Go to whole of WA Government search

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 (L4533/1967/15) was granted on 11 January 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 with the amended licence here.

Community members that have frequently contacted us will receive letter invitations in the coming days to small group (up to four people) meetings to be held between 3pm and 7pm on Thursday 31 January 2019 at the City of Cockburn offices,to provide further updates on all the Department’s work on this matter. If you want to register to attend one of these 25-minute sessions, please contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 6364 6895.

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 are available here

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 concern:

(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 challenge the Minister's decision and now the Department’s decision are the same and have not changed. 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 has been set to hear the case and a decision will be handed down by the Court at some time after that.

What now?

Now the licence is finalised, the Department expects that CCL will commence its comprehensive investigations into the source and cause of odours from the Munster facility. 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 realised.

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 investigated and considered when further reviews of the licence are undertaken.

DWER’s dust monitoring and LiDAR study

The Department is undertaking a dust monitoring study in the Beeliar/Munster area over the summer months. The study is to determine the source of dust observed in the area and to better understand the dispersion of dust, especially the pathways that may affect residents in the Beeliar/Munster area.

LiDARScaffold

Photograph of LiDAR scaffold on Henderson Road.

The study will consist of Australian Standard PM10 monitoring sites as well as Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) monitoring. The LiDAR instrument is sited on top of a 15 metre scaffold in Henderson Road allowing the LiDAR an unimpeded view of the surrounding area

As the study progresses and sources of dust in the area become clearer, it may be advantageous for the Department to undertake different LiDAR scanning strategies that will focus on those identified dust sources to better understand the meteorological conditions or activities that cause dust.

The LiDAR results will, like previous studies in other locations, be shown in real-time on the DWER website. When this information is available to go live on the website (expected in late January 2019), this page will be updated to provide the link.

The LiDAR program is scheduled to run to the end of April 2019. The scaffolding will be removed on completion of the study, which is likely to be in the first week of May 2019.

A fact sheet with additional information on the study is available here.

Application for 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 DWER 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.

Copies of the works approval and decision report can be found by clicking here.

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

Is the Minister’s Appeal Determination final?
The Minister’s Appeal Determination is not subject to further appeal under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act). The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) has an obligation under s110 of the EP Act to amend the licence to enact the findings of the Minister.
DWER granted the amended licence on 11 January 2019 after considering comments from Cockburn Cement on the draft amended licence.

Can the amended licence be appealed?
No. In accordance with s105 of the EP Act, licence amendments made as a direct response to the Minister’s Appeal Determination cannot be appealed. However, in this instance, on 21 December 2018, Cockburn Cement lodged a judicial review application 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. A date of 20 February 2019 has been set to hear the case and a decision will be handed down by the Court at some time after that.

What effect does the judicial review have on the licence?
Once granted, the amended licence took effect on 11 January 2019. Unless determined otherwise in the judicial review proceedings or other court proceedings, the conditions will remain in place and CCL are obliged to follow them.

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

Yes. Community members that have frequently contacted us will receive letter invitations to small group (up to four people) meetings scheduled for between 3pm and 7pm on Thursday 31 January 2019, where we can provide further updates on all the Department’s work on this matter. If you want to register to attend one of these 25-minute sessions, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 6364 6895.

How do I find out more information about what is going on now or how can I be updated regularly?
Our ‘Cockburn Air Quality’ Community Update webpage at www.dwer.wa.gov.au/cockburn 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 29 January 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.