A 90-metre-long dust fence at the port of Geraldton appears to have improved air quality around the port since its installation last year.

The fence is part of a port-wide program of dust improvement initiatives at Mid West Ports. MPWA claims it is the first fence of its kind in Australia installed at a port.

In April 2023 MWPA contracted Dust Solutions International (DSI) to install a DustTamer fence along Marine Terrace, and so far, the results have been positive.

Preliminary monitoring data from the fence suggests PM10 concentrations (particles that are unhealthy when inhaled) downwind of the fence reduced by 50%.

Peak PM10 concentrations have largely been eliminated and the fence is acting to reduce background dust generated from areas south of Marine Terrace.

“The DustTamer fence is displaying extremely positive results, and with the windy summer months upon us, we look forward to further confirming these trends,” MWPA Ports CEO Damian Tully said.

“During 2022/23, Mid West Ports spent $1.1 million on dust reduction initiatives. Our monitoring data is showing that we are seeing an improvement in air quality, confirming our approach to reducing dust emissions is working.”

DSI representative Dave McMillan said the fence was custom designed to withstand wind speeds of more than 180 kilometres per hour.

“It aims to minimise wind impacts by maintaining balanced air pressure on both sides of the fence, this will reduce particle uptake from the sheltered stockpile and rail corridor from being carried into the Fishing Boat Harbour,” he said.

In the past 12 months MWPA has also been working on installation of a dust-reducing cascade chute to Berth 4 loading operations, a dry-fogging installation to Bert 5 loading operations and dust hood installations to the common user truck loader.

Other air quality projects at the port include dust reduction spray bars and baffle curtains to the iron-ore circuit, and a dust extraction system review to inform improvements.

MWPA said its air quality monitoring network demonstrates PM10 dust concentrations have declined since 2021, as a result of these dust reduction initiatives.