Contamination of land as defined under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 means the presence in, or under the land of a substance at a concentration above the concentration at which the substance is normally present in, on or under (respectively) land in the same locality, being a presence that presents a risk of harm to human health or any other aspect of the environment.
Land can become contaminated as a result of industrial or commercial activities, accidental leaks or spills, and illegal dumping of wastes. These could include pesticides, heavy metals, chemical, petroleum products and asbestos.
The Management of contaminated land in NSW consists of two levels:
- The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) uses controls under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 to deal with site contamination that is significant enough to warrant regulation under the Act given the site's current approved use. The EPA will intervene when contamination poses a significant risk of harm to public health or the environment.
- Local councils deal with contamination under the planning and development framework including State Environmental Planning Policy No. 55 - Remediation of Land and the Managing Land Contamination Planning Guidelines (EPA, 1998).