Cinema air monitor installed in Port Augusta

MONITOR: Cinema Augusta co-owner Michelle Coles, Mayor Sam Johnson and Greenpeace campaigner Andrew Kelly with the air monitor.
MONITOR: Cinema Augusta co-owner Michelle Coles, Mayor Sam Johnson and Greenpeace campaigner Andrew Kelly with the air monitor.

With the help of a well-known environment campaigner, Cinema Augusta will help keep tabs on Port Augusta’s dust problem.

On Wednesday, March 22, cinema co-owner Michelle Coles, Greenpeace campaigner Andrew Kelly and Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson unveiled an independent air monitor at Cinema Augusta.

The monitor is worth around $16,000 but was loaned for free from Greenpeace’s UK facilities.

A crowdfunding effort raised around $1700 to pay for transporting the equipment to Port Augusta, and will be a source for additional potential monitors.

It reads PM10 dust levels, which are small enough to enter human airwaves and can also read for smaller levels of dust particles.

Readings are recorded every second with an average recorded every minute, and daily peaks are recorded too.

Air samples can also be taken and sent to the UK for analysis for irregular circumstances such as extreme weather events or when major demolition work at the Port Augusta Power Station occurs.

The monitor will remain in place until Flinders Power complete their top soil treatment of the power station’s ash dam, expected to be before winter.

Cinema Augusta co-owner Michelle Coles said she was very thankful to the Port Augusta Fly Ash Community group.

She also thanked Greenpeace, local council and the entire Port Augusta community.

“It’s been a long road, he (Andrew Kelly) sat in 59 degree heat in his apartment in Sydney when it had its blackout trying to organise things for us,” she said.

“And I want to thank the community for being behind us, this is not for me particular but this is for the community so we can get some honest answers about what sort of air we’re breathing.”

Failure for governments to plan was a main reason why Greenpeace helped with this initiative, according to Mr Kelly. “We looked at all the available sites and it was in conversation with an air monitoring expert … but it seems like this is a good site,” he said.

“And it’s a nice thing to do for Michelle after being an unofficial community leader.”

Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson thanked Greenpeace and the Port Augusta Fly Ash Community Group for taking ownership of the project.

“This is a great example of when community want to do something, they get behind something, and they’ll make it happen.”