The audit process
What is a site contamination audit?
An audit is the independent review of the assessment and/or remediation of site contamination and is carried out by an auditor – a person with a high level of expertise and experience accredited by the EPA as a site contamination auditor – for a specific purpose with respect to site contamination.
A site contamination audit is defined in section 3(1) of the Environment Protection Act 1993 as meaning a review carried out by a person that:
- examines assessments or remediation carried out by another person in respect of known or suspected site contamination on or below the surface of a site; and
- is for the purpose of determining any one or more of the following matters:
- the nature and extent of any site contamination present or remaining on or below the surface of the site
- the suitability of the site for a sensitive use or another use or range of uses
- what remediation is or remains necessary for a specified use or range of uses.
The selection of audit purposes will be determined based on the reason for the audit being carried out.
When should an audit be carried out?
A site contamination audit may be carried out or required for one or more of the following reasons:
Components of the site contamination audit system
The key components of the audit system are:
- the accreditation of expert and experienced individuals as a site contamination auditor (auditor) by the EPA
- the carrying out of a site contamination audit (audit) by an auditor
- notification of audit commencement by the auditor to the EPA
- if the audit is no longer required or can not be completed, the notification of the audit termination by the auditor to the EPA
- the issuing of a site contamination audit report (audit report) and a site contamination audit statement (audit statement) by an auditor.
The audit system allows for several categories of audits including audits required under the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act) and the Development Act 1993. Audits may be carried out for the purpose of determining one or more matters as defined in the Act.
A site contamination auditor is a natural person accredited by the EPA under section 103V in Division 4 of Part 10A of the EP Act.
The auditor is responsible for personally carrying out or directly supervising the work involved in an audit, and certifying the findings of the audit.
Refer to the EPA publication, Using a site contamination auditor for further information about auditors.
Auditors must comply with relevant provisions of the EP Act and Environment Protection Regulations 2009 and are required to comply with EPA guidelines in regard to the manner and carrying out of an audit, and in the setting out of audit findings in audit reports.
The legislation provides for significant penalties for offences and breaches of specific requirements including expiations, fines and/or imprisonment.
List of auditors currently accredited by the EPA.
False or misleading information and statements
There are key provisions in section 103ZB, section 119 and section 120A of the EP Act relating to statements of false or misleading information to auditors, site contamination consultants and the EPA. Auditors are expected to inform their clients of these provisions prior to commencing an audit.
Refer to the EPA publication Guidelines for the site contamination audit system for more information.
What is the result of an audit?
The result of an audit is the completion of an audit report and audit statement (the prescribed summary of the audit findings).
The audit report documents the auditor’s determinations and audit outcomes relating to the site and is prepared and provided by an auditor in accordance with legislative requirements and guidelines issued by the EPA.
In some cases, in order to support the audit outcome, the auditor may need to specify conditions in the audit report, which require implementation to ensure the adequate protection of human health and the environment taking into the account current or proposed land use(s). This may result in responsibilities for implementing conditions being placed on certain parties.
On completion, the audit report must be provided by the auditor to the person who commissioned the audit, and at the same time to the EPA. In addition, a copy of the audit statement must be provided to the relevant local council and planning authority and any prescribed body.
Terminating an audit
If it is determined that an audit is no longer required the audit may be terminated subject to any contractual arrangements with the auditor. The auditor may also terminate the audit if reasonable request for additional information is not provided (eg assessment of groundwater conditions).
Auditors are required to notify the EPA where an audit is terminated. The EPA may seek further information from the auditor, the person requesting the audit or any other person regarding the reasons for termination of the audit.
What is the role of the EPA?
The EPA has a statutory responsibility to administer the Act. In regard to the audit system, the EPA is responsible a range of activities including the following:
- developing, establishing and maintaining an audit system
- accrediting auditors
- recording audit information on the Public Register
- providing information on audits through the Form 1 prescribed in regulations under the Land and Business (Sale & Conveyancing) Act 1994
- maintaining a public register of currently accredited auditors.
Administration of audit information
The EPA retains and holds copies of all audit reports and audit statements completed in South Australia. This information is recorded and identified in the following ways:
- Public Register
- Form 1 and Section 7 Statements or Property Interest Reports
Documents recorded on the Public Register are public documents that are available to third parties on request to the EPA.
For further information on viewing or obtaining information through the Public Register, contact the EPA on 08 8204 9128.