National framework for remediating contaminated sites

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014

A new national framework for remediating contaminated sites will help identify the best ways to clean up Australia’s polluted land. The framework has been developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), state and federal governments, environmental authorities and clean-up industries.

Dr Bruce Kennedy, the executive policy adviser at CRC CARE, said the framework will encourage every state to meet minimum clean-up requirements, allowing all Australians access to clean groundwater and clean land. He explained that as each state is responsible for its own regulation and remediation of contaminated sites - and these laws differ from state to state - we lack uniform Australian requirements for remediation.

“If we want to clean up Australia more efficiently and effectively, we need a common approach to help fill in the gaps as well as share useful guidance with one another,” Dr Kennedy said.

The voluntary framework will include guidelines on developing remediation plans, such as how to:

  • choose the best clean-up methods, the most cost-effective technology and treat different contaminants;
  • protect clean-up workers;
  • address the concerns of surrounding neighbours during clean-up;
  • document the entire clean-up process for future reference;
  • validate and monitor the site after remediation.

Apart from protecting the public from toxic groundwater and land, Dr Kenny claims an effective clean-up will also boost the local economy. He noted that cities contain many contaminates sites, eg, the remains of chemical factories and power stations, and as cities continue to grow, this land is needed for redevelopment.

“The better we can clean up these sites, the higher their economic value and the greater the safety of their local communities,” he said.

Over the next two years, CRC CARE will release a series of documents for public comment. Two documents are currently available: the first focusing on worker health and safety considerations; the second on the principles of the new framework. The public submission deadline for both documents is 14 November 2014.

For more information on the framework, which is expected to be completed in 2016, click here.

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