Tougher rules for Cockburn Cement plant

Western Australian Environment Minister Bill Marmion has announced tough new environmental restrictions on the Cockburn Cement plant in Munster following years of complaints, government reports and a parliamentary inquiry.

The issues have centred on the environmental and health impact of the plant, where noxious odours and white powder has spilled from for years.

The new environmental condition imposed on the company’s operating license includes an obligation to ensure both its lime kilns have pollution-controlled equipment fitted, The West Australian reports.

The kilns at the site are the biggest in the world.

Following a government directive in December, the company spent $23 million on a plan to fit the technology to one kiln by next March.

The decision yesterday means similar measures will need to be placed on the other kiln by the end of 2012.

The company says the impacts are not its fault, but rather rests with governments for allowing residential development close to the plant that has been there since 1955.

Marmion said polluters have a responsibility to limit emissions, and under the new conditions the company will be required to stop feeding raw materials into any kiln within five minutes of emissions exceeding the set dust level.

"They cannot start the feed again until they have reported to the Department of Environment and Conservation," Marmion told The West Australian

"In relation to odour, Cockburn Cement will become responsible for monitoring and reporting odour emissions."

Cockburn Labor MP Fran Logan welcomed the announcement.
"It’s an example of what can be achieved by community pressure,
both on Cockburn Cement, which is the polluter, and the Government, whose job it is to regulate them," he said.

A local resident who lives one street away from the plant told The West Australian he was sceptical about whether the company would abide by the new restrictions.

"In the past (environmental conditions) haven’t worried Cockburn Cement," Denis Mason said.

"The smell makes your eyes water and your nose run."

Cockburn Cement WA operations manager Darrin Strange said the company could not comment because it had not had time to scrutinise the conditions.

Image: Chemlink

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