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A healthy environment that supports SA’s economy and lifestyle
Protection of the environment and keeping the public safe are the two key drivers behind the work of South Australia’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
A regulatory body that licenses more than 2,100 businesses across the State, the EPA maintains and enforces safe and sustainable environmental standards that support industry growth in a way that does not compromise the environment or public health.
Through its work, the EPA supports South Australia’s future to ensure high environmental standards are met, safeguarding our resources, air water and land for current and future generations
Amendment of the ASC NEPM officially approved
The National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure was officially approved by the Standing Council of Environment and Water (SCEW) on 11 April 2013. >>More
How the EPA regulates site contamination can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions
How to search the site contamination groundwater notifications index
One of the key environmental issues that the EPA regulates is site contamination.
Site contamination occurs when chemical substances are detected above particular levels in or under the ground and there is potential for those substances to cause harm to public health, safety, and/or the environment, including water bodies.
Site contamination is an issue that is faced around the world in both urban and regional areas – it is usually the result of historic industrial activities when work practices around the disposal of industrial waste and chemical substances were not carried out to the standards they are today. It can exist for many years without being detected.
Today, site contamination is often identified when there are plans for a site to be re-developed and an assessment of the site is conducted. Australia has nationally agreed standards about how site contamination is assessed.
The EPA regulates site contamination through the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1993 and Environment Protection Regulations 2009. It sets the processes and standards on how site contamination should be identified and managed by responsible parties.
The EPA oversees this system, ensuring that responsible parties meet their obligations. The requirements on responsible parties are set out in a series of information sheets and guidelines available under the Types of publications.
Where a public health risk is identified, the EPA will ensure that local residents who may be affected are informed.
The past, present and future – why is there contamination?
South Australia, like other urbanised places in the world, manages site contamination issues that are the direct result of past environmental practices.
In both cities and regional areas, contamination is often caused by petrols, oils and degreasers and other substances used in manufacturing, as well as agricultural chemicals, weedicides and pesticides and waste products such as ash, which were often buried.
In years gone by, industry and the community were less informed about the impact of using chemicals, pesticides and other harmful toxic substances. Disposal of these products was often not regulated and it was common for pollutants to come into direct contact with the environment.
Site contamination is often detected during testing that may be required as part of the planning approval processes associated with the subdivision, development or redevelopment of a parcel of land. Likewise, if there is to be a change in the use of land from commercial or industrial to residential, then site testing is required as part of that process.
Is there always public risk when chemicals are found?
|The discovery of chemical substances does not necessarily mean there is a risk to public health.|
Every situation is different. This is why when chemical substances are found, site specific investigations should be undertaken to determine the extent and nature and level of risk associated with each case. Following the completion of investigations, there are many techniques used to contain or remove contamination.
Chemicals may exist at a site, but if there is no way for those chemicals to reach people, or no-one lives nearby, then there is no risk to the public.
Last modified: 12/04/2013 02:53 pm