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.

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Cockburn Cement Limited (CCL)

CCL's cement and lime manufacturing plant in Munster has been licensed (L4533/1967/15) under Part V, Division 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) since 1987.

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 targeted at combustion efficiency
  • 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.

The 2016 amended licence was appealed and following the Environment Minister’s Appeal Determination, (see Appeal 1 and Appeal 2) in 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.

A new amended licence was granted on 11 January 2019.

To further investigate the extent of dust and odour issues, DWER undertook 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, their concentrations and the tracking of dust plumes. Dust deposition samples collected between March and May 2019 were analysed by the ChemCentre. 

The key findings the Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan were:

  • CCL was confirmed as one of several odour sources impacting the community
  • there were several dust sources impacting the community, making it difficult to clearly identify the specific sources.

The results from the CODMP form part of the ongoing investigation into emissions in the Cockburn area. DWER acknowledges the efforts of 69 community volunteers who logged their odour and dust reports in 2019.

On 30 May 2019, an agreement was reached that resulted in CCL withdrawing its judicial review application and the licence was subsequently amended. A copy of the 30 May 2019 Amendment Report is available.

In August 2019, CCL submitted a report (as a condition of its licence) that identified the source and cause of the odour from the Munster premises and proposed solutions where appropriate. DWER subsequently engaged an international expert in cement and lime manufacturing to conduct a peer-review of CCL’s report.

Further to the Cockburn Area Air Monitoring Plan, DWER also conducted its own dust and odour analysis and investigations. This included:

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

In January 2020, DWER commenced a further licence review based on the odour investigations conducted by CCL and DWER. The review will consider the results of CCL’s process feed modification odour treatment trials (refer to section under ‘What is Happening Now?’), and other relevant information to determine the most appropriate regulatory pathway to address odour emissions.

The CCL licence was most recently amended on 28 February 2023 to extend its duration until 30 March 2024. A copy of the 28 February 2023 Amendment Report is available.

What is Happening Now?

Enforcement action

On 9 March 2023, CCL was fined $290,000 after being found guilty of allowing unreasonable emissions (odour) from its premises in Munster on six occasions between January and April 2019. Details of the prosecution can be found on the DWER announcements page.

The Court was satisfied that the odour experienced by nearby residents was unreasonable and that CCL was the source of the odour.  The prosecution followed several years of investigations by DWER into ongoing complaints about odour and dust in the Cockburn area.

On 5 April 2023, CCL appealed the conviction and sentence concerning the 2019 charges to the Supreme Court.  On 8 September 2023, the Supreme Court upheld the convictions but reduced the fine from $290,000 to $245,000.

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 20 November 2023 at the Perth Magistrates Court.

Investigation of odour and dust impacts

DWER continues to investigate on-going reports of odour in the local community and where appropriate will take further action to address any on-going unreasonable odour impacts. DWER is working with CCL to identify opportunities to further mitigate odour emissions from its operations including granting approval for CCL to trial an engineering solution.

Works approval application – CCL process feed modification odour treatment

On 30 May 2023, CCL submitted a report on the commissioning trials of the shell sand feed modification. The trials relate to a works approval (W6533/2021/1) granted in August 2021 for CCL to make modifications to the Kiln 6 shell sand feed location with the intention of reducing odour emissions from Kiln 6. CCL concluded its commissioning trials and testing phase of the project on 28 April 2023.

The report is currently being reviewed by DWER to determine the suitability of the change in shell sand feed location for the ongoing mitigation of odour emissions. DWER’s review will include the results of odour and air emission monitoring conducted during the trial.

Works approval application – CCL prilling of Lime Kiln Dust

On 29 June 2023, CCL submitted a works approval application for the construction of infrastructure to process lime kiln dust from kiln 5 and kiln 6 into small spheres by adding water and agitating (prilling) the material. CCL’s intention is to make the lime kiln dust less dusty and reduce dust emissions from the lime kiln dust disposal area.  The application was advertised for public comment on 24 July 2023 and the comment period has now closed. DWER is currently assessing the application.

Clinker kiln decommissioning

DWER understands that the demolition of the clinker kilns has significantly progressed. 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. The decommissioning is occurring in accordance with a Decommissioning Plan that meets CCL’s State Agreement Act obligations and is administered by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation. Noise and dust emissions arising from the decommissioning of the kilns is 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 relevant news, and any planned or completed actions to reduce odour.

How will you ensure the site is performing the way it should be?

DWER recognises that dust and odour emissions can impact people’s lives. DWER investigates all matters thoroughly and will conduct patrols to identify the source of odours when necessary. Our licence review relating to odour is considering all the available information and evaluating how effectively CCL is controlling odours and whether any further changes are required. When we finalise this review, we will discuss all changes directly with the community.

What can I do to help DWER reduce odours in my area?

DWER aims to achieve the best outcome for everyone in the community and reduce these odours. We appreciate and encourage people to report 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 immediately report it to our Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782.

More information

DWER 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, go to the odour reporting webpage. For dust, go to the dust reporting webpage.

The Department of Health has published information including frequently asked questions in relation to air pollution and health associated with emissions from Cockburn Cement. Go to general information and the frequently asked questions.