Managing SA’s legacy contamination
Groundwater and site contamination have been at the forefront of the EPA’s work over recent months
We continue to work closely with local residents, businesses, the Clovelly Park Mitchell Park Environmental Management Project and local government, to manage the legacy impacts of past polluting practices.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the EPA’s focus is the people who live in the areas currently under investigation and the agency is committed to ongoing communication and engagement to provide residents with all the most up-to-date information available.
“Ensuring the public is safe has always been our priority. We enjoy a relatively good environment in our state, but we have challenges such as dealing with the legacy of past contamination,” said Mr Circelli.
“This is a challenge that all modern urban environments face. With the legislative framework introduced in July 2009 the EPA now has the powers to deal with these historical problems caused by poor environmental practices of the past.
“We will continue our efforts to protect affected communities and to engage local residents and stakeholders to explain our approach in dealing with site contamination.”
The Parliament’s Statutory Authorities Review Committee is conducting an inquiry into the operations of the Environment Protection Authority, particularly regarding public notification protocols of contamination.
Last month Mr Circelli appeared before the Committee to present the EPA’s submission and to respond to questions. In his opening address he said the EPA looks forward to the outcomes of the inquiry.
“We are confident it will assist both the EPA and Government more broadly in determining future improvements, as well as improving the understanding and level of community conversation around site contamination and the management of legacy issues in South Australia” said Mr Circelli.
EPA Board review
The EPA Board is taking this opportunity to review how we can improve our work in managing legacy site contamination issues. This review will look at how site investigations and assessments are prioritised and conducted, and how the EPA communicates with residents and other stakeholders.
A committee has been formed to undertake the review, led by Victorian EPA Chair, Cheryl Batagol who is an expert in bringing restorative justice to those affected by environment protection issues. The current site contamination at Clovelly Park and Mitchell Park is being used as a case study to capture learnings and identify areas for improvement.
Mr Circelli said: “Provisions for managing and responding to site contamination have been in place for 5 years now. We welcome this review as an opportunity to ensure we are best positioned to continue dealing with legacy contamination issues for the next 5 years.”
Clovelly Park/Mitchell Park
The Clovelly Park Mitchell Park Project Management Team was established in August to lead and coordinate the whole-of-Government response to the environmental issues in these 2 suburbs. This team is led by Richard McLachlan (seconded from Renewal SA) with Steve Dangerfield and support resources from SA Water managing the communications and engagement with the affected residents.
This team is working closely with the Clovelly Park and Mitchell Park communities to ensure concerns are heard, questions are answered and the current complex drilling and testing program is fully explained.
As well as supporting the Team, the EPA will continue to focus on its regulatory role in assessing the nature and extent of the environmental issue and undertaking the testing program. In addition, it provides other government agencies involved with the project the opportunity to focus on their functions and specific areas of expertise.
In July a Community Reference Group was convened by the EPA to provide a forum for discussion and information sharing, and to ensure community questions and concerns are addressed in a timely and consistent manner. This group is made up of community members who actively represent local communities and other key stakeholders, and now meets regularly under the Chair of the project team.
For information on the Clovelly Park and Mitchell Park assessment and further investigation area, refer to the CPMP website.
Further assessment at Beverley
Further testing of known groundwater contamination around former and existing industrial sites at Beverley will commence in November.
The EPA has previously advised residents that chemical substances were identified in the groundwater at Beverley and surrounding suburbs and that it should not be used for any purpose until further notice.
As part of investigations for declaring a wider groundwater exclusion zone in Beverley due to the known presence of groundwater contamination, the EPA has sought new advice from SA Health about risks associated with TCE that has been detected. We have agreed that further testing is warranted as a precaution.
The source of this TCE contamination has not yet been determined due to the number of industries currently and formerly operating in the area.
Residents and businesses in the area are being kept up to date on the current groundwater testing program via letters, public information sessions and online updates. In addition a Community Reference Group with representatives from residents, businesses, local health and education bodies, councils and the EPA is being established.