The development of the National Remediation Framework (NRF) was led by the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) with strategic guidance and oversight provided through the National Remediation Framework Steering Group, which included representatives of industry and governments, as well as other relevant parties. Development of the NRF focused on the practicalities of remediating and managing contaminated sites, building upon existing practice and regulation.
The NRF aligns with the harmonisation and ‘seamless environmental regulation’ objectives of the former Council of Australian Governments Standing Council on Environment and Water. The Heads of EPAs will advise on the adoption of the NRF.
The National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure
The NRF complements the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure (ASC NEPM), which provides a nationally harmonised approach for the assessment of site contamination.
The ASC NEPM is made under the National Environment Protection Council Acts and was first made by the National Environment Protection Council in 1999, with an updated version in 2013. During the update process, stakeholders throughout Australia requested development of guidance on national remediation and management; however, the National Environment Protection Council Acts do not allow for a National Environmental Protection Measure on remediation and management of contaminated sites.
Consensus on the need for an NRF
The need for a national framework for the remediation and management of contaminated sites was further highlighted by regulators during the development of the bid to extend CRC CARE beyond its initial funding term. Following the success of that bid, CRC CARE committed to the development of a national framework.
The environmental consulting sector also strongly supported the development of the NRF. In its submission, the Australasian Land and Groundwater Association (ALGA) stated that a remediation framework would, “assist in achieving a more consistent approach to remediation of contaminated land and groundwater across the various Australian jurisdictions.”
The finalisation and adoption of the NRF is a significant step forward for Australia, in that together with the ASC NEPM, it provides a comprehensive package of nationally harmonised guidance for the assessment, remediation and management of site contamination.