Protests close Australia coal port

Environmental activists attach themselves to machinery inside the world's largest coal port to protest global warming.

    Climate change protesters succeeded in shutting down the world's largest coal port [Rising Tide]

    Climate change activists in Australia have attached themselves to equipment inside the world's largest coal port, shutting down its operations, the terminal operator and protesters have said.

    Rising Tide, an environmental group in Newcastle, Australia, stopped operations at all three terminals operated by Port Waratah Coal Services, which normally runs a continuous operation, a company spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

    "All operations have temporarily stopped," the spokesman said, after about 50 protesters took action at dawn on Sunday morning. Some attached themselves to loaders and machinery inside the facility, while others demonstrated with banners.

    Police in New South Wales state confirmed that protesters had entered the facility and attached themselves to machinery. Negotiations between protesters and police have been happening, a police spokeswoman said.

    Annika Dean, a spokesperson for Rising Tide, said: "We are staging an emergency intervention into Australia's number one cause of global warming."

    The comments were in reference to the production and export of coal, which is widely seen as a dirty fuel.

    "Around the world, the early impacts of unabated global warming are beginning to emerge. 2010 has been a year of tragic weather disasters," Dean said in a release.

    'Impacts of warming'

    “Thousands of people have died this year due to flash floods in Pakistan and China, and fires in Siberia. Millions of people are facing starvation due to a devastating drought in west Africa.

    "These are the impacts of global warming that scientists have been warning us about for decades. Global warming is happening now, and it is killing people."

    Newcastle, just north of Sydney, is the world's largest coal export port and a major earner of foreign exchange for Australia. Port Waratah Coal Services is partly owned by mining giants Xstrata and Rio Tinto through its Coal and Allied subsidiary.

    A spokesman for Port Waratah Coal Services said it would be several days before losses resulting from the action could be assessed.

    Dean said activists launched the protest because "Australia is a major contributor to this crisis, due to the massive volumes of coal we export. We are exporting global warming to the world".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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