Investigating contaminated land

Identifying contamination is important because certain chemicals can cause harm to human health or the environment.

Exposure to some types of contamination may result in acute (immediate) or chronic (long term) impacts to human health. Humans can be exposed to contamination via;

  • ingestion (directly or indirectly ingesting contaminated media, including groundwater or vegetables grown in contaminated soils)
  • absorption (where hazardous chemicals are touched and absorbed through skin into the human body) and
  • inhalation (where hazardous vapours or substances, including asbestos fibres, are inhaled into the lungs)

Contaminated land can also impact flora and fauna resulting in significant alterations to natural ecosystems and bioaccumulation in the food chain.

Where levels of contamination in soil, groundwater or surface water create an unacceptable risk of harm to human health or the environment, the land may be deemed unsafe for people to use.

It is therefore extremely important that we take steps to find out if contamination is present and identify actions to help reduce risks of harm to human health and the environment.

The NT EPA requires contaminated sites that pose or threaten to pose serious or material environmental harm as defined in the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998 ("the Act") to be assessed in accordance with the requirements of section 68 (environmental audits) of the Act.

An environmental audit must be conducted by a qualified person pursuant to section 68 of the Act, and may result in an Audit Report and a Statement of Environmental Audit.  A Statement of Environmental Audit is the professional opinion of an independent, accredited Auditor (qualified person) experienced in assessing land contamination as to the suitability of a site, in terms of risk to human health or the environment, for current or proposed uses and may include conditions specific to a proposed land use.

The results of all contaminated land audits are provided on our Public Register.

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