Sites that have been contaminated by former waste disposal, industrial and similar activities are frequently discovered during changes to land use – for example, from industrial to residential use. In most cases these can be managed at the time that the change of land use occurs.
In rare cases, some sites are found to present an unacceptable risk to human health or to the environment and must be dealt with as a priority. Such sites are typically subject to clean up and/or management under EPA directions.
EPA has a key responsibility in protecting beneficial uses of land and groundwater. Many of these uses are regulated or controlled through measures to prevent contamination of land and groundwater.
EPA has an established environmental audit system; an authoritative means by which planning authorities, landowners, prospective purchasers and others are provided assurance regarding the condition of a site and its suitability for use, frequently in the context of site redevelopment.
EPA also maintains a priority sites register. These systems are designed to assist in management of contaminated sites. Importantly, they also provide information and assurance to the public regarding the condition of certain sites.