Contamination is a potential threat to the value of your property and any potential purchaser in Australia of property should have a Preliminary Site Investigation (Contamination Assessment) undertaken prior to purchase. Generally Australia has somewhat lagged behind areas like North America in the Due Diligence assessment prior to purchase of real estate. The recent articles in the Sydney Morning Herald indicate to the public how widespread contamination can be and its potential impacts to properties hundreds of metres from the point of contamination. The potential for human health impacts can be high due to dangerous chemicals in the soil or watertable from direct contact or vapour intrusion into residential buildings. We at Anderson Environmental Pty Ltd recommend a thorough assessment of the potential of contamination before a property is purchased as the potential clean up and health costs are high.
As Environmental Consultants in Sydney we undertake Contamination Reports for a wide range of clients for a wide range of purposes. Often these are requested by councils for sites with a history which may indicate there is potential for contamination or for sites with an unknown site history. Whilst some clients see this is unnecessary it is important to understand that the potential risk to human health can be high and that it is a legislative requirement for government authorities to be cautious about such risks.
For Preliminary Site Assessments and Detailed Site Assessments consent authorities are required to adhere to the requirements of legislation including SEPP 55 and the National Environmental Protection (Assessment of Contamination) Measure.
For risk management and due diligence, we highly recommend that our clients undertake at least a Tier 1 Preliminary Site Assessment (PSI) before they purchase any land. This is because contamination is often not obvious when purchasing and once that purchase is made then the contamination and its resulting clean up cost is most often the responsibility of the new owner. Such a liability is not something that any purchaser would knowingly accept and the clean up costs can be in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in many cases and for more highly contaminated sites in the millions. Due diligence is highly important with any purchase and this is an area which is often overlooked.
Across North America these assessments are undertaken for almost every loan written by a bank for any property which has a potential risk of contamination and banks often will not loan a purchaser money if there is contamination present. We recommend all land purchasers consider a Preliminary Site Assessment review.
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