Land contamination occurs due to leakage of pollutants into the ground and groundwater, usually from commercial and industrial sites.
Although contaminated sites can occur anywhere, they are typically clustered in areas that have been used for industry. Land contamination is particularly important in the City of Botany Bay, as it has been heavily used by industry for at least 100 years. Industries have included tanneries, wool scourers, chemical manufacturers, metal platers, service stations and depots, landfills and dry cleaners.
Much of this industrial use occurred before any environmental protection controls were in place or even considered necessary. This legacy means there are parts of the City that has some contamination on the land and in the groundwater due to:
- Chemicals, such as chlorinated hydrocarbons and other solvents
- petroleum hydrocarbons, such as petrol and diesel
- heavy metals, such as chromium, nickel, lead and arsenic
The identification, investigation, clean-up and management of contaminated sites is important to protect our health and our environment. Due to the industrial history of the area there are several properties in the City of Botany Bay that are in the process of being cleaned up or have a management plan in place.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority is the agency responsible for formulating guidelines for contaminated land investigation and management, and for managing contaminated land and clean-up strategies for significantly contaminated sites. A list of these sites can be found at the EPA in the Record of Notices.
The Botany Bay City Council is responsible for assessing whether a site is contaminated and is suitable for the intended use as part of Development Application process. Council also maintains a register of contaminated sites located within the City.
Contaminated Land Assessment
In accordance with the State Environmental Planning Policy No 55—Remediation of Land, Council requires contamination assessments to be submitted with all Development Applications where:
- the site is known to have been used for a potentially contaminating use or is otherwise suspected by Council to be contaminated
- where the Development Application is for residential or recreational development on land which has been used for any industrial or commercial purpose
- where the Development Application is for a child care facility or school regardless of site history
If a development requires remediation, a sign off that this has been achieved and a Site Audit Statement, which is an independent review of any or all stages of the site investigation process, may also be required.
Independent review into off-site mercury at Orica Botany
In January 2013, the NSW Environment Protection Authority announced that it would conduct an independent review of all information around historical mercury emissions at Botany.
The comprehensive review is overseen by a steering panel, which includes representatives from:
The review assesses the potential for health risks to the adjacent community associated with mercury emissions from the former plant. Further Information can be found at the following links.