Cockburn Air Quality

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) continues to investigate complaints of dust and odours impacting the suburbs of Munster, Beeliar and Yangebup in the City of Cockburn to ensure that the health and amenity of the community is protected.

Last updated: 20 February 2023

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. Following licence appeals and judicial reviews the licence L4533/1967/15 was amended on 30 May 2019 following an agreement with CCL.

In March 2022 the licence was amended to extend the duration by 10 months so that DWER can finalise its licence review of odour and determine any licence amendments.

2016 Licence review

In 2016, DWER 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 an odour verification plan undertaken by CCL and assessed by DWER, as well as a DWER ambient air quality study.

On 12 December 2016, DWER issued CCL with an amended licence with new risk-based conditions and specified controls for stack emissions, dust and odour. Conditions included:

  • 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
  • online reporting of fugitive dust levels at the site boundary.

Licence appeals

The 2016 amended licence was appealed and following the Environment Minister’s Appeal Determination, (see Appeal 1 and Appeal 2), a new 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 is Happening Now?

Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan

DWER has been receiving ongoing complaints from the community regarding odours and dust in the Cockburn area for several years. To further investigate, DWER ran the Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan from January to May 2019, involving four programs:

  • Community Odour and Dust Monitoring Program (CODMP) 
  • Odour Patrol Program 
  • Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) 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 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 CCL 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 DWER 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. 

These results formed part of the ongoing investigation into emissions in the Cockburn area. We wish to thank the 69 volunteers who logged their odour and dust reports in 2019 and look forward to sharing DWER’s reports with them soon now that the first prosecution case has been decided (see ‘Enforcement action’ section below).

2020/21 Licence review

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 DWER by 1 August 2019, which it did. The report was required to include the outcomes of the investigations and propose solutions if determined. 

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, 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
  • investigation into emissions that occurred during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 summer period.

DWER has notified CCL and registered community stakeholders that it has commenced an evidence-based review of licence L4533/1967/15 based on 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.  

Once the licence review of odour is complete CCL, stakeholders and the community will have an opportunity to comment on the amendments to the licence. A standard 21-day appeal period will commence following the granting of any amended licence.

DWER is currently completing its review of CCLs submission on the draft review and licence amendments. Once the odour review is complete, DWER will commence an additional review that will focus on dust emissions and impacts.

Enforcement action

On 1 December 2022, CCL was found guilty of six offences of causing unreasonable emissions (odour) between January and April 2019. The Court was satisfied that the odour experienced by nearby residents was unreasonable and that CCL was the source of the odour. The Court did not accept the defences raised by CCL including their assertion that their operating licence permitted them to emit unreasonable odour.

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

Sentencing has been adjourned to a date yet to be determined. The EP Act provides for penalties up to $125,000 for each offence.

DWER welcomes the decision made by Her Honour and extends its thanks to the community for its support and assistance during their investigation.

Following further investigations by DWER into odour complaints, DWER initiated a second prosecution against CCL relating to unreasonable emissions (odour) in January 2022. These charges relate to emissions which are alleged to have occurred between January and April 2020. The next court appearance is scheduled for 24 February 2023 at the Perth Magistrates Court.

Investigation of odour and dust impacts

DWER continues to investigate odour and dust complaints from the community.

Works approval application – CCL process feed modification odour treatment

In August 2021, DWER granted a works approval (W6533/2021/1) to CCL authorising the installation and operation of a trial to make modification to the Kiln 6 shell sand feed location. CCL predict this modification will reduce odour emissions from Kiln 6.

Due to equipment and fabrication delays, CCL applied to extend the duration of the works approval by six months. DWER granted an amended works approval on 15 August 2022. It is understood that CCL are now in a commissioning and testing phase of the project and are required to submit air emission validation monitoring data to DWER at the completion of the trial.

Clinker kiln decommissioning

CCL published a website notification in May 2021 advising that it is undertaking the approval requirements to allow for demolition of the clinker kiln stacks and associated infrastructure. Clinker has not been manufactured at the Munster site since 2014 and the kilns and stacks have been in care and maintenance since that time.

DWER does not have an approval role in relation to the demolition of the clinker kilns. However, it is understood CCL will seek approval for the demolition from the City of Cockburn (the City) and will be subject to conditions on any approval by the City. Following approval by the City, CCL is required to submit a Decommissioning Plan to the Minister for State Development under its State Agreement Act obligations administered by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

The risk of noise and dust emissions from the decommissioning of the kilns can be adequately regulated under the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 and the general provisions of the EP Act, as well as existing dust conditions on the current licence.

Frequently asked questions

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 conduct patrols (N to identify the source of odours when necessary. Our licence review is considering all the information we hold and reassessing how the company is controlling odours and whether any further changes are required. When we finalise this review, we will discuss all changes directly with the community just as we are doing now.

What can I do to help DWER 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?

If you are impacted by odours  we encourage people to report odours to our Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782.

More information

The department will update this page as new information comes to hand. 

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 form can be used to lodge complaints after the impact has occurred. For odour reports, click here. For dust reports, click here.