan said when a fire was first lit, the device reduced pollution by 90 to 97%, and overall it reduced emissions by 58% during a four-day trial.
The report, released this week to councillors, suggested that bituminous coal should also be prohibited in the township.
Mr Meehan said the chimney ‘tube’ seemed to work best with sub-bituminous (slower burning) coal.
Cr Terry Archer said a number of people burned coal because they received it as part of their employment contract.
“It needs to be looked at, whether it’s bituminous or sub-bituminous.”
However, he thought most coal used at the moment was suitable, and not the type that should be prohibited.
Mr Meehan said he thought about 80% of coal burned in Reefton was sub-bituminous.
Cr Neil Clementson, who works in the coal industry, said people burned coal because it was available and relatively cheap.
Non-bituminous coal was mostly exported. If people tried to burn it, it would be too hot and could pop the glass in their burner.
The local committee will make recommendations to the April meeting of the regional council.