Stay up to date

You can stay up to date with the latest contaminated land management news and events, including:

  • Changes to policy and regulatory requirements,
  • Updates to guidelines and legislation, and
  • Opportunities to have your say on public exhibitions

Subscribe to email updates

See below for previous updates.

26 November 2018

NSW site auditor applications are now open

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is calling for applications from appropriately qualified and experienced people to become accredited site auditors under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act). Applications open on Monday 26 November 2018 with the last date for receipt of applications being Monday 28 January 2019. The NSW site auditor scheme is administered by the EPA under Part 4 of the CLM Act. The scheme provides a pool of accredited 'site auditors' who can be engaged to review investigation, remediation and validation work conducted by contaminated land consultants.

The selection criteria is based on Schedule B9 of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (April 2013) and are set out in the application form. A copy of the application form can either be downloaded from the EPA website: www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/site-auditor-scheme or a copy can be requested by emailing nswauditors@epa.nsw.gov.au.

A briefing session will be held at the EPA’s office in Goulburn Street on Monday 17 December 2018 for interested potential applicants. Please send an email to nswauditors@epa.nsw.gov.au or phone (02) 9995 5647 to register.

A non-refundable application fee of $1,129 is charged for all applications submitted.

For more information about the scheme visit www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/site-auditor-scheme or telephone Jo Graham on (02) 9995 5609.

Exemption from certain regulatory requirements for underground petroleum storage systems

Stand-by generators, storage of heating oil and waste oil

The NSW EPA has published an exemption for operators of certain underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS) from some regulatory requirements.

Who is it for?

The exemption order applies to persons responsible for UPSS which store fuel for stand-by generators, heating oil and waste oil. It does not apply to operators of any other types of UPSS.

What is exempt?

The order exempts operators of the above types of UPSS from some requirements in the Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014. These operators are exempt from the requirements:

  • to have a secondary leak detection system (e.g. groundwater monitoring wells) and to test that system
  • to prepare and implement an Environment Protection Plan for the fuel system
  • to keep and incident log and other documentation relating to the fuel system

Why is the EPA doing this?

These types of underground petroleum storage systems are considered at low risk of leaking and creating environmental impacts. They have been exempt from these requirements of the Regulation since its commencement in 2008.

Extending this exemption provides continuity. It will allow for operators to remain exempt until 31 August 2019 when the Regulation is remade.

Where can I get more details about the exemption?

The exemption order was issued by the EPA under clause 28 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014 and was published in the NSW Government Gazette on 9 November 2018 (Gazette number 119, pages 8447-8).

The EPA’s UPSS Unit can be contacted at UPSSREG@epa.nsw.gov.au for more detail.

22 October 2018

Have your say on managing run-off from service station forecourts

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has developed a draft Practice Note (PDF 290KB) - managing run-off from service station forecourts. The aim is to provide guidance to protect the environment from potentially polluted run-off from service station forecourts.

Who is it for?

This practice note provides guidance to the service station industry to ensure that the best available strategies and technologies are used to manage potentially contaminated forecourt run-off at service stations and stop pollutants reaching the environment. 

It also provides guidance to local councils in their role of assessing and approving applications for new and upgraded service stations.

The problem

Run-off from service station forecourts can contain fuel and oil from spills that may occur during fuelling operations. This run-off needs to be collected and managed to protect human health and the environment.

The forecourts of service stations are generally hard surfaces consisting of re-fuelling areas, parking bays, trafficable and pedestrian access areas. As water flows across these hard surfaces, for example during rainfall, it can collect residues of petrol, oil or diesel which contain pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, oils, grease, lubricants, coolants and dirt.  If not collected, these pollutants may be washed into the stormwater system and flow to our rivers, lakes and beaches.

The proposed solutions

The draft Practice Note (PDF 290KB) encourages the service station industry to adopt best available strategies and technologies to improve the quality of run-off from service station forecourts.

Planning and design
Good design and management of the forecourt area must be considered during the planning and design phase for a new or upgraded service station. A well-designed forecourt area will separate those areas presenting the greatest risk of harm to the environment from contaminated run-off, such as workshops and fuelling areas, from those areas presenting lower risks, like parking spaces.

A service station forecourt should be physically divided into distinct zones. Run-off within each zone can then be directed via bunds or gradients to different collection points where it can then be managed and treated according to its contamination risk.

Assessing water quality impacts
This practice note recommends Councils take a ‘risk based’ approach to assessing impacts on water quality from any proposals for new or upgraded service stations. This is to ensure the most sensitive receiving environments get the highest levels of capture and treatment of run-off.  This approach is consistent with existing frameworks for conserving ambient water quality, as set out in the Australian and New Zealand guidelines for fresh and marine water quality (2018).

