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  • Writer's pictureLand Insight Resources

Managing Contaminated Legacy Areas: Appreciating the Past for a Cleaner Future

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Contaminated Legacy Areas (CLA) are regions or sites that have been polluted by hazardous materials or substances, posing risks to human health and the environment. These areas are often the result of past industrial or military activities, such as manufacturing, mining, or waste disposal. Despite efforts to remediate and mitigate risks, legacy contamination can persist for many years.

The legacy of site contamination is a challenging issue for regulators worldwide. In the past, chemicals were disposed of without concern for long-term impacts. However, regulations and awareness have increased, and we now understand the risks that contaminated legacy sites pose.

Lead, heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, and hydrocarbons are among the substances that can cause contamination. Monitoring and surveillance of some sites may be required for some time following rehabilitation, depending on the type of exposure and contamination.

Legacy sites can be found in remote or urban areas and can vary in the extent of contamination, quantity of materials involved, and activity levels. Urban legacy sites may have been built over for residential or other purposes, and the ownership of these areas may be uncertain.

Fortunately, many legacy sites have been successfully remediated and repurposed for public use. For example, the Barangaroo area in Sydney has been remediated, a former Gaswork operated on the site between 1841 and 1921 leaving behind a toxic legacy of waste. Today the area is a dynamic cultural, residential, business, and civic hub. These successful cases show that managing and remediating contaminated sites is possible.

We need to identify and adequately manage potentially contaminated areas to minimise risks to our health and the environment.

Although site contamination exists in most urbanised areas, our understanding of how legacy contaminants can harm us is relatively new. It is important that we appreciate the legacy of site contamination and work to minimise the risks to ourselves and the planet.

By acknowledging and addressing the legacy of site contamination, residents, industry, and governments can work together to manage and remediate these areas.

With increased awareness and regulations, we can minimise the risks and move towards a cleaner future.


To find out more about how you can minimise your risks by accessing our national database of Contaminated Legacy Areas (CLA), you can get in contact with us at

Our team will be more than happy to speak with you!


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