Significantly Contaminated Sites
Significantly contaminated sites occur primarily in areas used for service stations and other petroleum industrial sites, chemical, metal and other industrial sites and former gasworks and landfill sites. Most of the large-scale contaminated sites in NSW are the result of historical industrial activities which are now banned or strictly controlled. The remediation of many contaminated sites requires a long, complex and costly process to remediate due to the scale and nature of the contamination. An example of this is the decontamination of a small section of the former Millers Point Gasworks at Barangaroo, estimated to cost $50 to 100 million.
Contaminants at these sites include high concentrations of heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and more. Such levels of contaminants pose a risk to environmental and human health, and if not detected, can have devastating effects such as certain cancers and developmental disorders. In addition, contaminated land may limit potential land use and add to economic strain to developers and councils.
The Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) deals with sites that have contamination levels significant enough to warrant regulation due to the site’s current or approved use. The data recorded include the types and levels of contaminants and remediation at the significantly contaminated sites.
Significantly contaminated sites are published in a public record in the Government Gazette to notify the landowner, polluter, land occupant and local council or authority. Local authorities then record this information on property planning certificates issued under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (149 certificate).
It is important to note that in NSW, the clean-up and remediation costs must be borne by the polluter where they can be identified, or by the landowner if the polluter cannot be identified.
Thus, as land occupants and landowners, awareness of the site’s historical and current land use and adjoining land plays an important role in preventing exposure and risk to human and environmental health.
At Getex, we can assist you with preliminary and detailed site contamination investigations before the purchase of new property and prior to development for peace of mind.
Further information can be found at the EPA.NSW.gov.au.