Health requirements for mining and construction camps

This page explains the Department of Health Environmental Health Branch requirements for mining camps and construction camps in the Northern Territory (NT).

Food business registration

A camp’s commercial food preparation area is considered to be a food business and needs to be registered with the Department of Health. 

All food businesses must meet the minimum standards prescribed by the Food Standards Code.

For more information go to register or renew a food business.

Staff accommodation and sanitary facilities

Staff accommodation doesn't need Department of Health approval, however, it must be maintained in a good state of repair and in a clean and sanitary condition so as not to cause a public health nuisance. 

The Public and Environmental Health Guidelines for Public Accommodation outline the general requirements for conducting a public accommodation business, such as the need to prevent overcrowding and provide an acceptable standard of sanitation, amenity and safety.

Adequate numbers of sanitary facilities must be provided in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and relevant NT legislation.

On-site wastewater management

On-site wastewater management (OSWM) using septic tank systems is often the most suitable option for camps that have no major site constraints and have less than 20 staff. 

Larger camps may need to consider a secondary treatment system or waste stabilisation ponds. 

For camps in regional areas, connection to the town’s reticulated sewerage is required. 

In all cases, advice should be sought from a qualified hydraulic consultant about the most suitable method of OSWM. 

For more information go to wastewater management.

Trade waste pre-treatment devices

Trade waste is defined as a 'liquid or liquid borne waste generated from any industry, business, trade, manufacturing process or similar that is approved for discharge to sewer but does not include wastewater from a toilet, shower, hand basin or similar fixture'. 

It is not recommended that trade waste be discharged to an OSWM system, however, commercial food premises at the camp may prepare cooked food generating liquid trade waste that includes food scraps, detergents, fats, oils and grease. 

This liquid trade waste has a substantial impact on an OSWM system, and if not contained by pre-treatment equipment will cause system failure. All greasy liquid trade waste must be discharged to sewer through a pre-treatment device that has been approved by Power and Water Corporation’s Trade Waste Section.

Power and Water Corporation’s requirements for trade waste pre-treatment devices can be downloaded from the Power and Water Corporation website.

Waste stabilisation ponds

Waste stabilisation ponds, also known as sewage ponds, are commonly used in the NT for the treatment of wastewater before final disposal.

Legislation controls the reuse or disposal of treated sewage effluent. This legislation is enforced by the Department of Health and the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA). 

The discharge of treated sewage effluent to land or water may therefore occur, but only in accordance with pertinent legislation, or in its absence, to any reasonable conditions imposed by the relevant authority.

Where treated sewage effluent is proposed to be discharged to a waterway and where the discharge does not have a potential to impact on public health, the Department of Health will liaise with the NT EPA as part of the approval process. 

Consideration will be given to the reuse/irrigation of treated sewage effluent in controlled public access areas, constructed and operated for this express purpose.

For more information go to wastewater management.

Any proposal to construct waste stabilisation ponds at a camp requires Department of Health approval.

Potable water supply

Managers of private water supplies (such as rainwater tanks or private bores) servicing camps, should have water routinely analysed to make sure it is safe as part of their risk management routine. 

If water is provided to staff the potable water supply should comply with the 2011 NHMRC Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG). Read the guidelines on the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council website.

The Australia New Zealand Food Safety Standards require every food business to be supplied with potable water, which is particularly relevant to premises using private water supplies. 

For more information go to private water supply management.

For the purpose of the annual Food Act registration food business owners must demonstrate to the Department of Health that they have a potable water supply. 

This includes arrangement for a certified analysis of the water to confirm the water meets the requirements of the ADWG. This may be an annual credible analysis of a kitchen tap sample showing 'pass' in total coliform and E. coli.

For more information go to private water supplies in food businesses.

Bores

Bores should be constructed to the standards outlined in the 3rd edition of the Minimum Construction Requirements for Water Bores in Australia, 2012.

Bore setbacks to OSWM systems shall be in accordance with the NT Code of Practice for On-site Wastewater Management.

Fuel storage

Fuel storage facilities should be discussed with NT WorkSafe.

Reference should be made to AS 1940-2004 (and amendments) Storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.

Occupational health and safety

Camps are expected to comply with NT WorkSafe legislation throughout their entire construction and operation phases.

Solid waste management

The Waste Management and Pollution Control Act requires that certain waste management activities be licensed or approved by NT EPA. Read the law

An NT EPA approval for a landfill (rubbish dump) is not required if the landfill is for domestic waste generated on the premises or domestic waste from temporary construction camps.

An NT EPA licence for a landfill is required if the camp serves a permanent population of more than 1,000 persons or if the project operations generate hazardous waste. 

For more information contact the NT EPA on (08) 8924 4139 or go to the NT EPA website.

Providing the landfill does not have to be licensed or approved by NT EPA, then you will still need to demonstrate to the Department of Health that the camp’s landfill meets best practice and will not cause a public health nuisance. 

Reference should be made to the Guidelines for Siting, Design and Management of Solid Waste Disposal Sites in the Northern Territory 2003, which can be downloaded from the NT EPA website.

Radioactive sources

The Radiation Protection Act applies to servicing, testing, installing, decommissioning, manufacturing, possessing, using, storing, transporting, disposing of or otherwise dealing with a radiation source. Read the law.

The provisions of the Radiation Protection Act will apply if any part of the project includes the use of radiation sources. The act covers safe control of the use of all radiation sources, both ionising and non-ionising. The source can be radiation apparatus or radioactive material. Natural sources of radiation may be included in the definition if radiation exposure results from the enterprise.

Generally, unmodified concentrations of radioactive material in most raw materials are not included unless there is a possibility of significant radiation exposure. If the unmodified concentration is below concentrations of radioactivity as listed in the latest edition of the National Directory for Radiation Protection, that material is not defined as radioactive.

Notwithstanding, the Radiation Protection Act is not expected to apply to any proposal in which the most exposed person could not receive a radiation dose that is greater than 1 millisievert (mSv) per year.

Public health nuisance

The construction and operation of the camp must not create a public health nuisance, in particular from dust or other particulate matter.

Any release to ground or surface water in excess of that prescribed by the NT EPA waste discharge licence should trigger an impact study, which includes an analysis of potential risks to public health including impacts on drinking water supplies and bioaccumulation of metals or other identified parameters from the discharge in fish.

Insurance

Note that a building and insurance policy may be invalidated if you fail to follow the relevant approval processes and fire safety requirements.

Contact

For more information contact Environmental Health.

Last updated: 27 June 2017