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 to ensure that the health and amenity of the community is protected.

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.

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), 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 is Happening Now?

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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 form part of the ongoing investigation into emissions in the Cockburn area, and as this information is currently being used as part of a prosecution it is not appropriate to release any results at this time.'

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 once the prosecution is finalised.

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; and
  • 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 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.  Once this review is complete, DWER will commence an additional review that will focus on dust emissions and impacts.

Once each licence review is complete CCL will have an opportunity to comment on any draft amendments to its 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 granting of any amended licence.

Investigation of odour and dust impacts

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

DWER is prosecuting CCL for alleged unreasonable emissions (odour) between January and April 2019 under section 49(5) of the EP Act.

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

A trial date has been scheduled for 25 July to 12 August 2022. Penalties of up to $125,000 for each offence may be imposed for a body corporate on conviction.

Works approval application – CCL process feed modification odour treatment

DWER recently received an application for works approval from CCL proposing a change in the location where shell sand is fed into the process which CCL predict will reduce odour emissions from the lime kilns.

The application was referred to registered stakeholders for comment and advertised on DWER’s website. The public comment period was extended and closed on 14 June 2021. DWER will assess the application consistent with its Regulatory Framework and determine whether to grant or refuse to grant a works approval.  A standard 21-day appeal period will commence following DWER’s decision on the works approval.

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 in care and maintenance for 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

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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 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?

We will continue to conduct patrols and we encourage people to report odours to our Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782.

More information

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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.


Page reviewed 5 October 2021