Expanded management options
To avoid pollution incidents and impacts on the environment, the practice note recommends forecourt run-off and spillages from higher risk zones (refuelling areas, workshops) should be managed using one of the following approaches:

  • Run-off is collected and stored in a blind pit, tank or sump for later disposal, or
  • Run-off is discharged to the sewerage system with prior written approval from the local water or sewerage authority, or
  • Run-off is directed to the stormwater system, after treatment to a level that will not harm the environment. The environmental values of the receiving waters should be considered for this approach

Consistency with other jurisdictions

The practice note is consistent with British/European standards (BS EN 858-1:2002), Australian Industry Best Practice Guidelines 2017 published by the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association and reflects current acceptable practice at many metropolitan and non-metropolitan sites across Victoria, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and New South Wales.

What do you think?

The NSW Environment Protection Authority would like to know what you think about the draft practice note. It can be accessed at: https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/epaconsult

Does it target the problem effectively? Is the advice and guidance given clear and practical?

You can make comments on the draft Practice Note – Managing run-off from service station forecourts by lodging a written submission via UPSSREG@epa.nsw.gov.au

Any submission you wish to make must be received by the EPA by 30 November 2018.

The EPA will publish all submissions received on the EPA website, unless requested to keep a submission confidential. The EPA will review each submission and prepare a submissions report summarizing the issues raised and any changes proposed to the Practice Note. The submissions report will also be published on the EPA website.

The EPA is also running consultation workshops on 8 November 2018. For further details and to reserve a place, please contact James Allen on 9995 5510 or email UPSSREG@epa.nsw.gov.au

15 October 2018

Fresh and marine water quality guidelines: primary industries component

Section 105 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) allows the EPA to make or approve guidelines for purposes connected with the objects of the Act. The EPA recently approved the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (Australian and New Zealand Governments (ANZG) 2018) under the CLM Act, and revoked the previous version of the guidelines, the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC 2000). (Note the Australian Government has provided advice on its preferred approach to referencing the current version of these guidelines in written documents on its webpage ‘About the Water Quality Guidelines’, please see the end of the webpage: http://waterquality.gov.au/anz-guidelines/about).

The updated guidelines do not yet include values for primary industry water quality. The primary industries component of the ANZECC 2000 guidelines have therefore been re-approved under the CLM Act until new values and guidelines are made available by the Australian Government (anticipated late this year). This approach is consistent with the Australian Government’s advice provided on its ‘Primary Industries – Livestock Drinking Water Guidance’ webpage: http://www.waterquality.gov.au/anz-guidelines/guideline-values/default/primary-industries/.

It is important to note all references in the EPA’s contaminated sites guidelines to

  • the Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters (ANZECC, October 2000), are replaced as of 29 August 2018 by the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZG, August 2018), subject to the same terms with the exception of the Water quality for primary industries component which still refer to the ANZECC 2000 guidelines
  • the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (NEPC 1999) are replaced as of 16 May 2013 by the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (April 2013), subject to the same terms.

More information on Guidelines made or approved under the CLM Act is available.

31 August 2018

New Contaminated Land Management Fees Apply From 1 September 2018

Cost Recovery Fees

If you are issued an order requiring you to investigate, manage, remediate or maintain contaminated land, or you enter into a voluntary management proposal.

Site Auditor Fees

New fees will also apply under the NSW Site Auditor Scheme from 1 September 2018. The new application fee for accreditation under the Scheme will be $1,129 and the new accreditation fee for a period of one year or less will be $7,892.

The new fees are listed in the Contaminated Land Management (Adjustable Amounts) Notice 2018, available on the NSW legislation website: https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/regulations/2018-467.pdf

Revised Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality

Revision of the Guidelines

The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, (previously known as ANZECC 2000) were recently updated. The revision of the Guidelines was a joint project of the Australian and New Zealand and Australian State and Territory Governments (ANZAST). The guidelines can be found at http://waterquality.gov.au/anz-guidelines

Key revisions include:

  • The water quality management framework has been expanded and strengthened, including the development of conceptual models for natural systems
  • Information on recreational and drinking water has been removed as the water quality and health guidelines already cover these topics (Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011 and Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water 2008).
  • Ecosystem information specific to regional location has been updated to provide for improved targeted biological assessment.
  • Guidance on cultural and spiritual values of water resources is now incorporated in the Guidelines.

Approval of the Guidelines under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997

Section 105 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) allows the EPA to make or approve guidelines for purposes connected with the objects of the Act. The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (2018) are now approved under the CLM Act, and the previous version revoked.

