Selecting a consultant
What does a site contamination consultant do?
Site contamination consultants are specifically defined in the Environment Protection Act 1993 as people who assess the existence or nature or extent of site contamination.
A site contamination or environmental consultancy is either a company that employs a range of professional and technical staff, or an individual operator. Engagement of a consultant is undertaken in accordance with the terms and conditions of that company or, in some cases, through agreement to complete a defined scope of works.
There is a clear distinction between the roles of an auditor and a site contamination consultant or consultant/contractor carrying out remediation.
For more information on consultants refer to the EPA information sheet Selecting a site contamination consultant.
When to use a site contamination consultant
A site contamination consultant may be engaged to assess site contamination for a variety of reasons.
Assessment is usually undertaken where site contamination exists or where there is a reasonable suspicion of site contamination (resulting in the potential for risks to human health or the environment) due to a known current or previous potentially contaminating activity occurring on the land.
For the development or continuation of an existing 'non-sensitive' (such as commercial or industrial) land use, assessment by an experienced site contamination consultant should generally be acceptable.
The consultant's report should state however that the assessment has been carried out in accordance with Schedules A and B of the Site Contamination NEPM and include definitive statements regarding the suitability of the site for the intended use and that the site does not pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment .
The EPA does not consider a report issued by a site contamination consultant in itself to be acceptable to determine the suitability of land for a sensitive land use where site contamination is suspected or known to exist at a site.
In these instances, the EPA expects the use of an independent Environmental Auditor (Contaminated Land), appointed by the EPA under the Environment Protection Act 1993, to independently review the work undertaken by the environmental consultant and to provide an expert opinion on the suitability of the site for its intended use.
Selecting a site contamination consultant
Selecting a site contamination consultant should be undertaken with care, as the quality and results of the assessment undertaken is dependent on the competency of the consultant. Selection should be similar to the process used when acquiring any professional service.
The EPA recommends consideration of all of the following to assist in finding an appropriately experienced site contamination consultant:
- contact a company that employs an Auditor accredited by the EPA. To identify these companies, refer to the Auditor Register
- contact the South Australian branch of the Australian Contaminated Land Consultants Association (ACLCA) for a list of current members on (08) 8243 2505/0409 144 122 or visit their website
- seek advice from a trusted person who has previously engaged an environmental consultant that successfully demonstrated acceptable standards of competency and completed similar projects.
How to select a contractor if remediation is required
If remediation is required after assessment, the same process of selecting a contractor/consultant to undertake remediation should be adopted as described above.
Outcomes of engaging a site contamination consultant
The outcome of the engagement of a site contamination consultant is the completion of the scope of work, or an agreed amended scope of work, and the issue of a report to the client. The report should be able to sustain technical and public scrutiny.
In some instances, the scope of a consultant's assessment may be limited by agreement with the client. In this case, the report should specifically identify the limitations relating to the scope of work and detail where this may not comply with relevant standards and guidelines.
Site contamination consultants are also required to specify the land use(s) taken into account in forming an opinion on the existence of site contamination in any written reports produced (Section 103ZA of the Environment Protection Act 1993).