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Engaging a Contaminated Site Assessment Consultant

Engaging professionals who have the relevant qualifications, competencies and experience is important. Contaminated site assessments are inherently complex and usually present a wide range of issues requiring a multi-disciplinary approach, including scientific, technical and project management skills. Assessments must also meet relevant standards, quality assurance and regulatory requirements.

The Environment Protection Authority participates in the Heads of EPA (HEPA) forum, which is a high level forum for environmental regulators in Australia and New Zealand. The HEPA National Certification of Environmental Practitioners Working Group was established in 2015 with the task of developing a framework to improve confidence in the quality, reliability and accountability of environmental reports and documentation provided to government agencies by environmental practitioners.  The Working Group developed a set of principles to guide environmental practitioner certification bodies. These principles were endorsed by HEPA in 2017 and are available for download from the Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation site:https://www.der.wa.gov.au/our-work/national-policy.

In July 2015, EPA Tasmania announced requirements regarding the Site Contamination Practitioners Australia (SCP Australia) scheme.  SCP Australia subsequently merged with the scheme initiated by the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand Inc to form the scheme known as Certified Environmental Practitioners (Site Contamination) or CEnvP(Site Contamination). The only certified consultant's scheme currently endorsed by EPA Tasmania is the CEnvP(Site Contamination) scheme. 

The list of CEnvP(Site Contamination) is available at:    https://www.cenvp.org/directory/

A person commissioning a contaminated site report for any of the following purposes must ensure they engage a consultant who is certified under the CEnvP(Site Contamination) scheme to undertake all reporting:

  • When works are required by the Director, EPA to address land or groundwater contamination.  The requirement to engage a CEnvP(Site Contamination) will be specified in a Notice issued under the Environmental Management & Pollution Control Act 1994.
  • When the Director, in a Permit or Decommissioning and Rehabilitation Plan (DRP) guidelines relating to Level 2 premises, requires a CEnvP(Site Contamination) be engaged
  • When an environmental assessment of the area around decommissioned underground storage tanks is required under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulations 2010.
  • Where the Director’s comment is sought to satisfy Local Government requirements in relation to proposed more sensitive land uses on contaminated or potentially contaminated land.

It is important to note that although certified practitioners have achieved specified levels of experience and technical ability, such practitioners will nonetheless have specialisations. Ensure that your chosen practitioner has experience in the area of assessment required for your site (e.g. is proven remediation experience appropriate).

Where a CEnvP(Site Contamination) conducts an assessment, the report must show their unique identifying number.  A report provided by a CEnvP(Site Contamination) must include confirmation that all works and actions have been undertaken in accordance with the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure, 1999 as amended 2013.

Independent reviews of reports prepared by non certified consultants are no longer endorsed by EPA Tasmania to satisfy the purposes specified in the dot points above. All reports provided to satisfy these particular purposes must now be prepared by certified consultants.  This independent review system was put in place in 2015 to provide local consultants with time to gain experience, receive advice from certified consultants and thus move towards becoming certified themselves.  This system has now been in place for three years and we encourage all consultants working in the contaminated sites area to consider gaining certification.  This new approach in no way limits the ability or appropriateness of site owners or Councils to seek independent reviews from a certified practitioner in order to guide their decision making. There will be a transition period to phase out such independent reviews; contact EPA Tasmania for details. Requirements in Notices remain as specified in that legal instrument. 

For other site contamination assessments such as:

  •  Assessment of a possible leak or spill to determine if the site must be notified as a contaminated site;
  • Due diligence works designed to quantify environmental liabilities prior to the purchase of a site or the commencement of a lease;
  • Assessment at the end of a lease in accordance with a contract to ensure that a site has not been contaminated during the lifetime of a lease;

it is recommended that a CEnvP(Site Contamination) with experience in this area of work is used. You should consider whether the assessment is likely to lead to notification of a contaminated site to the Director and thus a regulatory Notice would require use of a certified practitioner for further works. If you do not intend to use a certified practitioner, it is recommended that you refer to Schedule B9 of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 and Information Bulletin 114 - Guide to Engaging an ESA Consultant which provide guidance on engaging appropriate consultants to undertake the assessment of contaminated land and prepare assessment reports.

Contaminated Sites Unit
134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 4599 Fax: 03 6173 0254
Email: Enquiries@epa.tas.gov.au