Coal on cement plant backburner

Cockburn Cements Munster plant will continuing burning coal until 2024. 
Picture credit: Calistemon, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Cockburn Cement’s Munster plant will continuing burning coal until 2024. Picture credit: Calistemon, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

A Munster cement company, that is the subject of dust and odour complaints, has failed to stop burning coal three years after promising to end its use.

This month, Cockburn Cement Limited, which is owned and run by construction material company Adbri, admitted that it has broken a promise to stop using coal to fire its cement kilms by 2021.

“We acknowledge that we have made a previous commitment to phase out coal at Munster by 2021, which we have not met,” the company’s 2022 Net Zero Emissions Roadmap states.

“As part of our actions to reduce emissions from lime production, we will stop using coal by the end of calendar year 2024.”

More than 20,000 residents live within 3km of Cockburn Cement’s kiln stacks, in Perth’s southern suburbs.

For many years, the local community have complained that pollution from cement operations stripes paint from cars and cuasing health issues including, blood noses, nausea and headaches.

parliamentary inquiery in 2011 said that: “Hon Francis Logan submitted that many residents living in the vicinity of the Munster Plant have complained to him about sore eyes, blocked noses, sore nasal and throat passages, scabs and bleeding in the nasal passages of children, breathing difficulties and the onset of allergies.”

Cockburn Cement have always maintained that its operations are safe and adhere to government regulations.

“Testing and modelling of stack emissions to ground level concentrations has shown that there are no expected health impacts to the neighbouring population,” Cockburn Cement says in a FAQ sheet.

“Cockburn Cement’s two Kilns have monitors installed, which continuously measure particulate emissions from the stacks.”

But opponents say that burning coal at the plant contributes to pollution issues in the area.

Cockburn Pollution Stoppers want the company to use gas instead.

Adbri said in its report that its medium-term target is still aligned with the 2021 Global Cement and Concrete Association of 20 per cent reduction in cement emissions by 2030.

Department of Water and Environmental Regulations (DWER) spokesman said that despite postponing the phasing out of coal, the company is still operating within the correct regulations.

“The department’s assessment of CCL’s Munster premises in 2016 concluded that there are unlikely to be impacts from air emissions caused by the combustion of coal as emissions meet relevant standards and health criteria.

“The current license for CCL Munster does not prevent the continued use of coal at the premises,” they said.

CPS announced the proposal of moving a shell sand feeder would result in increased odour emission but, the DWER disagreed.

“A works approval was granted to CCL in August 2021 for it (cockburn cement) to trial a change to the feed location of shell sand into the kiln. In granting the works approval, the department was satisfied the proposal would not result in any increase in odour emission or odour impacts in the community,” the spokesperson said.