Emergency pollution clean-up

Emergency pollution clean-up programs help authorities deal with urgent pollution incidents and prevent harm to the environment or public health.


In all incidents involving hazardous materials, the costs of clean-up and disposal should be borne by the party who caused the incident and/or the owner of the material.

However, sometimes

  • urgent action is needed to avoid harm from serious pollution, and
  • the responsible party hasn’t yet been identified


  • it’s uncertain if the responsible party will pay the clean-up costs.

In such cases, emergency pollution clean-up programs provide funds to local councils and other managers of public lands who need to handle a pollution incident.


The Trust has funded and managed pollution clean-up programs for many years. However, in 2018 we transferred responsibility for them to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA now manages all functions and budgets for emergency pollution clean-up programs.

We are allocating $500,000 a year to the EPA until 2021–22 for the delivery of the programs. The EPA will retain all unspent funds from this allocation, up to a maximum of $2 million, for a rolling fund that can be drawn on to manage large emergency pollution incidents.