All references in the EPA's contaminated sites guidelines to:

  • the Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters (ANZECC, November 1992), and
  • the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC and ARMCANZ, October 2000)

are replaced as of 29 August 2018 by the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZAST, August 2018), subject to the same terms.

20 July 2018

Updated Contaminated Land Management Compliance Statement

The EPA has updated its Contaminated Land Management Compliance Statement (PDF 182KB), to better reflect current management procedures, and maintain consistency with other EPA policies.

The Contaminated Land Management Compliance Statement details the specific approach taken to compliance monitoring and enforcement of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 and Contaminated Land Management Regulation 2013.

The overall objective of contaminated land management is to improve environmental and human health outcomes. In achieving these outcomes, a risk-based, escalated regulatory approach is taken to compliance, consistent with the EPA’s overarching Compliance Policy (PDF 455KB). When identifying the appropriate compliance tools and escalating its response, the EPA considers the level of risk resulting from the non-compliance, as well as other factors, such as culpability and attitude to compliance. The EPA is also committed to consistent, fair and credible action, and where appropriate provides those involved an opportunity to explain the alleged breach and any remedial action taken voluntarily.

Council Regional Capacity Building Program 2018-21

The EPA is running a contaminated land management Council Regional Capacity Building (CRCB) grant program. Grants of up to $140,000 per year for three years are available for groups of three or more regional councils including Joint Organisations of Councils and Regional Organisations of Councils. Applications are now open and the closing date is 5pm Friday 17 August 2018.

Groups of councils that meet the eligibility criteria will be provided with funding to employ a CRCB Officer. The officer can provide support for:

  • developing contaminated land policies, procedures and registers
  • reviewing existing contaminated land policies and procedures against the relevant legislation
  • conducting workshops on the legal obligations and technical aspects of contaminated land management
  • guiding and supporting planning officers on contaminated land issues
  • assisting with the handover to councils of Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS) regulation in August 2019

Free assistance with applications is available to eligible applicants.  The deadline for applying for assistance with the application process is Friday 27 July 2018.

 

16 March 2018

Changes to the EP&A Act –Planning Certificates

In November last year, the NSW Government passed legislation to update the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). The changes to the Act commenced on Thursday 1 March 2018. The Department of Planning & Environment have created a Guide to the updated Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

One of the key provisions in the current EP&A Act relevant to contaminated land management is section 149 - Planning Certificates. Under this provision local councils are required to include advice on a planning certificate for any property on prescribed matters, such as the existence of a council policy to restrict the use of land. This includes restrictions on land use due to risks from contamination.

Under the new structure and numbering system in the amended Act, the provisions for Planning Certificates are now at section 10.7. The wording of the provision remains the same, except for the previous reference to Part 7A which has been replaced with a reference to Schedule 6 in the amended Act. This relates to council liability for advice provided on a planning certification on contamination.

The EPA is progressively updating our website, guidance and other documents to reflect this change. However, all references to s. 149 planning certificates will be taken to be a reference to s. 10.7 planning certificates and vice versa.

PFAS National Environmental Management Plan

PFAS is an abbreviation for per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. Some PFAS have been globally identified as chemicals of concern to human health and the environment, particularly due to their persistence and bioaccumulation.

Australia’s Environment Ministers have endorsed the first PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP). The PFAS NEMP provides governments with a consistent, practical, risk-based framework for the environmental regulation of PFAS-contaminated materials and sites.

The PFAS NEMP has been developed as an adaptive plan, able to respond to emerging research and knowledge. It represents a how-to guide for the investigation and management of PFAS contamination and waste management, including recommended approaches, which will be called upon to inform actions by EPAs and other regulators.

New Approved Contaminated Land Notification Form

Under section 60 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act), a person whose activities have contaminated land or an owner of land that has been contaminated must notify the EPA.

The NSW EPA has recently approved an updated contaminated land notification form. The form now includes a link to the Duty to Report Contamination Guidelines and requests supporting sources of information.

The updates are intended to increase the quality of information submitted with the form by providing more guidance on notification requirements. Better and more timely delivery of information will assist the EPA in assessing the notification.

The EPA will allow a short transition period between the use of the old and new forms. From 1 April 2018, all contaminated land notifications must be made using the new approved form.

12 February 2018

Recognition of merged consultant certification scheme and certification policy

The EPA requires all reports submitted to the EPA to comply with the requirements of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) to be prepared, or reviewed and approved, by a certified consultant.

The Contaminated Land Consultant Certification Policy clarifies the EPA’s position on the certification of contaminated land consultants. The policy supports the development and implementation of nationally consistent certification schemes in Australia, and encourages the use of certified consultants by the community and industry.

The Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) Certified Environmental Practitioners Scheme (CEnvP) Contaminated Land specialisation and the Site Contamination Practitioners Australia (SCPA) scheme have recently merged to form a new ‘Site Contamination’ specialist certification operating under CEnvP. The EPA previously recognised the two separate schemes. Having reviewed the criteria for the merged scheme, the EPA considers it suitable for EPA recognition.

The EPA continues to recognise the Soil Science Australia (SSA) Certified Professional Soil Scientist Contaminated Site Assessment and Management (CPSS CSAM) certification scheme.

Have your say: Proposed Remediation of Land SEPP and Guidelines on exhibition

For almost 20 years the State Environmental Planning Policy for the Remediation of Land, SEPP 55, and the associated Managing Contaminated Land Planning Guidelines, have provided the planning framework for the management of contaminated land in NSW.

The Department of Planning and the Environment (DPE) is exhibiting an Explanation of Intended Effects (EIE) for a new Remediation of Land SEPP as well as draft revised planning guidelines to assist planning authorities to address land contamination issues when dealing with rezoning or development applications and assess development applications for remediation works. The EPA has worked with DPE in the review of the planning guidelines to ensure the documents are clear, up-to-date and in line with current legislation requirements.

Stakeholders and the community are invited to consider the Explanation of Intended Effect and the draft Guidelines and make a submission on any of the proposed changes. Exhibition is open until 31 March 2018.

Minor amendments to the Contaminated Land Management Act

In 2017, the NSW Parliament passed the Crown Land Legislation Amendment Act 2017 to make changes to legislation that deal with Crown land as a result of the consolidated management of the state’s Crown lands under the Crown Land Management Act 2016. The legislation is expected to commence in 2018 and will make minor amendments to the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) relating to Crown land. Under these amendments, the NSW EPA is to become the local authority under the CLM Act for land in the Western Division that is not within a local government area.

15 September 2017

New cost recovery and site auditor accreditation fees

Cost recovery fees

If you are issued an order requiring you to investigate, manage, remediate or maintain contaminated land, or a voluntary management proposal (VMP) approval by the EPA, the administrative costs associated with the order or approved VMP can be recovered from you by the EPA. From 1 September 2017, a new cost recovery fee of $90 per hour will apply.

See more information on when cost recovery applies

Site auditor fees

New fees will also apply under the NSW Site Auditor Scheme from 1 September 2017. The new application fee for accreditation under the Scheme will be $1,103 and the new accreditation fee for a period of one year or less will be $7,710.

The new fees are listed in the annual notice of adjustable amounts: Contaminated Land Management (Adjustable Amounts) Notice 2017, available at https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au#/view/regulation/2017/428/full

For more information, please contact the EPA at contaminated.sites@epa.nsw.gov.au

Contaminated Land Management Act Amendments

Investigation powers

EPA officers authorised under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (the CLM Act) now have the same investigative powers as officers authorised under the EPA’s key environmental legislation, the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, POEO Act.

If you receive a notice from the EPA requesting information about a contaminated site it will no longer be issued under the CLM Act (former sections 77 or 78). The EPA will issue the notice using the powers to request information in section 191 or 193 of the POEO Act.

The investigative powers of the POEO Act (Chapter 7) were extended to the CLM Act from 1 June 2017, including the powers to request information.

Other proposals to amend the CLM Act

There were some proposed changes to the CLM Act that did not proceed. This included a proposed new regulatory tool called management agreements. As such, the EPA will continue to regulate land declared as ‘significantly contaminated land’ using either a management order or approved voluntary management proposals.

New requirements for reporting to the EPA: transition period ends

The 24-month transition period to prepare for the EPA’s policy requiring certified reports ended on 30 June 2017. To avoid unnecessary delay, ensure any reports you submit to the EPA to comply with the requirements of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) are prepared, or reviewed and approved, by a certified practitioner from a Consultant Certification Scheme recognised by the EPA.

Contaminated land consultant certification schemes were developed to ensure that consultants dealing with contaminated sites have the necessary competencies to carry out this work. The site auditor scheme page has information about recognised Consultant Certification Schemes, and the details of the type of reports covered by the EPA’s policy.

The EPA’s early review of the policy has found reasonable uptake of the schemes by environmental practitioners.

Director Contaminated Land Management

Arminda Ryan has been appointed as Director Contaminated Land Management within the EPA’s Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Branch.

This role is responsible for the management of significantly contaminated land in NSW, the administration of the NSW Site Auditor Scheme, policy development and reforms for the contaminated land management framework in NSW, as well as development and implementation of preventative programs.

Page last updated