New SA Site Contamination Guidelines – Summary

EPA SA has recently released a new regulatory framework on site contamination. It is our duty at AEA to inform those that may be effected by these new guidelines and answer any questions that you may have. Below is a summary on the new SA Site Contamination Guidelines.

Purpose of the Framework

  • Outlines the EPA’s decision-making framework for regulating and processing contaminated sites.

Sections that may be relevant to you

  • Section 3: EPA Assessment and Remediation Goals
    • Outlines assessment / remediation goals required by the EPA
  • Section 6: Determination of Persons Liable for Site Contamination
    • Framework enabling the EPA to determine if a liable person/s exist or if the site falls into the EPA management of orphaned sites
  • Section 7: Regulatory Priority
    • Outlines the EPA process for prioritising contaminated sites. Regulatory approach, assessment and remediation timeframes are driven by the EPA’s determination of priority. A risk banding is provided in Appendix 3 for a range of the potential contaminating activities undertaken.
    • A high risk site may require a voluntary proposal subject to the potential risk to human health and the environment, as assessed by the EPA. The regulatory approach for lower priority sites is a non-statutory agreement.
  • Section 8: Regulatory Response
    • Outlines the potential actions and timeframes for different regulatory priorities.
    • For example, a service station with petroleum hydrocarbons in groundwater could be classified as Level 1 Regulatory Priority with an assessment timeframe of 6 months or less and a remediation timeframe of 8 months or less, as per Table 4 Section 8.
  • Section 9: Triggers for a Site Contamination Audit
    • Refers to the triggers for audits within the Guidelines for the Site Contamination Audit System. These triggers include where contamination migrates offsite and presents a potential risk to the environment or sensitive land uses (i.e. hydrocarbon plume migrating beneath houses) and when developing a potentially contaminated site into sensitive land.
  • Section 16: Cessation of Regulatory Involvement
    • The regulatory end point is reached when it is demonstrated that the contamination does not pose a current risk to human health and the environment, unless new information is received to the contrary.
    • This end point can be reached through the assessment and remediation process for a non-sensitive land use site or through the audit process.

Key Points to Consider

  • EPA expects assessment reports to characterise the site, determine contaminants of potential concern, determine the nature and extent of site contamination, and identify and assess potential risks to human health and the environment.
    • Based on an initial limited review, if the EPA determines that a report has significant flaws (i.e. the above information is not addressed), the EPA will undertake a detailed review.
  • EPA use a risk based approach, taking into account PCA risk ranking and exposure pathways and receptors to determine priority sites.