Contaminated land exists when waste or chemical substances are present in concentrations above background levels.

EPA is setting out a way to find out the background levels of some naturally occurring chemical substances. We call this the methodology. It will help assessors when they’re investigating potentially contaminated land.

Your feedback on the proposed methodology will shape the way we determine background levels in Victoria.

About the methodology

The proposed methodology has three main requirements to show that certain naturally occurring chemical substances aren’t present at concentrations above background levels:

  • a literature review and data analysis of local geology and hydrology
  • a conceptual site model (CSM)
  • a multiple-lines-of-evidence approach.

Understanding what background levels are

Section 35 of the Act defines contaminated land as land where a waste or chemical substance is present in concentrations above background levels and creates a risk of harm to human health or the environment.

The Act provides that the background level of a waste or chemical substance is either:

  • the background level specified in, or determined according to, Regulations, environment reference standards (ERSs) or a determination made under the Act


  • if no such specification exists, the naturally occurring concentration of the waste or chemical substance in the vicinity of the land.

New duties for contaminated land

The Victorian Government is committed to modernising Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to meet Victoria’s environment and human health challenges now and into the future.

The amended Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act) is a key part of this modernisation. It will introduce a preventative, duties-based model, including a general environmental duty (GED) and contaminated land duties.

New duties include obligations to manage contaminated land and to notify EPA about contaminated land in certain circumstances.

How we’ll use your feedback

We’ll use your feedback to sense-check the proposed methodology before it becomes law. To best protect our environment and human health, we‘re seeking expert validation on the approach to ensure it’s robust.