Your Duty to Notify – get on the front foot
South East Queensland has experienced significant rainfall over the past few weeks and it’s likely that the intensity of rainfall depth recorded on your site may have exceeded the design criteria of your drainage and sediment controls. As a result, either your sediment controls have overtopped or failed, or your temporary drainage has been damaged or destroyed and discharged sediment laden water from site. This may have caused Environmental Harm or water pollution provisions and will have triggered your Duty to Notify under the EP Act, indeed your local regulator is probably expecting your notification.
While the amount of rain experienced certainly forms part of your defence, it is not in itself a defence to Environmental Harm. So, prior to notification we recommend you compile all additional relevant information to support and accompany your notification. This may include:
Evidence that your site was compliant with the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan prior to rainfall. This may include inspection records, photographs and sediment basin checklists.
Evidence that the release has occurred as a result of the quantity of rainfall rather than non-compliance on site. This may include a post-rainfall assessment/inspection checklist and records of rainfall on site.
Proposed corrective actions. Evidence may include a corrective action register or program of works.
If the process sounds familiar, it closely follows your typical incident inspection/reporting format and this may be a good starting point in terms of project documentation.
Remember, it’s far better to be proactive in your notification than be caught out!