Land contamination law to have major impact

South Australia's construction, mining and petroleum industries are facing a new regime which will require the review and possible testing of fill before it is moved from site to site.

South Australia’s construction, mining and petroleum industries are facing a new regime which will require the review and possible testing of fill before it is moved from site to site.

Australian Contaminated Land Consultants Association (ACLCA) were advised that proposed legislative changes to commence in early 2009 would have a significant impact on South Australian industry.

It was identified at the panel discussion that the proposed amendment to the Environment Protection Act (SA) is one of the key emerging environmental issues facing local industry and in particular new infrastructure.

The proposed changes will regulate the transfer of fill between sites for the first time in South Australia.

According to the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME), the draft regulations, if adopted, could have far-reaching implications.

The proposed regulation will prohibit the importation of soil or other fill originating from a site at which a potentially contaminating activity has taken place.

The proposed regulations would cover any potentially contaminating activity, regardless as to whether the activity was carried out in the course of business or not.

Activities covered by the regulation would include bulk shipping facilities, desalination plants, cement works, concrete batching, defence establishments, electricity substations and storage of hydrocarbon products (above and below ground), excluding domestic heating storage arrangements.

Defence, mining and petroleum companies are likely to engage in many of the activities covered by the regulation in the course of meeting their future infrastructure needs in SA.

In addition, some companies could find themselves liable for contamination caused by a previous owner of their land under other general provisions, according to SACOME.

Critically, liability and responsibility for assessment and remediation of contaminated land will be assigned – not just to the original polluter, but in some circumstances to the current owner. These circumstances would include where the original polluter can’t be identified or located, or if they couldn’t meet with the cost of remediation.

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