A series of investigations into the Port Hedland Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network commissioned by PHIC after inconsistent readings were confirmed at the Taplin Street monitor have been completed.

Data discrepancies were identified by Ecotech, which maintains and operates the Network, on 15 January 2020 and confirmed on 23 January 2020.

PHIC commissioned a series of checks of the Taplin Street monitoring station when it did not record any days above the 24-hour average interim guideline for PM10 of 70 μg/m³, a result that was included in the AAQMN Annual Report. The report has subsequently been amended to delete the Taplin Street data because the results were considered unreliable.

New monitors were installed at Taplin Street and readings have been consistent.

At the same time, a series of investigations were commissioned in a bid to determine the cause of the inconsistent readings, revalidate data from the Network, and assess Ecotech’s management of the Network.

The investigations included:

  • BAM testing.
  • Taplin Street equipment sent to US manufacturers for calibration and testing.
  • Hi-Volume testing at each monitoring station in the Network.
  • An independent audit by GHD of Ecotech’s management of the Network.

The US manufacturers found no faults with the Taplin Street equipment, and GHD found that Ecotech had met or exceeded Australian Standards in its management of the Network.

The Hi-Volume testing revealed the new Taplin Street monitor and six other monitors in the Network show good correlation and that results are within limits.

There has been a delay in testing of the Kingsmill monitor because of access to mains power. Tested is expected to be completed this month.

PHIC has a long history of proactively undertaking internal and independent data validations. Questioning the 2018/2019 data is consistent with that approach.

The Network is being transferred to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

PHIC supports the transfer of the Network, has been working with DWER to achieve this outcome, and supports any move that would fast-track this process.