Australia: pressure on Cockburn

Australia: pressure on Cockburn
Published: 19 May 2010

Cockburn Cement (a member of the Adelaide Brighton Group) has defended its environmental management record at its Munster lime and cement manufacturing facility after coming under fire from the City of Cockburn and local residents.

In its submission to a state government review, the city has called on the company to invest in new technology or vacate the site within five years.

“Although (the company) frequently promises to make improvements, their emissions appear to be getting worse,” the city’s submission said.

The state government is reviewing a new licence for the company, which could include a requirement for it to close kilns if agreed dust target levels are exceeded.

Some of the main licence issues to be assessed include: the reduction of dust limits; the reduction of odour outside the premises; an improved understanding of the causes of dust deposition and odour; and proposals to further reduce dust and odour by comparing current dust abatement technology to industry standards.

Department of Environment and Conservation director of environmental regulation, Kerry Laszig, said in a statement there had been more than 50 dust and odour complaints this year.

“Clearly we need to address dust and odour issues at the facility, which continues to be a source of community concern, with DEC receiving more than 50 dust and odour complaints to date this year,” Ms Laszig said.

Darrin Strange, who heads Cockburn Cement’s operations in his capacity as Adelaide Brighton general manager operations in Western Australia and South Australia, said the company operated within the environmental limits set by the current licence, and emission levels were well within recognised national and international health guidelines.

He also pointed to increased urban development around the factory since its establishment 60 years ago, which has spurred the company to treat environmental concerns as a higher priority.

“In the nearly 60 years since the Munster plant was built, increasing numbers of people have been encouraged to live in areas adjoining the site. As a result, Cockburn Cement is focused on making ongoing improvements in its environmental management as nearby property development continues to increase urban density on the northern edge of the Kwinana Industrial Zone,” Mr Strange said

Cockburn Cement’s commitment to the environment includes participation in an environmental improvement group made up of representatives from neighbouring communities, who guide the company’s Environmental Improvement Plan.

Communication with the community in 2009 encouraged the EIP board to foot the bill for various projects, including AUD$100,000 on the installation of an odour emission control system, AUD$400,000 on a new road sweeper, AUD$80,000 on tree planting and rehabilitation of quarry areas, and AUD$75,000 on dust suppression of stockpiles, quarries and roads.