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Public communication on site contamination
When notified that actual or potential site contamination (soil and groundwater) exists in an area, the EPA’s first steps are:
- to make a preliminary assessment, particularly to ensure exactly which properties/Certificate of Titles are affected,
- directly advise utilities and local and state government authorities so that they can be aware when planning any excavations in the area, and
- to place a copy of the notification on the EPA Public Register, the EPA website and a public notice in the local media to advise that a notification has been received.
After this occurs, the notification will be further assessed - which will include a risk assessment based on the information provided. There may be a need for more work which may include further testing outside the notified area and/or the completion of a health risk assessment. During this process, site owners or other government agencies may communicate with affected residents and stakeholders.
If there is any evidence of possible impacts on public health or the environment, the EPA and/or the responsible party will first advise those who are potentially directly affected. This could include residents living where contamination may exist, site owners and relevant industries.
The EPA will ensure that residents living in nearby areas are directly advised, and subsequently that those people not directly affected are notified through the media.
The EPA’s method of communicating will be tailored to the level of, and evidence of, any risk to the public. For example, residents can expect urgent information to be communicated face-to-face and with follow up letters.
In addition to advising potentially affected residents, the EPA will maintain a searchable web-based index of groundwater site contamination notifications eg by suburb. This will be progressively rolled out to other site contamination notifications (eg site audit reports received).
More information about how site contamination is managed is available here.
Last modified: 17/04/2012 02:59 pm