Water and Environmental Regulation Cockburn area air monitoring

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

To further investigate, we ran the Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan from February to mid-May this year. The aim of this Plan was to help us identify where dust and odours are coming from, contributing weather conditions, who is being impacted and to what extent. The results from the dust and odour programs will be published as soon as possible later this year. The four Programs below were carried out under this Plan.

Community odour and dust monitoring program

We established a group of community volunteers from the area in the map below, to report odour or dust impacts when they experienced or witnessed. We wish to thank the 69 volunteers who logged their last reports in mid-May for the program, which received more than 330 reports. To finalise the program, DWER is holding three information sessions for volunteers on 4, 5 and 6 June 2019 – where we will present the data that was provided during the program. The department is now analysing and interpreting this data. The program will help us build a picture of the current state of odour and dust in the area – assisting us to identify impacts, possible sources and the role local weather conditions are playing.

map showing suburban boundaries of the monitoring program

Odour patrol program

Departmental officers patrolled the area to identify any odour impacts and their sources. DWER performed 28 patrols spanning 50 hours.

Odour patrol officers were, on numerous occasions, able to correlate their findings with reports from the Community Odour and Dust Monitoring Program’s volunteers.

Data from odour patrols will be analysed in conjunction with data from the Community Odour and Dust Monitoring Program and other additional information, to provide robust interpretations about the status of odour sources and identified odour impacts in this area.

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and dust monitoring program

DWER installed a LiDAR unit and several particle monitors designed to assess the origin and pathway of airborne dust. As per DWER’s previous LiDAR programs at Cape Lambert, Port Hedland and Mandogalup, the LiDAR and particle monitor recordings were live-streamed on the department’s website during the program.

Dust sampling program

The dust sampling program involved placing eight dust deposition plates at specific locations in the area including several background sites to collect dust for analysis. The main aim was to assist in the determination of sources of dust in the area. These plates were sampled daily during the program and selected samples were analysed. This data will assist in determining dust sources in the area and validating the dust monitoring data – in order to provide information on the types of dust being deposited.

FAQ's - Cockburn area air monitoring plan

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What is the purpose of this plan?

We’re very aware that dust and odour issues are impacting community members, so our Plan is designed to help identify where dust and odours are coming from, any contributing weather conditions, and who they’re impacting and associated levels of annoyance. The purpose of this Plan is to determine whether we need to change how we regulate industrial premises in the area.

Why has this plan begun and why at this time?

We continue to investigate and respond to dust and odour complaints in the Cockburn area across Beeliar, Munster and Yangebup. We have chosen to conduct the Plan from February to May, as this is the time period that sees the greatest number of complaints.

What does the plan involve?

There are four programs under this Plan that target odour and/or dust – as follows:

  • The DWER Odour Patrol Program, which involves Departmental officers patrolling the area to identify any odour impacts and their sources.
  • The Community Odour and Dust Monitoring Program, which involves the Department inviting and establishing a group of community volunteers to report any odour or dust impacts when they are experienced or witnessed.
  • The Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Program, which involves DWER installing a LiDAR unit and particle monitors to help pinpoint the area/s where dust is generated and the paths through the air. The LiDAR and particle monitor recordings will be live-streamed.
  • The Dust Sampling Program, which involves placing a small number of dust sampling units in the area to collect dust for analysis to determine source/s.

When will DWER be releasing results about the entire plan?

We will release as much information as soon as we can on all Programs under this Plan, depending on legal advice.

We will inform the public of any significant regulatory or other action that we take in response to the Plan.

FAQ's - Community odour and dust monitoring program

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What is the purpose of this Program?

The purpose of this Program is to build a picture of the current state of odour and dust in the area. The Program will assist the department to identify the level of impacts, the perceived sources of odour and dust that may be present in the area, but also how you are impacted, how often and what the weather is like when the event occurs.

How has this monitoring area been selected?

The selected monitoring area – bounded by Stock Road in the west, Beeliar Drive in the north, Fanstone and Fancote Avenues in the south and Kogolup Lake in the east – has been chosen based on the prevalence of odour and dust complaints received from residents in these areas for the past several years.

How do I register to get involved or ask any questions?

Thank you for your interest, however, registrations have now closed.

What will I be required to do?

You are invited to work with the Department to gather the information needed to better manage odour and dust issues. Volunteers will be required to record the details of any odour experienced or dust witnessed, in the online reporting portal on our website. Volunteers can record odour and dust events experienced or witnessed while at home, or even while driving or going for a walk within the area.

Will it be easy to find and access the online reporting portal on DWER’s website?

We will provide clear guidance on how to access to the online reporting portal on our website and how to fill it in during the initial briefings on 5, 7 or 11 March. When you attend one of these briefings, you will also be able to ask questions.

I would like to participate but I can’t attend any of the proposed briefings. What can I do?

If you cannot attend one of these initial briefings, but would like to participate, please let us know and we will arrange a separate initial briefing for you.

Will I require any training to be involved?

No specific training will be needed to be part of this Program.

Who can volunteer to take part?

Any adult community member living within the monitoring area map can be involved. Different people from the same household can participate, as long as reporting is not influenced or discussed with other volunteers living at the same address.

Can I discuss my reporting with other community members involved or not involved in the Program?

All reports from volunteers are anonymous and we ask that all volunteers keep their observations private, as the robustness of our findings relies on true reporting that is not influenced by other people.

Will DWER be doing any odour monitoring during this Program?

At the same time as this Program occurs, some DWER officers will be conducting odour patrols for our Odour Patrol Program.

How will the Department verify the reports made by volunteers under the Community Odour and Dust Monitoring Program?

