Cockburn Air Quality

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.

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 odorous compounds;
  • ongoing community odour programs;
  • upgraded ambient monitoring stations for 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.

Works approval – trial of odour neutralising agent

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

CCL’s findings indicate 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 1986 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.

What is Happening Now?

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Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan

The Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER) has been receiving ongoing complaints from the community regarding odours and dust in the Cockburn area for several years. To further investigate, the department ran the Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan (the Plan) from January to May 2019, which involved four programs:

  • Community Odour and Dust Monitoring Program (CODMP)
  • Odour Patrol Program
  • Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and Dust Monitoring Program
  • Dust Sampling Program

Under the CODMP, residents from areas bound by Stock Road in the West, Beeliar Drive in the North, Fanstone and Fancote Avenues in the South and Kogolup Lake in the East, volunteered to report odour or dust impacts they experienced or witnessed. The Plan sought to identify where dust and odours were coming from, contributing weather conditions, who was impacted and to what extent.

DWER also used particle monitors and Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) data to identify possible sources of dust emissions. These monitors determined dust concentrations and assessed sources of dust in the area, including tracking of dust plumes. Dust deposition samples collected between March and May 2019 were analysed by the ChemCentre.

The key finding for odour was that Cockburn Cement Ltd was identified as one of several sources of odours impacting the Community.

The key finding for dust was that there are several dust sources impacting the area, making it difficult to clearly identify the specific sources.

These reports, along with the other monitoring data collected by DWER, are being used to build a picture of the current state of odour and dust in the area. This analysis will assist us to identify impacts, possible sources and the role local weather conditions are playing. DWER is also considering an appropriate regulatory response, and the final CODMP report will play an important role in devising regulatory strategies to address the issues identified.

Although later than originally hoped, the results from the dust and odour programs are expected to be published during 2020.

We wish to thank the 69 volunteers who logged their odour and dust reports last year and look forward to sharing DWER’s reports with them later this year. The program would not have been successful without their involvement.

What now?

CCL was required by its licence to conduct an investigation into the source and cause of the odour from the Munster premises and submit a report to Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) by 1 August 2019. The report was required to include the outcomes of the investigations and propose solutions if determined. The Department received the report on 1 August 2019.

DWER has engaged an international expert in cement and lime manufacturing to conduct a peer-review of CCL’s report.

In addition to the work undertaken as part of the Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan as described above, DWER has also been conducting its own dust and odour analysis and investigations. This includes:

  • DWER's internal consideration of CCL's report and further research and deliberation regarding potential sources of odour emissions; and
  • investigation into emissions that occurred during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 summer period.

DWER has notified CCL of its intent to soon commence a scientifically robust and evidence-based review of licence L4533/1967/15 based on all the information now available. This process may identify and review measures to mitigate the risk of odour impacts on the local community; and if necessary, specify odour emission controls to ensure they are effective and efficient in mitigating the potential odour impacts from the Munster facility. Impacts of dust will also be considered as part of the licence review.

Once the licence review is complete CCL will have an opportunity to comment on a draft amended licence. Any amended licence will be published along with relevant information that indicates the basis for the review and the position that has been reached. A standard 21-day appeal period will commence following the grant of any amended licence.

DWER is working towards finalising the review with sufficient time to enable any requirements imposed by a licence amendment to be implemented in advance of the 2020/21 summer period.

Investigation of odour and dust impacts

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

DWER has initiated prosecution action against CCL relating to alleged unreasonable emissions (odour) between January and April 2019 under section 49(5) of the EP Act.

Penalties of up to $125,000 for each offence may be imposed for a body corporate on conviction.

The prosecution follows several years of investigations by the department into ongoing complaints about odour and dust in the Cockburn area.

As the matter is before the courts, the department is unable to provide further details. The next court appearance is scheduled for 2 November 2020 at the Perth Magistrates Court.

Frequently asked questions

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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 odours can impact people’s lives, we investigate all matters thoroughly and increase our patrols to identify the source of odours when necessary. Once we have compiled all the available information following the various initiatives undertaken 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

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DWER will update this page as new information comes to hand. If you have concerns or would like more information, please call the Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782.


 Updated September 2020

Page reviewed 23 February 2021