Cockburn Cement “complacent” over health concerns

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A year long Parliamentary inquiry into Cockburn Cement has found the company was complacent towards complaints by the community about dust and odour emissions.

The WA Upper House Environmental and Public Affairs standing committee today tabled a 400-page report into the company’s operations.

It said Cockburn Cement was primarily responsible for the emissions, but it also criticised the state Government’s handling of the issue.

According to The West Australian the committee said Government agencies had failed to properly monitor the company and had not addressed planning issues associated with the plant’s production.

The committee said the Government should cut the plant’s maximum dust emissions from 150 grams per cubic metre to 30.

According to The West Australian, this level could only be achieved with the use of bag-house filters.

WA environment minister Bill Marmion had initially forced Cockburn Cement to put the filter on one of its kilns, but last month the company successfully overturned the decision.

After the move Cockburn MP Fran Logan said local residents had felt “very betrayed” by Marmion.

Following the criticism Marmion said Cockburn Cement’s licence was up for renewal in March and he would not rule out introducing tougher restrictions on its licence again.

A filter is currently being constructed for kiln six at the plant for a cost of $25 million.

It is due to be completed in the first quarter of next year, and the company said if it was effective it would look at installing similar technology on kiln five.

In a statement the company said it could not comment fully on the committee’s 400 page report until it had been properly read.

However it said it was important to note it had not breached environmental rules.

“The company has been and remains in compliance with its licence for the Munster site,” it said.

“It has not breached licence conditions.”

“Emissions limits at the sire have become steadily stricter during the past decade and as a result emissions levels have also fallen.”

Logan said while the report gave a good outline of the Cockburn Cement problem its recommendations needed to go further.

Marmion said although he had previously moved to tighten restrictions on the plant the Department of Environment and Conservation would review the committee’s recommendations and report to him by November.

Image: PerthNow — Theo Fakos

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