Taking action to meet the duty to manage

Lennie owns a property in an industrial estate on the northern edge of Melbourne. As the owner, she is in management or control. The previous owner provided Lennie with an environmental assessment report. The old report includes results from soil and groundwater sampling and testing done. The assessment considered the current and past land uses of the site. Past use included the chemical treatment of timber for preservation. Lennie is also aware from a report on past insurance claims that there had been several fires at the site. The buildings on site date from the time when asbestos cement sheets and lead paint were widely used. 

Based on this information, Lennie concludes her property is potentially contaminated.  

Lennie has engaged an environmental consultant to help her understand the contamination status. Contaminated land is complex. Lennie does not have suitable qualifications or experience to assess the land herself. 

She asks the consultant to conduct a preliminary site investigation (PSI). The PSI will consider what contamination is present. It will also consider if the contamination poses a risk to human health or the environment. 

The consultant investigates the history. They consider the records provided to Lennie by the previous owner. They also review public records such as historic aerial photography and council records. They look at environmental audits in the area.

The consultant completes the PSI. They identify likely contaminants from past use. These may pose a risk to human health and the environment. The contaminants may include: 

  • metals from the timber treatment 
  • PFAS (Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances - based on the fire history)
  • asbestos from old buildings
  • lead from lead-based paint.

The consultant recommends further assessment to better understand the contamination. This further assessment is a detailed site investigation, or DSI. As part of the DSI, the consultant will consider risks to human health and the environment. They'll also consider how those risks may be mitigated or addressed. This will assist Lennie in meeting the duty to manage.


Reviewed 10 March 2023