- Current Issues
- Take Action
- Bills Introduced 2012
- Bills debated
- Budget Estimates Hearings
- Committee Reports
- Disallowance Motions
- Guide to Petitions
- How we can help
- Learn About Parliament
- Motions Debated
- Questions on Notice
- Questions without Notice 2009
- Questions without Notice 2010
- Questions without Notice 2011
Kwinana industrial air buffer zone - Alcoa operations
Extract from Hansard
[COUNCIL — Tuesday, 22 November 2011]
Hon Lynn MacLaren; Hon Helen Morton
KWINANA INDUSTRIAL AIR BUFFER ZONE — ALCOA OPERATIONS
4843. Hon Lynn MacLaren to the Minister for Mental Health representing the Minister for Health
In regard to the decision recently to extend the Kwinana Industrial Air Buffer Zone made by the Western
Australian Planning Commission in September 2010 —
(1) Does the Department of Health recommend that residents in the affected area and surrounds drink and
cook with rainwater from their rainwater tanks?
(2) What independent monitoring and long-term assessments of the health impact of Alcoa’s operations in
the area are presently taking place?
(3) How has the Department of Health satisfied itself that it is safe to grow vegetables commercially in the
area (some of which is exported) for human consumption?
(4) Is it safe to operate child care facilities (like family day care in the area)?
(5) Have any independent impact statements and/or assessments been conducted regarding the current and
projected impact of Alcoa’s operations in the area?
(6) If yes to (5), please provide details.
(7) What independent assessments of Alcoa’s operations in the area are planned in the future?
(8) What are the known health risks in the affected area?
Hon HELEN MORTON replied:
(1) The Department of Health (DOH) in general advises that households that rely on rainwater tanks as
their main source of drinking water should observe good tank hygiene practices and regularly test their
water supply. Sampling undertaken within the new buffer zone has not found any contamination of
rainwater by heavy metals.
(2) None. The buffer is standard planning practice designed to separate industry from residential estates to
protect public health from industrial emissions from all industry in the area.
(3) Vegetables grown for commercial purposes are tested for contaminants and natural toxicants under the
Food Standards code. It is normal practice for the DOH to be notified when guidelines are
exceeded. Dust analysis has not found contamination by heavy metals.
(4) The DOH’s standard advice is that child health care facilities or child day care centres should not
operate inside any industrial buffer zone. Where such facilities already exist due to previous planning
decisions, the DOH advises steps to improve indoor air quality such as installing or upgrading air
conditioning systems that can help reduce overall exposure to dust.
(5)–(6) Yes. Air quality modelling and monitoring of Alcoa’s dust emissions has been undertaken.
Environmental consultants undertook this work and concluded that dust from the drying ponds may
impact areas within 2.0 km. The magnitude of dust impact was found to decrease with distance from the
(7) None by the DOH. The Department of Environment and Conservation, as the State regulator, has the
responsibility to ensure Alcoa meets its environmental obligations in terms of pollution control.
(8) Health risks for the area are those normally associated with exposure to dust. Some individuals,
particularly those with asthma or pre-existing respiratory conditions, may be adversely affected by dust
while others will not be affected despite living in the same area for many years. Individuals vary in their
sensitivity to dust; therefore, anyone concerned that dust from the area may be having an adverse
impact on their health should seek a medical opinion from their doctor regarding managing their health.