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Contaminated sites

asbestos soil contaminationContaminated sites are pieces of land including the soil, sediment and surface and ground water that have become polluted with materials or agents which may present a risk to human health, the environment or environmental values. Contamination may have arisen from a range of human activities including by industry and needs to be properly managed, often through remediation.


The Contaminated Sites Act 2003 (CS Act) and the associated Contaminated Sites Regulations 2006 came into effect on 1 December 2006. The CS Act is the most progressive contaminated sites legislation in Australia and is intended to complement, rather than duplicate, existing legislation.

The CS Act provides a stronger legal framework for reporting, assessment and management of contaminated sites than was previously available. This is important in view of the fact that an increasing number of potentially contaminated sites are being proposed for redevelopment for commercial or residential purposes. The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) administers the CS Act but the Environmental Health Directorate of the Department of Health of WA provides DEC with advice on the public health aspects of contamination. WA Health involvement helps to ensure that the process and result of site cleanup do not expose nearby communities and eventual tenants and residents to unacceptable air, soil or water contaminant levels.


WA Health has developed a range of guidance and information material relating to the investigation and management of contaminated sites, and most especially on asbestos which is a human rather than an environmental concern.

The primary asbestos guidance are the Guidelines for the Assessment, Remediation and Management of Asbestos-Contaminated Sites in Western Australia – May 2009. The Guidelines are a joint DEC and WA Health publication which were gazetted under the CA Act in 2010. In addition to the Guidelines WA Health has released a number of supporting guidance notes designed to help interpret the Guidelines or to apply to particular asbestos contamination situations.

The Asbestos Guidelines Summary Sheet – May 2011 is an important tool to assist the interpretation and implementation of the Guidelines. It lists and references key recommended practices in the Guidelines and is updated on annual basis to reflect relevant recent operational experiences.

The Guidance Note on Recommended Procedures for Laboratory Analysis of Asbestos in Soil – May 2011 is designed primarily for analytical laboratories and environmental consultants who may require more detail about the recommended analytical procedures outlined in Section 4.1.8 of the Guidelines.

The Guidance Note on Management of Small-Scale Low-Risk Soil Asbestos Contamination – May 2009 describes a simplified process for handling some contaminated sites and is intended for use by Local Government Environmental Health Officers. It is discussed in Section 1.2.4 and included as Appendix B of the Guidelines.

The Guidance Note on the Identification, Assessment and Management of Asbestos Contamination in Regional Public Areas – May 2011 was prepared to assist regional park managers address the issue of asbestos cement debris in a practical and effective manner.

Factsheets and Brochures

The following fact sheets provide information on asbestos-contaminated soil:

The Information Brochure is recommended for use by developers to provide information and reassurance to prospective or existing owners and occupiers of a managed asbestos-contaminated site. The document is also provided as a microsoft word template which will allow for site specific information to be incorporated and saved, especially where identified. The Brochure is discussed in Section 5.3 and included as Appendix E of the Guidelines.

Useful Websites

Last Updated: Monday 27 June 2011

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