A $60,000 FINE!? Know your legal obligations when it comes to notifying contaminated land!
Are you aware that your property or the property that you are working on could be contaminated?
If you are aware, and you fail to notify the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), serious fines could apply.
What is a “notifiable Activity”?
This is an activity that is likely to cause contamination. In town, these activities might include some types of manufacturing or disposal operations, printing, petroleum or chemical storage. On a rural property, you might have a livestock dip or spray race.
Who is required to notify EHP?
Just about everyone! Employees/employers, company directors, contractors and agents, engineers, project managers, auditors, local government, owners and occupiers of Land.
When must notification occur?
If contamination or environmental harm is likely to occur or has occurred, notification to EHP has to be given within 24 hours of an event occurring. You must also give notification to an owner or occupier of land (so say a tenant) if it is likely that their land could be affected.
What happens if you do not notify?
Fines of up to almost $60,000 can apply in certain circumstances so the fines are significant. Tenants and Occupiers of Land should be aware that they must notify the owners of the Land or Fines also apply if the owner is not notified.
How do I notify?
There are particular forms and guidelines you can use online through EHP, or you can contact them directly.
What about if I am purchasing a property?
This positive duty to notify should result in an increase in properties being noted on the Contaminated Land Register. Appropriate searches and advice should be obtained when you purchase a new property or if you take on a long term lease of a premises.