Asbestos – contaminated sites

Contaminated sites are pieces of land, including the soil, sediment and surface and ground water that have become polluted with materials or agents. This may present a risk to human health, the environment or environmental values.

Contamination may arise from a range of human activities, including by industry. The situation needs to be properly managed, often through remediation.


Contaminated Sites Act 2003 (external site) (CS ACT) and the associated Contaminated Sites Regulations 2006 (external site) came into effect on 1 December 2006.

The CS Act is the most progressive contaminated sites legislation in Australia and is intended to complement, rather than duplicate, existing legislation.

The CS Act provides a stronger legal framework for reporting, assessment and management of contaminated sites than was previously available.

This is important in view of the fact that an increasing number of potentially contaminated sites are being proposed for redevelopment for commercial or residential purposes.

The Department of Environment Regulation administers the CS Act, but the Environmental Health Directorate of the Department of Health provides DER with advice on the public health aspects of contamination.

WA Health involvement helps to ensure that the process and result of site clean-up do not expose nearby communities and eventual tenants and residents to unacceptable contaminant levels in the air, soil and water.


WA Health has developed a range of guidance and information material relating to the investigation and management of contaminated sites.

This relates most especially to asbestos, which is a human rather than an environmental concern.

The Guidelines for the Assessment, Remediation and Management of Asbestos-Contaminated Sites in Western Australia – May 2009 (PDF 3.38MB) serve as the primary asbestos guidance in the State.

The publication, gazetted under the CA Act in 2010, was a joint initiative of DER and the Department of Health.

In addition to this publication, WA Health has released a number of supporting guidance notes designed to:

  • help interpret the Guidelines
  • apply to particular asbestos contamination situations.

The Asbestos Guidelines Summary Sheet - May 2009 (PDF 190KB) (Updated May 2012) is an important tool to assist the interpretation and implementation of the Guidelines as it:

  • lists and references key recommended practices in the Guidelines
  • is updated on annual basis to reflect relevant recent operational experiences.

The Guidance Note on Recommended Procedures for Laboratory Analysis of Asbestos in Soil – May 2011(PDF 357KB) is designed primarily for:

  • analytical laboratories
  • environmental consultants.

They may require more detail about the recommended analytical procedures outlined in Section 4.1.8 of the Guidelines.

The Guidance Note on the Management of Small-Scale Low-Risk Soil Asbestos Contamination – May 2009 (PDF 121KB) describes a simplified process for handling some contaminated sites and is intended for use by Local Government Environmental Health Officers. It is:

  • discussed in Section 1.2.4
  • included as Appendix B of the Guidelines.

The Guidance Note on the Identification, Assessment and Management of Asbestos Contamination in Regional Public Areas – May 2011 (PDF 394KB) was prepared to assist regional park managers address the issue of asbestos cement debris in a practical and effective manner.

Factsheets and brochures

The following fact sheets provide information on asbestos-contaminated soil:

The Information for Owners and Occupiers – May 2009 (PDF 105KB) is recommended for use by developers and builders.

This resource can be used to provide information and reassurance to prospective or existing owners and occupiers of a managed asbestos-contaminated site.

The Brochure is discussed in Section 5.3 and included as Appendix E of the Guidelines.

More information

Phone the Environmental Health Hazards Unit on 9388 4999.

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Public Health