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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 Area Air Monitoring Plan.

DWER has begun its Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan – which will run until May this year. This plan will help us identify where dust and odours are coming from, contributing weather conditions, who is being impacted and to what extent. The plan involves four programs, including the Community Odour and Dust Monitoring Program, the DWER Odour Patrol Program, the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Program and the DWER Dust Sampling Program.

For more information on the plan and its four programs, see the Cockburn Air Monitoring Plan.

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 (L4533/1967/15) was amended on 30 May 2019.

Licence review

In 2016, the Department 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 the Department, as well as a Department ambient air quality study.

On 12 December 2016, the Department 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 of 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.

Licence appeals

The amended licence was appealed under section 102 of the EP Act by CCL and other interested parties. The appeals were determined by the Minister for Environment on 5 December 2018.

To view the Minister’s Appeal Determination, see Appeal 1 and Appeal 2.

In response to this Appeal Determination, DWER has fulfilled its obligation under s110 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 to amend the licence to reflect the Minister’s decision. A finalised amended licence was granted on 11 January 2019 following the Department’s consideration of CCL’s comments on the draft amended licence. A summary of CCL’s comments and the Department’s response is published in the Decision Report from the 11 January amendment. .

For further information regarding the appeals process, please visit the Office of the Appeals Convenor website or call 6467 5190.

Copies of the current licence and amendment report, and the 11 January 2019 Decision report are available.

Judicial review

On 21 December 2018, CCL commenced judicial review proceedings in the Supreme Court of WA on the grounds that it considered certain aspects of the Minister's Appeal Determination to be beyond power and accordingly void. The judicial review proceedings concerned:

(a) New Condition 2 (as it appeared in the draft amended licence, which has become Condition 18B in the final amended licence); and
(b) Table 5 and Condition 23

On 15 January 2019, CCL filed a further application in the Supreme Court to vary its initial Application for Judicial Review to challenge the validity of the CEO’s 11 January 2019 decision to grant the amended licence. The amended licence gives effect to the Minister's decision, as required under section 110 of the EP Act.

The grounds on which CCL challenged the Minister's decision and the Department’s decision are the same. On 16 January 2019 the Court made orders to vary the Application for Judicial Review as per CCL’s request.

A date of 20 February 2019 had been set to hear the case but was adjourned to allow the parties further time to resolve the matter. On 30 May 2019, an agreement was reached that resulted in CCL withdrawing its judicial review application.

The Department made detailed submissions to the Court as to the way in which the licence conditions should be interpreted and this position has been communicated to CCL to clarify doubts that CCL expressed about the licence conditions. 

In addition, the Department amended condition 18B of the Licence under section 59(1) of the EP Act to give CCL one extra month for completion of its investigation into the source and cause of odour from the active kilns and to remove the requirement for peer review of CCL's investigation report.

The Department will now appoint a suitably qualified independent third party to conduct a peer-review of the investigation report. CCL's investigation report and the peer review report (with the exception of commercially sensitive information) will be made publicly available once the peer review is complete.

In addition to changes relating to the judicial review, a minor administrative change to reporting dates was also included in the amendment, at the request of CCL. This amendment was deemed to have no impact on the environment given its administrative nature.

What now?

The Department still expects that CCL will carry out its comprehensive investigations into the source and cause of odours from the Munster facility as required by condition 18B of the licence. CCL must also meet all other obligations required by the licence in relation to groundwater and dust monitoring by the required timeframes.

The Department will closely monitor compliance with these requirements. The Department understands that odour emissions can impact people’s lives and will keep in regular contact with CCL to ensure that the intended outcomes of the conditions are met.

Over the coming months, the Department expects to receive further information on the emission profile from CCL as part of the new licence conditions. This information will be examined and considered when further reviews of the licence are undertaken.

When complete, the peer review report together with the CCL investigation report (with the exception of commercially sensitive information) will be made publicly available.

Works approval – trial of odour neutralising agent

On 15 August 2018, CCL submitted a works approval application to the Department for the trial use of an odour neutralising agent and installation of associated infrastructure. Following an assessment of the application, a draft works approval was provided to CCL on 21 December 2018 providing 21 days to make comment.

Comments have been received and the Department has finalised its assessment. On 25 January 2019 DWER granted works approval W6167/2018/1 to CCL, providing it with six months to undertake the first two of a proposed three-stage trial. The decision was subsequently appealed. Copies of the works approval and decision report are available.

CCL have confirmed they have begun the odour neutralising trial.

Investigation of dust impacts

The Department 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, 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. The analysis reports are as follows: 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.

Investigation of odour impacts

The Department 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 the Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782. The online reporting tool can be used to lodge complaints after the impact has occurred.

Further information

This page is regularly updated with any planned or completed actions to reduce odours. Whenever we receive any results from Cockburn Cement in regards to identifying odour sources or causes – we will release as much information as possible to the public as we’re legally able.

Frequently asked questions

What happens now that the judicial review application has been withdrawn?

In response to the discontinued judicial review proceedings, and in accordance with Section 59(1)(a) of the EP Act, the Department has amended condition 18B of the Licence. This will give CCL one extra month for completion of its investigation into the source and cause of odour from the active kilns and removed the requirement for peer review of CCL's investigation report.

The Department considers that it is well placed to arrange an independent third party to conduct a peer-review of the investigation. The peer review report together with CCL's investigation report (with the exception of commercially sensitive information) will be made publicly available once the peer review report is complete.

Can the new amended licence which incorporates the judicial review settlement be appealed?

Yes. While this latest amendment is related to the Minister’s determination, it was not made as a direct response to the Minister’s Appeal Determination and so s105 of the EP Act does not prevent an appeal being lodged.

What effect did the judicial review have on the licence?

The amended licence giving effect to the Minister’s appeal determination took effect on 11 January 2019 and CCL are obliged to follow all conditions of the licence. Now that the licence has been further amended on 30 May 2019 to reflect the judicial review agreement between the parties, CCL will be required to be compliant with those amended conditions. 

Will you be meeting with the community to discuss the current approach?

Yes. Community members continue to be engaged through the current programs that are in place. Further invitations to small group (up to four people) meetings will likely be organised in the near future to discuss the ongoing progress.   

How do I find out more information about what is going on now or how can I be updated regularly?

This page is regularly updated with any planned or completed actions to reduce odours.

How will you ensure the site is performing the way it should be?

As we know these odours can impact people’s lives, we investigate all matters thoroughly and increase our patrols to clamp down on odours when necessary. Once we receive further information and studies from Cockburn Cement, we will conduct another licence review to reassess how the company is controlling odours and whether any further changes are required. When we carry out this review, we will discuss all changes directly with the community just like we are doing now.

What can I do to help the Department reduce odours in my area?

As we want to achieve the best outcome for everyone in the community and reduce these odours, we appreciate and encourage people reporting odours at the time they are experienced to our Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782.

What should I do if I am impacted by odours?

We will continue to conduct patrols and encourage people to report odours to our Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782.

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 22 February 2019

 

 

 

This page is regularly updated with any planned or completed actions to reduce odours. Whenever we receive any results from Cockburn Cement in regards to identifying odour sources or causes – we will release as much information as possible to the public as we’re legally able.