Changes to the Contaminated Sites Act: What Does It Mean for You?

    View Authors January 2014

    The Department of Environment Regulation (DER) is currently conducting a five year review of the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 (WA) (Act).

    Proposed Changes In the Discussion Paper

    Four changes to the Act are proposed:

    1. The duty to report. The proposed change is to include “environmental consultant” in the persons with a duty to report under the Act. A definition of an “environmental consultant” in the Act would also be required.
    2. The site classification scheme. Substantial internal changes will be made to provide clearer guidance on what a site classification of “possibly contaminated – investigation required” means. This will help the DER react quicker and more efficiently to these sites and better prioritise them in relation to other contaminated sites.
    3. Mandatory disclosure arrangements. The DER proposes to clarify disclosure arrangements under the Act when a
      property is in the process of changing hands. Specifically, the DER is seeking to clarify cases where the current owner of a property may be unable to notify the DER of a sale within 14 days of the completion of a transaction. The DER proposes to do this through the amendment of the definitions for “owner” and “completion of transaction”.
    4. The role and procedures of the Contaminated Sites Committee. The DER seeks to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of the decision making of the Contaminated Sites Committee (Committee). The proposed amendments are:

    a) Creating a timeframe of three months to circulate all information submitted to the Committee;

    b) Extending the offence of providing “false or misleading information” to the Committee; and

    c) Giving authority for the Committee to publish reasons for decisions regarding “responsibility for remediation”.

    Additional Changes of Interest

    The DER will be incorporating the amended National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (NEPM) in its guidelines. Amendment of the Act to create consistency will be required.

    From 16 May 2014, all site contamination assessment reports must be consistent with the amended NEPM. In the meantime, there is a 12-month transition period, where the DER will accept work already substantially progressed and consistent with the original NEPM.

    Submissions regarding the discussion paper close 24 February 2014.

    Please contact Margie Tannock if you have any queries as to how these amendments might affect you or would like assistance to prepare a submission.