30 Oct 2014

National framework for remediating contaminated sites in the pipeline

by Brad Wylynko, Claire Smith, Monty Neate

CRC CARE's initiative offers land owners, occupiers and developers an opportunity to help shape the national framework for remediating contaminated sites.

It has long been recognized that Australia has no standalone legislation at a national level that deals specifically with the remediation (as opposed to investigation) of site contamination. This means that there is no nationally consistent approach to dealing with this major environmental issue.

In 2012, the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), an independent organisation comprising representatives from government and industry, began a project to develop a national framework for remediation and management of contaminated sites.

CRC CARE expects to complete the National Framework by 2016. Once complete, the National Framework will:

  • establish a nationally consistent approach to remediation of contaminated sites;
  • complement the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (NEPM);
  • provide procedural guidance to people managing contaminated sites,
  • encourage each State and Territory to meet minimum clean-up requirements; and
  • inform government, industry and the public on issues associated with site contamination,

but NOT:

  • impinge on the policy and decision-making prerogatives of the States and Territories; or
  • be legally binding.

The National Framework will include guidelines on developing remediation plans, clean-up methodology, the protection of workers, and post-remediation site monitoring.

CRC CARE is currently seeking public feedback on two reports:

As the growth of Australian cities continues to drive the redevelopment of former industrial lands and urban infilling, remediation of site contamination will continue to be an important environmental, health, and planning issue. CRC CARE's initiative offers land owners, occupiers and developers an opportunity to help shape the National Framework. While the Framework will not be legally binding, it will clearly influence standards and policy approaches across the country particularly if it is designed to complement the NEPM.

The deadline for providing submissions in relation to the two reports is Friday 14 November 2014.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.