Contaminated land

Some sites have waste or chemicals on or below the surface, or in groundwater. When these cause actual or potential harm to people or the environment, a site is considered contaminated.

Environmental Protection Act 2017

New environmental protection laws started in Victoria on 1 July 2021.

The Environmental Protection Act 2017 (EP Act) introduces the:

The GED applies to all Victorians. It means we all have a responsibility to minimise the risk of harm to human health and the environment from our activities.

All Victorian landowners and land managers must comply with the duty to manage and duty to notify.

This means that all landowners and land managers, including Council, have a role to manage contamination on their land. We all must minimise the risk of harm to human health and the environment.

If land is contaminated beyond set thresholds, the landowner or manager must notify EPA Victoria.

What we are doing

We commenced proactive testing of our sites in 2020. Sites likely to be used by children (childcare centres, children’s playgrounds, community centres and parks) were prioritised for testing first due to the sensitivity of users.

When contamination is identified, we implement management measures or clean-up to ensure sites are safe for continued use.

Many sites have already been tested during upgrades or redevelopment and contamination is already managed effectively.

Why does contamination exist at some sites?

Soil contamination is common across inner-Melbourne due to historical industrial land uses and historical landfill practices.

For example, some low-lying areas of inner-Melbourne were filled with ash and cinders from gasworks waste, and this has contaminated some soils.

What should I do if I suspect my land is contaminated?

The duty to manage contamination includes identifying contamination you should reasonably know about. If you suspect your land is contaminated or you would like to find out more definitively, have your land assessed by an environmental consultant.

Contact details of consultants can be found on industry body websites:

EPA Victoria has a factsheet on engaging consultants on its website.

The consultant will advise you on:

  • how to manage contamination
  • whether you have a duty to notify EPA Victoria.

If you have further concerns, contact EPA Victoria.

Can I grow food in my garden?

If you grow your own food and are concerned about contaminated soil, use raised planter boxes and purchase soil or potting mix from a nursery.

Macquarie University runs a soil metal testing program called Vegesafe. For a small donation, they will test up to five soil samples for metals. You will get a report containing the results of your soil analysis and advice about what to do next.

Remember, metals are not the only potential contaminants in garden soils. If you are concerned about other contaminants, seek professional advice from an environmental consultant. See above for information from the EPA on engaging consultants.

Would you like to get in touch with us?

Get in touch with the Waste Futures team by logging a query through our Online Services 24/7.

You can also call us during business hours on 03 9209 6777.