Voluntary assessments & assessment orders
The EPA has powers under the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act) to enable site contamination to be assessed and remediated. Using these powers, the EPA regulates persons with liability for site contamination, to ensure they meet their obligations.
Where site contamination is identified, the EPA may require the assessment of site contamination through a non-statutory agreement or via statutory approaches, such as a voluntary site contamination assessment proposal (VSCAP), or a site contamination assessment order (SCAO).
The nature of the contamination will determine whether a non-statutory or statutory approach is required and how quickly an assessment should progress.
In some instances, a site contamination audit may also be required. VSCAP and SCAO deal with the assessment phase. Any necessary remediation, identified during the assessment process, is addressed through a voluntary site remediation proposal (VSRP) or a site remediation order (SRO).
Voluntary site contamination assessment proposal (VSCAP)
VSCAP is established under section 103I of the EP Act, and commonly termed as voluntary proposals.
When a VSCAP is considered to be necessary, the EPA will request that the appropriate person for site contamination engages a certified site contamination practitioner to prepare a proposal.
The proposal would include a summary of the known contamination, objectives and actions proposed to further assess the extent of site contamination and any associated risks to human health and the environment. It should also have timeframes for each stage of the assessment and where appropriate a plan for communicating with potentially affected neighbouring residents.
Once the EPA is satisfied with the terms of the voluntary proposal, a formal agreement will be documented and the proposal will be made publically available through the public register. All subsequent information relating to the proposal is also made publically available.
Site contamination assessment order (SCAO)
SCAO is established under section 103H of the EP Act.
Orders are an effective tool for regulating persons who are unwilling to voluntarily undertake an assessment program. This may include persons who have not undertaken assessment work that was agreed through a non-statutory agreement or a voluntary proposal.
Orders require a person (or persons) to undertake and complete EPA-specified assessment within a set timeframe. If a person does not comply with the conditions of an order, they are committing a criminal offence and prosecution may result. The EPA can also undertake the work required by the order and recover the cost of that work, with interest, from that person.
The EP Act identifies whether a responsible person is required to undertake both on and off-site assessment. The Act also identifies what the EPA can require if the order is issued under the suspicion that site contamination exists due to the undertaking of a potentially contaminating activity.
If you have any questions please contact the Site Contamination Branch on (08) 8204 9934.