The list of NSW contaminated sites notified to the EPA as of 15 October 2019 is available for download in PDF and Excel format. Read the disclaimer.
A strategy to systematically prioritise, assess and respond to notifications under Section 60 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) has been developed by the EPA. This strategy acknowledges the EPA’s obligations to make information available to the public under Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
When a site is notified to the EPA, it may be accompanied by detailed site reports where the owner has been proactive in addressing the contamination and its source. However, often there is minimal information on the nature or extent of the contamination.
After receiving a report, the first step is to confirm that the report does not relate to a pollution incident. The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) deals with pollution incidents, waste stockpiling or dumping. The EPA also has an incident management process to manage significant incidents.
In many cases, the information indicates the contamination is securely immobilised within the site, such as under a building or carpark, and is not currently causing any significant risks for the community or environment. Such sites may still need to be cleaned up, but this can be done in conjunction with any subsequent building or redevelopment of the land. These sites do not require intervention under the CLM Act, and are dealt with through the planning and development consent process. In these cases, the EPA informs the local council or other planning authority, so that the information can be recorded and considered at the appropriate time.
Where indications are that the contamination could cause actual harm to the environment or an unacceptable offsite impact (i.e. the land is 'significantly contaminated'), the EPA would apply the regulatory provisions of the CLM Act to have the responsible polluter and/or landowner investigate and remediate the site. If the reported contamination could present an immediate or long-term threat to human health, NSW Health will be consulted. SafeWork NSW and Water NSW can also be consulted if there appear to be occupational health and safety risks or an impact on groundwater quality.
As such, the sites notified to the EPA and presented in the list of contaminated sites notified to the EPA are at various stages of the assessment and remediation process. Understanding the nature of the underlying contamination, its implications and implementing a remediation program where required, can take a considerable period of time. The list provides an indication, in relation to each nominated site, as to the management status of that particular site. Further detailed information may be available from the EPA or the person who notified the site.
The following questions and answers may assist those interested in this issue.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between the 'List of NSW contaminated sites notified to EPA' and the 'Contaminated Land: Record of Notices'?
A site will be on the Contaminated Land: Record of Notices only if the EPA has issued a regulatory notice in relation to the site under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.
The sites appearing in the list of NSW contaminated sites notified to the EPA indicate that the notifiers consider that the sites are contaminated and warrant reporting to EPA. However, the contamination may or may not be significant enough to warrant regulation by the EPA. The EPA needs to review and, if necessary, obtain more information before it can make a determination as to whether the site warrants regulation.
Why does my site appear on the list?
Your site appears on the list for one or more of the following reasons
The site owner and/or the person partly or fully responsible for causing the contamination notified the EPA about the contamination under Section 60 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997. In other words, the site owner or the 'polluter' believes the site is contaminated.
The EPA has been notified via other means and is satisfied that the site is or was contaminated.
Does the list contain all contaminated sites in NSW?
No. The list only contains contaminated sites that EPA is aware of, with regard to its regulatory role under the CLM Act. An absence of a site from the list does not necessarily mean the site is not contaminated.
The EPA relies upon responsible parties to notify contaminated sites.
How are notified contaminated sites managed by the EPA?
There are different ways that the EPA manages these notified contaminated sites. First, an initial assessment is carried out by the EPA. At the completion of the initial assessment, the EPA may take one or more than one of the following management approaches:
The contamination warrants the EPA's direct regulatory intervention either under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 or the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act), or both. Information about current or past regulatory action on this site can be found on the EPA website.
The contamination with respect to the current use or approved use of the site, as defined under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997, is not significant enough that it warrants EPA regulation.
The contamination does not require EPA regulation and can be managed by a planning approval process.
The contamination is related to an operational underground petroleum storage system, such as a service station or fuel depot. The contamination may be managed under the POEO Act and the Protection of the Environment Operation (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014.
Note: There are specific instances where contamination is managed under a specifically tailored program operated by another agency. For example the Division of Resources & Geoscience's Derelict Mines Program and the NSW DPI Cattle tick dip site locator.
The Legacy contamination management procedures for these sites will be detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSW EPA, NSW Resources and Energy and Dept. Primary Industries (Crown Lands and Biosecurity) (Note: the MoU is currently in draft).
I am the owner of a site that appears on the list. What should I do?
First of all, you should ensure the current use of the site is compatible with the site contamination. Secondly, if the site is the subject of EPA regulation, make sure you comply with the regulatory requirements, and you have considered your obligations to notify other parties who may be affected.
If you have any concerns, contact us and we may be able to offer you general advice, or direct you to accredited professionals who can assist with specific issues.
I am a prospective buyer of a site that appears on the list. What should I do?
You should seek advice from the vendor to put the contamination issue into perspective. You may need to seek independent expert advice.
The information provided in the list, particularly the EPA site management class, is meant to be indicative only, and a starting point for your own assessment. Site contamination as a legacy of past site uses is not uncommon, particularly in an urban environment. If the contamination on a site is properly remediated or managed, it may not materially impact upon the intended future use of the site. However, each site needs to be considered in context.
Who can I contact if I need more information about a site?
If you have questions about a site on the list of sites notified to the EPA you can contact the Environment Line at any time. By phone: 131 555 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.