Contaminated land duties

Understanding your Contaminated Land Duties

Under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998, you may have a duty to notify and manage contamination on land you manage or control.

Duty to manage contaminated land

When contamination is present, or you suspect that it is present, then you have a duty to manage risks resulting from that contamination.

This is the case even if the contamination happened before you took control of the land. It’s important to identify potentially contaminated sites because they can cause harm to human health and the environment.

You may have existing information about contamination on your land. You should also investigate when you suspect contamination from:

  • activities you’ve undertaken, or incidents such as spills;
  • historical use of the land, such as manufacturing or mining activities, and storage of chemicals or waste.

You can comply with your duty to manage contaminated land by:

  • identifying any contamination that you suspect is present
  • investigating and assessing contamination, with professional help
  • providing and maintaining measures to minimise any risk. This may include remediation to make the site suitable for its current use
  • providing information to others who contamination may affect
  • engaging an expert for contaminated land management advice.

Duty to notify of contaminated land

In addition to the duty to manage, you may also have a duty to notify the NT EPA of confirmed contamination.

In accordance with Section 12 of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998, the following people would be required to notify the NT EPA as soon as practicable after they become aware of contaminated land:

  • anyone whose activities have resulted in contamination of land
  • anyone whose activities have caused contamination to be spread or enhanced, and
  • an owner of contaminated land.

Determining whether to notify

In terms of potentially contaminated land, a person should notify the NT EPA if:

  • an incident occurs that may cause, spread or enhance contamination at a site (i.e. in accordance with section 14 of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998;
  • if the level of the contaminant in, or on, soil is equal to or above a level of contamination set out in Schedule B1 of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (as amended 2013) (ASC NEPM) or other approved guideline value with respect to a current or approved use of the land, and people have been, or foreseeably will be, exposed to the contaminant; or
  • the contaminant or a by-product has entered, or will foreseeably enter land, neighbouring land, the atmosphere, groundwater or surface water, and is above, or will potentially be above, a level of contamination set out in Schedule B1 of the ASC NEPM or other approved guidelines, and will foreseeably continue to remain equal to or above that level.

Contact us for more guidance on contaminated land duties.

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