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    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    State Moves to Recoup Contamination Cleanup Costs

    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    State Moves to Recoup Contamination Cleanup Costs

    The Queensland Government is to tighten legislation to recover costs incurred from clean up operations following accidents which cause environmental damage and contamination.

    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Andrew McNamara, told Parliament today that legislation will be introduced to make landholders potentially liable for clean up costs as well as any business operating from the site.

    “Environmental damage is sometimes caused by industrial accidents which result in run off into waterways, land degradation and other unfortunate consequences,” Mr McNamara said.

    “The current remedy includes issuing a clean up notice under the Environmental Protection Act following a contamination incident.

    “At present, notices can only be issued to the business operating at the site.

    “If the business doesn’t have the capacity to fund the clean up or goes bust as a result of the accident, the cost of remediating any environmental damage falls to the Government.

    “I don’t think that’s right.

    “The unfortunate reality is that industrial accidents can cause the release of chemicals and toxins, resulting in contamination of the premises, adjoining land and nearby waterways.

    “This can leave the State with a multi-million dollar clean up bill.”

    Mr McNamara said the Environmental Protection Act will be amended to enable the recovery of costs incurred by the State if it becomes necessary for the Government to undertake the clean up.

    He said the changes will also improve powers to require clean up following contamination incidents.

    “My department is preparing legislative changes to extend responsibility for cleaning up to include landowners who have derived – and will continue to derive – a commercial benefit from the land,” Mr McNamara said.

    “The clean up will be able to be done either directly by the landowner or by the State with costs borne by the landowner.

    “Notices will also be able to be registered on the property title as a charge on the land until the clean up is completed satisfactorily.

    “If the original recipient is a company and fails to comply with the notice, the notice can also be issued to a director or parent company.

    “This will improve the prospects for the State to recover any costs expended by introducing a clean up notice which requires the clean up works to be done, and a cost recovery notice if the State undertakes the clean up.

    “The effect would be that taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for such environmental clean ups.

    “It’s appropriate that parties who profit from any industrial activity bear the risk rather than the State.”

    Mr McNamara said the changes will not be retrospective.

    Media contact: Peter McCarthy 3336 8004