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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 completed the data collection phases of the Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan. The Department is now analysing all the information to help us identify where dust and odours are coming from, contributing weather conditions, who is being impacted and to what extent.

The plan involved 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. The results from all of these programs will be reported on this webpage in the coming months.

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 and following the Minister’s Appeal Determination, (see Appeal 1 and Appeal 2), an amended licence was granted on 11 January 2019.

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.

On 30 May 2019, an agreement was reached that resulted in CCL withdrawing its judicial review application. The licence was amended again on 30 May 2019.

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

What now?

On 1 August 2019 CCL submitted its odour investigation report and the Department has appointed an international expert in the cement and lime manufacturing to conduct a peer-review of the report. CCL's investigation report and the peer review report (with the exception of commercially sensitive information) will be published on this webpage in the coming months once the peer review is complete.

In the meantime, CCL is expected to comply with all obligations required by its licence. 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, once all the above mentioned reports are finalised, including the peer reviews, DWER will conduct an expert analysis of all available information from the last 6-12 months of work, as well as all historical investigations.

Conclusions drawn will be scientifically robust and evidence-based, ensuring that DWER’s regulatory decision-making for the future of this premises is risk-based in accordance with its Regulatory Best Practice Principles.

The licence will be reviewed in light of all newly-available information and DWER will ensure that any solutions to the odour and dust issues will be implemented in a reasonable manner. It is possible that this will involve testing or piloting of solutions over the coming summer, with any potential long-term solutions not implemented through the licence until the summer of 2020/21.

Further surveillance activities will however continue over the coming summer months.

Works approval – trial of odour neutralising agent

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 of an odour neutralising agent and installation of associated infrastructure. Copies of the works approval and decision report are available.

CCL has completed this trial and submitted its report and findings to the DWER.

CCL’s findings demonstrate that the use of the odour neutraliser has not made any material change to the emission profile from the premises. As such, DWER has formed the view that the use of the odour neutraliser has been largely ineffective in achieving CCL’s intended objective and that it is not a solution to the odour emissions from the premises.

DWER has advised CCL that it has no further authorisation under the Environmental Protection Act 1987 to trial the use the odour neutraliser. Condition 18C included in Licence L4533/1967/15 continues to apply as follows:

Condition 18C

The Licensee must ensure that odour emitted from the premises does not unreasonably interfere with the health, welfare, convenience, comfort or amenity of any person who is not on the premises.

Investigation of odour and dust impacts

The Department continues to investigate odour and dust complaints from the community.

Community residents are reminded that it is important to report odour and dust 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 gave 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 has received CCL’s report and has arranged an independent third party to conduct a peer-review of CCL’s 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.

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 is 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 is required to be compliant with those amended conditions.

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. Further invitations to small group (up to four people) meetings will likely be organised in the coming months to discuss the results from all the work completed over the last summer period and the path forward from here.  

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 have compiled all the available information following the various initiatives undertaken over the last summer/autumn period 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

DWER will update this page as new information comes to hand. If you have concerns or would like more information, call the Contaminated Sites hotline on 1300 762 982.


 Updated 1 November 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.