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Excess Soil Disposal: How to Prepare for Ontario Regulation 406/19

Starting January 1, 2021, new regulations for excess soil management comes into effect, Ontario Regulation 406/19. If you haven’t prepared your company with new excess soil management protocols, then, you may be caught with steep costs for disposal and costly delays in construction.

What is O. Reg. 406/19?

The new regulations fill a recognized gap in the regulations on soil that resulted in excess soil from development being sent to landfills, regardless of its level of contamination. It’s a wasteful use of two resources: landfill space and soil. Landfill space is now at a premium, and using that space to dispose of soil is costly. The same applies to soil – it’s a non-renewable resource that we can divert to a more beneficial place for reuse.

The Regulation is adding a new requirement for detailed environmental characterization with documentation before the soil can be moved. Previously, soil was usually tested for geotechnical purposes with minimal environmental testing in place. With the additional soil characterization, the Regulation will help to prevent contamination, reduce the project’s overall footprint by finding appropriate disposal sites for excess soil, and to provide clarity on how to properly characterize soil.

Understand Excess Soil Management

Previous practices may no longer be valid operationally, and this requires some adjustment to your internal processes, adding skills, and building your knowledge base. Planning early to develop the skills needed to fulfill the Regulation’s requirements find locations for excess soil is crucial to the successful completion of your project. You will need to understand the requirements of the Regulations, soil quality characterizations, and identify disposal sites.

  1. Set Up Your Data and Tracking Process
  2. Build Your List of Soil Reuse, Storage, and Treatment Sites
  3. Implement a Robust Soil Testing Program

Know Your Dirt: Building Your Robust Soil Testing Program

Before you can even begin testing the project site’s soil, you need to understand the level of testing that may be required for your site and to satisfy due diligence requirements. Depending on the history of the site, you will be required to complete minimal to extensive environmental sampling and testing. For example, on an undeveloped greenfield, used typically for agricultural purposes, you will not be required to complete the same level of testing as for a previously developed property.

A site history always starts with a preliminary desktop review that includes reviewing the historical records, topological maps, and groundwater flows. That will identify any past uses, determine the type and amount of testing necessary, and prevent any surprises further down the road.

Implement Your Sampling and Analysis Plan

The site’s history and relevant features will give you the information to create a sampling plan that targets the soil locations with the greatest impacts. A complex and large brownfield will require a more extensive sampling plan than a less variable site with a straight forward or green history. At this early stage, you may already have some idea of the soil you may find on-site and can already start planning the excess soil disposal. If you’re working with a geotechnical firm, they can share with you the preliminary research and soil sampling plan at this stage.

The second step involves on-site soil sampling for contaminants. A well-executed sampling and analysis plan will help you to characterize the quantity and quality of the soil. The proper documentation, a Soil Characterization Report, for example, will provide the information to plan your excess soil disposal.

Depending on the soil’s characterization, the landfill will still be the most appropriate disposal site. Yet, under the new Regulations, the construction industry will move to a more sustainable model.

PRI Engineering supports companies in the testing and soil analysis as they build up their internal processes.