The findings of DWER Odour Patrol Program officers will be correlated and cross-referenced with all community volunteer reports.

What is the benefit of being involved in the Program?

Taking part in the Program is an opportunity to provide feedback on what is like living in your area, and will help the Department in its decisions on how we regulate industrial premises in the area.

Will I be paid for my involvement in the Program?

Involvement is voluntary and there will be no payments made.

Can I still take part even if I go away for some time during the Program?

Yes. Even if you are away from your home for some of the time, you may still participate in the Program. You would just need to inform us when you would be unavailable by sending us an email.

How many volunteers do you need?

A good geographic spread across the entire monitoring area is more important than the number of volunteers for an effective Program.

Am I able to withdraw from the Program at any time?

As a volunteer, you are free to withdraw from the Program at any time. However, your feedback on the Program and the reason for withdrawing would be appreciated.

Will my details and data be confidential?

Your details remain completely confidential during and after the Program.

Are local government agencies involved in the program?

While this Program is exclusively managed by DWER, we have informed the City of Cockburn about this Program and the entire Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan.

What is the process after I express interest?

If you would like to be involved, you should attend the initial briefing session. The same initial briefing will be given on 5, 7 and 11 March – please attend the session that suits you best. During this initial session, we will provide further detailed information on the purpose and process of the Program, your role, how to use our online reporting portal, and we will also answer any questions.

What if I have any questions during the Program?

If you have any questions at any stage during the Program, please contact us.

If I would like to log a complaint about odour or dust, how do I do this?

All volunteers will be required to log all information through our Program’s online reporting portal. However, if you would like to register a formal complaint with DWER either call the Pollution Watch hotline on 1300 784 782 or visit our report pollution page.

FAQ's - Odour patrol program

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What is the main purpose of the Program?

We will be collecting information about how odours are impacting the community and identifying the odour source/s. Our main aim is to determine if further regulatory controls are required at any of the industrial premises we regulate.

How does the Odour Patrol Program work?

We will be collecting information about how odours are impacting the community and identifying the odour source/s. Our team of selected and trained odour officers will patrol the area under various wind conditions. When our experts recognise any odours while on patrol, they will report details such as wind direction and speed, intensity level, how often they detect the odour, and what it smells like.

How often will the odour patrols occur?

Our patrols will be regular and guided by weather conditions.

Is there any special equipment involved?

The measurement is undertaken by human noses. No other measurements are taken. The purpose of the assessment is to provide information about odour similar to that experienced by community members.

How are your experts selected?

Our odour officers are selected following a process described in the Australian Standard AS 4323.3:2001 and the European Standard EN 16841 Part 2. The selection process aims to engage a panel of assessors who have ‘average’ odour sensitivity. To avoid bias in the results, any potential panellist who is either hypersensitive or suffers from anosmia (limited odour sensitivity) is excluded.

Do weather conditions come into consideration? What effect may they have?

Odours are transported by the wind so weather conditions (mainly wind direction and wind speed) must be considered. Monitoring areas are located where the community is living and they are spread in all directions from various possible sources, in order to cover various wind directions. Surveys cannot occur when it is raining, as rain may wash the atmosphere and conditions become complicated for the assessors. Early morning and late afternoon are some specific periods of the day (due to atmospheric stability) that can experience stronger odour impacts.

FAQ's - LIDAR and dust monitoring program

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What does this Program involve?

We have installed a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) unit to help pinpoint where dust is being generated and its path through the air. We have also installed particle monitors (including two Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalances and one Beta Attenuation Monitor) across Beeliar and Muster to help determine dust concentrations in air.

What is a LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is a well-established technology developed in the 1960s. The LiDAR instrument sends out thousands of infrared light pulses per second and measures the amount of time it takes for each pulse to bounce back after being reflected from a distant object (generally called backscatter). A measurement is taken of the average backscatter of particles within every 20 metre length of the light beam out to around four kilometres. The average intensity of the backscattered light from the particles in the atmosphere gives a qualitative measure of particles dispersed in the air.

Why is the LiDAR on a tower?

Trees or buildings in the way will obstruct the LiDAR beam. It is therefore placed on a tower to ensure the beam passes over these obstructions and can view the largest possible area.

Is the LiDAR beam eye safe?

The laser beam emitted by the LiDAR is infrared and causes no adverse health impacts on people.

What happens when it rains?

The LiDAR operates during all kinds of weather. It is worth noting that during periods of very high humidity or rainfall, the LiDAR may return a higher backscatter signal than normal over the scan area. These high signals can create the impression that there is a region-wide dust event occurring. DWER will be able to determine whether such weather caused such backscatter in our scans, once the Program is completed.

How can I view the LiDAR feed?

As with DWER’s previous LiDAR programs at Cape Lambert, Port Hedland and Mandogalup, the LiDAR and particle monitor recordings will be live-streamed on our website during the study.

Why did you choose this equipment?

What is great about using our LiDAR in conjunction with our dust particle monitors is that we can detect where dust plumes originate and how they are dispersed.

Is there anything else I should know?

It is important to stress there are some limitations, as our LiDAR picks up most dust plumes but cannot detect those that are short-lived or missed by its 10-minute scans. Some plumes can also be outside the LiDAR’s four-kilometre line-of sight.

Where can I find out more information on the Program?

We have published a factsheet with information on the Program, which is available on this page.

FAQ's - Dust sampling program

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What will occur as part of this Program?

We will be placing dust sampling equipment – small glass squares – at a small number of community volunteers’ homes around the area, to collect dust and help determine possible source/s.

How often will you monitor the dust sampling equipment?

We will collect dust from this sampling equipment daily to analyse and identify what it is made of and where it may have come from.

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Page reviewed 1 July 2020
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