THE DUTY TO REPORT CONTAMINATION GUIDELINES - HOW MIGHT THE UPDATED GUIDELINES AFFECT YOU?
The duty to report contamination to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) arises when land (which includes soil, groundwater and soil vapour) is contaminated by a substance present at levels in exceedance of those dictated by the EPA for a particular land use. The duty to report is specified under the EPA Guidelines, Guidelines on the Duty to Report Contamination under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (July 2015). Last year, EPA undertook a review of the Guidelines. The updated Duty to Report Guidelines can be downloaded from the EPA’s website: www.epa.nsw.gov.au/clm/150164-land-contamination.htm
The updated Guidelines outline new notification triggers for soil and groundwater contamination in accordance with the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure, (ASC NEPM) 1999 (as amended 2013). In many cases these have more stringent criteria and may result in the need to report contaminated land to EPA where the contamination present may not have previously triggered a duty to notify.
A significant inclusion to the 2015 Guidelines is the guidance for asbestos in, or on, soil, vapour intrusion and air quality. This means that sites where friable asbestos is present, or where there is a risk associated with the vapour inhalation pathway, or where contaminated soil and groundwater may impact on air quality, may now need to report the site to the EPA.
The “surface water and groundwater discharging into surface water” notification trigger has been removed from the guidelines. However, this omission may not spare your site from a duty to notify EPA if the concentrations in the surface water or groundwater are above the investigation levels specified in the ASC NEPM.