Contamination means the condition of land or water where any chemical substance or waste has been added at above acceptable background levels and represents, or potentially represents, an adverse health or environmental impact.
Contamination of land most often results from past land uses. It can arise from a range of activities that took place on the land or at an adjacent site. Such activities include improper chemical handling or disposal practices, or accidental spillages of chemicals during manufacturing or storage. Contamination may also come from air emissions, diffuse sources or polluted groundwater.
Contaminants include a broad range of substances such as pesticides, metals and metalloids, inorganic chemicals, solvents and petroleum products.
Costs of land contamination
SOCIAL COSTS: Land contamination can have significant impacts on human health and the environment. It can also limit current land use and future land development potential.
FINANCIAL COSTS: Those responsible for land contamination should investigate and clean-up any contamination. Not only can clean-up be extremely expensive, contamination can also devalue the property.
ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS: Land contamination can pollute surface water and groundwater resources and harm plants and animals.A legacy of contaminated land may also impact on future generations.
Report land contamination
Section 60 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 requires a person whose activities have contaminated land, and the landowner, to notify the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) when they become aware of contamination. More details can be found in Guidelines on the duty to report contamination under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.
Source: NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change
Land Contamination -What are my responsibilities?
DECCW 2009/811 March 2010 ISBN 978 1 74232 510 1