Rubbish bins

Contaminated Sites

Contaminated Sites Act 2003 - Review

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is currently conducting a review of the Contaminated Sites Act 2003.

The review examines how effective the Act has been identifying, recording, managing, and remediating contaminated sites over the past five years.

The DEC released a consultation document in July, and WALGA is coordinating a submission on behalf of Local Government.

Local Governments are encouraged to comment on WALGA’s draft submission and/or provide their own submission to DEC.  Comments on the WALGA submission are due by COB 24 September 2012. Please contact Julia Beijeman on 08 9213 2039 or email jbeijeman@walga.asn.au

The Draft Submission is available here

The closing date for public comment is Friday, 28 September.

For more information and a copy of the consultation document, see www.dec.wa.gov.au

The Contaminated Sites Act 2003 created new obligations for Local Governments in respect of contaminated sites on land under their control. When this law takes effect, owners and occupiers of sites, and any person who caused contamination at a site, will have a legal duty to report a site to the Department of Environment if they know or suspect the site to be contaminated.  Using this mechanism, the Department will compile a register of contaminated sites across the state to be used in the management and remediation those sites. The Legislation will also create new obligations for the management and rehabilitation of contaminated sites, with implications for the planning approvals processes administered by Local Governments. 

Many outstanding questions remain in relation to the interpretation of the Act, such as: 'When are Local Governments to be considered 'owners' for the purposes of the Act?' For more discussion and some resources on this point, click here.

The Act will have many financial and administrative implications for Local Government. It is recommended that all planning, environmental health and other relevant officers ensure they understand their requirements under the Act and are operating in compliance with it.

Timeframes

The Contaminated Sites Act came into effect 1 December 2006. Importantly, the Act provides a period of grace of 6 months after the date of commencement before failure to comply with the reporting requirements will be treated as an offence. 

Tools

The Department has produced a Contaminated Sites Management Series which supports the administrative and technical aspects of managing contaminated sites under the Act. Where a Local Government has determined that it probably is the owner of lands containing known or suspected contaminated sites, it should use these resources to assist with investigating and reporting those sites. The management series is highly recommended reading for Local Governments.

Department brochure on the Contaminated Sites Act 
Brief overview of the legislation, its aims and operation.

For more information, visit http://www.der.wa.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-sites.