The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is working to achieve the transfer of the Port Hedland Ambient Air Quality Network this year, PHIC CEO Kirsty Danby told the Community Industry Forum’s August meeting.

Kirsty said PHIC would continue to maintain the Network and has a month-to-month contract in place with Ecotech to cover monitoring until DWER takes over responsibility of the Network.

Kirsty said PHIC remained committed to the ongoing maintenance of key Network sites to ensure the collection of robust and reliable air quality data for the Port Hedland region in the lead up to the transfer of the Network to DWER and will hand over the Network to DWER in good working order.

“DWER has requested that an additional site is added to the Air Quality Network — taking the network monitors from eight to nine,” Kirsty said.

“Known as the hospital site, it has been included on the live monitoring network although technically it is not part of the PHIC Network, it is owned by BHP.

“PHIC and BHP have agreed to DWER’s request for the hospital monitoring site to be transferred in addition to the eight monitors that make up the PHIC monitoring Network.”

Kirsty said 2021 would be the last time time PHIC presented its Annual Report to the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science, and Innovation, in accordance with the Taskforce requirements.

The following financial year will be reported by DWER.

“We are in the process of developing our Annual Report.  The process is for Ecotech to provide all datasets to our independent consultants and air quality specialist, Katestone, who analyse the data and provide a copy of their results,” Kirsty said.

“In the past financial year 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 there was one exceedance of the air monitoring guidelines of 70 micrograms per cubic metre for Port Hedland, on 3 October 2020.  The exceedance was attributed to local industry source as well as a regional event.”

She said PHIC members remained committed to implementing leading dust mitigation practices in Port Hedland and would continue to work with the regulator on the development of best practice dust management guidelines for port operators.

The CIF was also addressed by Department of Health Senior Scientific Officer Environmental Health Peter Franklin; Pilbara Ports Authority General Manager Marine Philip Christy; Port Hedland Seafarers Centre Chairman Caiden Gray; and Hedland Maritime Initiative Managing Director Karlene Bylund.

Dr Franklin gave an overview of the health effects of dust and risk in terms of the Port Hedland Risk Assessment Survey and the difference between environmental and occupational standards.

He said the process of setting air quality standards involved considering a range of scientific, social, economic and political issues. In many cases the final standards were a balance of all of these issues and were set with an inherent level of human health risk associated with them.

The intention was to protect the vast majority of an exposed population from serious health effects. However, an air quality standard did not necessarily protect all of the people, all of the time, from all possible health effects.

Having no identified threshold complicates the setting of standards, as it requires the assumption of a level of risk that is ‘acceptable’.

Monitoring to NEPM standards is for regions with a population greater than 25,000.

In relation to PM10, the number of affected individuals was very low, but only because the population is small.

Even though risks were small, a public health response required strategies to minimise exposure, including ensuring dust is managed as much as possible, that the number of people exposed are restricted, and to move people away from areas of high exposure.

 Mr Gray provided an update on early stages of the new seafarers’ centre.

A demolition tender for the existing building on the site of the new centre at 3 Richardson Street was issued in early August, with the aim of having the building demolished before the cyclone season.

Concept designs are being developed and there are ongoing discussions with potential financial contributors, with an opportunity for industry and other interested parties to be part of the development.


PHIC Community Industry Forum is currently seeking Expressions of Interest from members of the Port Hedland community to participate in PHIC’s Community Industry Forum. The current vacancy is for an individual member of the Port Hedland Community.

EOI applicants must reside within the Town of Port Hedland, be passionate about Port Hedland and its future and be available to attend quarterly meetings to discuss community and industry related issues.

Please contact Chantel Cullen at
or 0477 477 257 by
15th October 2021 to be part of this unique opportunity.

Visit to find out more about PHIC’s Community Industry Forum.