Inadequate oversight and poor communication between agencies means that contamination risks are not identified and reported in a timely manner.
- DPLH has not reported its progress on identifying contaminated sites to DWER since 2012. At that time, DPLH considered its program complete and stopped reporting progress to DWER as required. This was despite nearly 500 sites still needing inspection to determine if they were contaminated.
- DWER was unaware that DPLH considered the program finished or had stopped reporting. DWER also had not followed up to determine why reports were not being received. As a result, DWER does not know if DPLH is making effective progress on its program to identify and report potential contamination.
DPLH is not effectively minimising the risks of human and environmental exposure to contamination.
- Risks posed by potentially contaminated sites are considered as a low priority within the agency’s broader priorities and inspections regime. At the current inspection rate, DPLH will take over 50 years to fully assess around 380 sites to determine if they need to be reported to DWER. Even when DPLH identified sites as potentially contaminated we found delays of several years and, in some cases, failure to report the sites to DWER.
- DPLH senior management do not oversee the agency’s progress towards identifying and reporting potential contamination, or site status or risks. Such oversight is necessary to ensure that management decisions on resourcing and prioritisation of site inspections are made with full knowledge of potential risks. Management reporting could also highlight delays and improve the timeliness of reporting sites to DWER.
DPLH does not have reliable information on which to base its investigation and remediation efforts.
- DPLH’s database does not provide reliable figures on the number of potentially contaminated UCL and UMR sites it is responsible for. The number of sites reported to us varied from around 2,602 to 2,668 depending on how the database was queried.
- There were also errors in the number of contaminated sites DPLH is responsible for remediating.
DPLH managed its initial planning, inspections and reporting of sites effectively.
- In 2007, DPLH appropriately planned a program to identify, assess and report to DWER on over 5,000 sites. DPLH exceeded the program’s targets for desktop assessment and site inspections and reported annually to DWER up until 2012. Twenty-two of the 38 sites inspected were reported to DWER as potentially contaminated.
DWER’s oversight of CSMA projects does little to ensure timely completion of works. Three unfinished CSMA projects have experienced significant delays of between 8 and 11 years. One DPLH project has not been completed 11 years on from the original funding.