Section 39 of the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act) outlines the duty to manage contaminated land. The duty to manage requires you to take reasonably practicable measures to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment from the contamination. 

You have a duty to manage contaminated land if:

You will need to consider if the land, including groundwater, has the potential to be contaminated. We will consider if you reasonably ought to have known about the contamination in our approach to compliance and enforcement. 

You have a duty to manage contamination on your land even if you did not cause the contamination. You have a right to recover reasonable costs from the person who caused or contributed to the contamination.

You can comply with the duty to manage by: 

  • identifying contamination you suspect is present
  • investigating and assessing contamination, with professional help
  • providing and maintaining measures to minimise risk. This may include:
    • interim controls while you assess the contamination
    • clean up to make the site suitable for its current use
    • review of controls to ensure they remain effective.
  • providing information to others that the contamination may affect, where sharing that information will help control the risks.

The measures used to minimise risk should consider what is reasonably practicable. They should also consider the hierarchy of risk controls. 

Read Guide to the duty to manage contaminated land (publication 1977) to for more information.

EPA’s approach to implementation of the duty to manage contaminated land

EPA is committed to a proportionate approach to compliance and enforcement. Our approach considers your risks, state of knowledge, and your history of EPA engagement.


Reviewed 12 December 2022