EPA issues advice on Mandogalup buffer size

Release date: 
02 August 2017

The Environmental Protection Authority has released advice on buffer size for urban development in Mandogalup, a suburb in the City of Kwinana.

The existing Kwinana Buffer in Mandogalup is based on a fixed distance from the edge of Alcoa of Australia’s bauxite residue disposal area (RDA), immediately to the west of the area.

Releasing the EPA’s advice, Chairman Tom Hatton said the potential for health and amenity impacts from dust varies across the Mandogalup area and is primarily dictated by the prevailing winds. The risk of impacts from dust is not a set distance from the RDA boundary Dr Hatton said.

The key findings in the EPA’s advice include:

  • The eastern area of Mandogalup is located sufficiently far away from the RDA, and outside the predominant wind field that generates dust from the RDA, that there is negligible health risk and low likelihood of unreasonable amenity impacts in this area; and
  • Air quality in the north and north-east Mandogalup area does not appear to meet recently revised national air quality goals for particulates. This is likely due to a combination of dust from Alcoa’s RDA, and sand and limestone quarrying in the area.

The EPA has consulted with the Department of Health regarding its findings on air quality in the north and north-eastern Mandogalup area and it has advised that air quality does not pose an immediate health risk for the area. But the department agrees with the EPA that there is a need for further investigations to determine the principal sources of dust impacting air quality in the area and for corrective measures to be undertaken if practicable.

Dr Hatton said that for land use planning in the area the potential for health and amenity impacts from dust was best considered by dividing it into four areas as follows:

Map of buffer areas at Mandogalup

  • Area A: located sufficiently away from the RDA and outside the predominant wind field that generates dust. Negligible health risk and low likelihood of unreasonable amenity impacts.
  • Area B: outside the predominant wind field that generates dust. Unlikely health risk or unreasonable amenity impacts however there is no current air quality monitoring in the area and modelling results are not as reliable. Air quality monitoring should be undertaken to confirm if health risks are negligible and amenity impacts are unlikely. Should the westernmost portions of the current RDA drying beds (RDA Area F) cease operations, this would further reduce the likelihood of amenity impacts.
  • Area C: air quality does not appear to meet the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) goal for particulates smaller than 10 microns (PM10). Dust events from the RDA may cause occasional amenity impacts. RDA drying bed F is immediately upwind of this area. If closed, air quality may meet the NEPM goal and the likelihood of dust events causing amenity impacts will be substantially reduced. Further investigation required.
  • Area D: air quality does not appear to meet NEPM air quality goal for PM10. Dust events may cause occasional amenity impacts. Further investigation needed to determine sources of dust and corrective measures undertaken if practicable to achieve the NEPM goal.

The EPA’s Report “Consideration of potential health and amenity impacts of dust in determining the size of a buffer for urban development in the Mandogalup area” is now with the Minister for Environment and is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au . A Supplementary report setting out information considered by the EPA in undertaking its review is also available at www.epa.wa.gov.au.

Background:

  • In June 2016, the former Minister for Environment requested the EPA provide advice on the size of a land use planning buffer relating to health and amenity impacts of dust, now and into the future, in respect of potential urban development in the Mandogalup area. The request stemmed from the previous Government’s consideration of establishing legislation to control new sensitive land uses in the vicinity of the Kwinana industrial area.
  • The EPA met with landowners and government and industry stakeholders and considered technical reports, meteorological data, air quality monitoring, 57 public submissions and information from neighbouring Alcoa, including environmental licence compliance reports and the company’s long term residue management strategies for the residue disposal area (RDA).
  • This advice principally focuses on the technical aspects of the generation of dust in the Mandogalup area and its potential for health and amenity impacts. The EPA recognises that there are other matters which may be taken into consideration in determining appropriate buffer size to separate urban development and industrial activities.

Media Contact: Fiona Adolph 0400 866 450