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Cockburn Air Quality

Background

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER)* continues to investigate and respond to complaints of dust and odours impacting the suburbs of Munster, Beeliar and Yangebup in the City of Cockburn.

 * The former Department of Environment Regulation amalgamated on 1 July 2017 with the Department of Water and the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority, forming the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

What is Happening Now?

Cockburn Cement Limited (CCL)

CCL's cement and lime manufacturing plant in Munster has been licensed under Part V, Division 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) since 1987. The current licence (L4533/1967/16) was granted on 30 June 2012 and amended on 23 June 2016 to extend the expiry date to 30 June 2036. 

CCL is subject to ongoing DWER compliance inspections and investigations.

DWER can, depending on the circumstances:

  • amend the conditions of the licence at any time;
  • in the event of an alleged offence, exercise enforcement powers under the EP Act, including issuing an environmental protection notice; and
  • in the event of a breach of licence conditions, revoke the licence.

A copy of the Amendment Notice and DWER's decision is available here.

Licence review

 In 2016, DWER carried out a comprehensive risk-based review of the licence. The review considered air quality and odour findings from several studies, including a community odour survey and odour verification plan undertaken by CCL and assessed by DWER, as well as a DWER ambient air quality study.

On 12 December 2016, DWER issued CCL with an amended licence with new risk-based conditions and specified controls for stack emissions, dust and odour. Conditions include: 

  • new continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) targeted at combustion efficiency monitoring;
  • live combustion efficiency monitoring aimed at minimising the emission of odourous compounds;
  • ongoing community odour programs;
  • upgraded ambient monitoring stations for particulates and particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter (PM10);
  • real-time boundary line response requirements and fugitive dust limits; and
  • online reporting of fugitive dust levels at the site boundary.

As part of the consultation process, DWER provided CCL with a copy of the draft amended licence and decision report. CCL requested that parts of the decision report and the associated technical reports were not published on the basis that they contained commercial-in-confidence information.

As this issue would take time to resolve, DWER issued the amended licence but redacted the information subject to the commercial-in-confidence claim.

The publication of the redacted information will be considered in the appeals lodged against the licence (see below) and by a separate process initiated under the Freedom of Information Act 1992.

Licence appeals

The amended licence has been appealed under section 102 of the EP Act. While the amended licence is under appeal, the previous version of the licence remains in force and DWER is unable to enforce the new risk-based conditions.

The appeals are yet to be determined by the Minister for Environment. For further information regarding the appeals process, please visit the Office of the Appeals Convenor website or call 6467 5190.

Copies of both versions of the licence are available here

Application for works approval – trial of odour neutralising agent

On 15 August 2018, CCL submitted a works approval application to DWER for the trial use of an odour neutralising agent and installation of associated infrastructure.

The application was accepted by DWER on 3 September 2018 and is currently been assessed.

Interested community members are invited to comment on the application which is available to view on DWER’s website.

The comment period for this application closes on 25 September 2018.

Investigation of dust impacts

DWER investigated two dust events reported by Beeliar residents on 5 September 2016 and Munster residents on 11 October 2016. The investigations included taking samples of dust deposited, interviewing residents and local industry and reviewing available air monitoring data. 

Dust sampled was alkaline (pH of 11 to 12) and consisted primarily of calcium. Analysis reports: Interim Report and Report on Microscopic Analysis. 

From the investigations undertaken to date, it was not possible to conclusively determine the origin of the dust events. The information obtained, however, will be used to inform any further investigation into dust events in the area.

Investigation of odour impacts

DWER continues to investigate odour complaints from the community.

Community residents are reminded that it is important to report odour impacts at the time that they occur by calling DWER's Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782. The online reporting tool can be used to lodge complaints after the impact has occurred.

 

More Information

This page will be updated as new information becomes available. Please check back or subsribe to email updates below. Odour and dust complaints can be made to DWER’s 24-hour Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782.


 Updated 7 September 2018