Cockburn Cement: fresh investigation into dust complaints

Paul Lange of Beeliar. Picture: Jon Hewson
Paul Lange of Beeliar. Picture: Jon Hewson

THERE is a fresh investigation into dust in Cockburn’s south.

The Department of Environment Regulation (DER) told the Gazette it received two complaints from Beeliar residents about dust on cars on September 5.

“DER inspected the area on the same day, observing dust on five vehicles, before taking samples for analysis,” a DER spokesman said.

The spokesman said the samples would be analysed to find the source or sources of the powdery substance, with the results expected within a couple of weeks.

“Any decision to release these results will be subject to further investigation,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the Department had received two other complaints about dust in the past two months.

Beeliar resident resident Paul Lange has lived on East Churchill Avenue for five months and prompted the DER’s latest consideration of an issue that has been ongoing for years.

Like many before him, Mr Lange believed the culprit was Munster company Cockburn Cement, based about 1.5kms away from his home.

He said a film of dust continually built up on his car and home.

“It’s like I’ve been to the North Pole and the ice hasn’t melted,” he said.

Mr Lange said the dust is easy to wash off, but a stain remains.

“You can feel the paint isn’t what it was and there’s a white residue left afterwards,” he said.

“This isn’t a coincidence or a freak act of nature.”

Mr Lange said he was told testing by Cockburn Cement had found just 7 per cent of the dust on his property could be attributed to them, with the surrounding environment blamed for the rest.

He was not able to look over the results himself.

A spokeswoman for Cockburn Cement said its plant is near other industries, market gardens, unsealed areas and new residential developments, meaning there could be any number of reasons for the spike.

“Results of test samples from Mr Lange’s car on August 30 suggest that it is predominantly soil which is the typical soil composition in the local area,” she said.

“Cockburn Cement have ambient air quality monitors located within our plant boundary and in the local community and an analysis of those monitors did not indicate an event during that period.”

She said the company had taken “considerable action” over the last five years to improve its operation.

That included spending more than $50 million on bag filters for two lime producing kilns, ceasing clinker production in two other kilns at the end of 2014 and reducing activity on site.

“Dust emissions from the site have, as a consequence of these actions, been reduced to extremely low levels, as evidenced by continuous dust monitoring at and around the site,” she said.

The company chose not to comment on the DER sampling.