DOCTORS have written to the Premier Daniel Andrews and senior ministers warning about the health risks of opening another quarry at Dromana.
The 120 doctors say dust could harm children at nearby Red Hill Consolidated School and an early childhood learning centre.
Mothers at the school are also concerned about the quarry proposal being put forward by philanthropic trust, The Ross Trust, which owns Hillview Quarries.
Hillview runs a smaller quarry on the Arthurs Seat escarpment and in 2018 applied to open a quarry of up to 43 hectares on land between two sections of the Arthurs Seat State Park. The application assumes the extraction of one million tonnes of rock a year over the next 70 years.
Hillview’s proposal is being assessed by Planning Minister Richard Wynne after completion of a COVID-19-delayed environmental effects statement due sometime in 2023. Federal government approval is also required.
Hillview CEO Paul Nitas said the company had operated its quarry safely since 1968 and “we prioritise the safety of our employees and the community”.
“Our detailed scientific assessment is evidence-based analysis and will form part of the Victorian government’s environment effects statement process to ensure all current and future conditions of the site, are thoroughly considered,” he said.
More than 80,000 signatures have been added to a Save Arthurs Seat change.org petition opposing the new quarry.
The doctors – who include respiratory and allergy specialists, eight paediatricians and 29 GPs – state that “thousands of local children would grow from toddlers to teenagers near this quarry”.
Other schools within two kilometres of the quarry site are Dromana Secondary College, Peninsula Specialist College and Red Hill Pre School.
“Children and infants are particularly vulnerable to air pollution … [as are] the elderly, pregnant women, smokers and those with existing respiratory disease or cardiovascular disease,” the doctors say.
“Expert opinion supports a causal link between exposure to respirable crystalline silica and a number of diseases, including cancer and lung disease.
“Little is known so far about how silica exposure affects people outside of this setting, but we believe that the risks are serious.”
Paediatric Allergist Dr David Bannister, who has worked on the peninsula for decades, co-authored the letter and helped to gather medical signatures.
“Having children growing up so close to a massive quarry is potentially playing Russian roulette with their health,” he said.
Australian Education Union Peninsula-Frankston region president Robert Last also criticised the quarry plan.
“We should be following the health advice of doctors. A giant quarry so close to schools and childcare doesn’t pass the pub test,” he said.