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New Guidance for Excess Soil management

The Ministry of the Environment has released its draft Best Management Practices for Soil Management in Ontario for two more months of public comment.

The document outlines the MOE’s “recommendations” and “expectations” for managing the reuse of excess soils, a hugely important issue for the construction industry. The general structure is similar to the draft circulated in April:

  1. At least for now, it will be a guideline, not a regulation.
  2. It applies primarily to “large scale” commercial and residential developments, although those moving soil from other sources are asked to “consider” it. (MOE is asking for comments on what “large-scale” means.
  3. It applies only to soil, not to aggregates, asphalt, concrete, etc.
  4. Both the source and receiving sites must have written fill management plans under the supervision of a Qualified Person (QP) under Reg. 153/04.
  5. Each source site’s soils must be deposited in a distinct, documented area, so that it can be found afterwards if needed.
  6. Municipalities and conservation authorities are encouraged to ask contractors to follow the guidelines, and to post financial assurance to guarantee compliance and remediation if needed.
  7. Temporary soil banks for dedicated purposes are permitted, but require extensive precautions, such as tarping and paved surfaces.
  8. The MOE has rejected the construction industry’s key demand, for regional, multi-source, multi-receiver fill bank sites.
  9. If a receiving site wants an RSC, the Reg. 153/04 (usually Table 1) standards apply. If the receiving site does not want an RSC, the QP can decide which quality standards should apply.
  10. Neither QPs nor property owners can be certain whether the MOE will ultimately accept the QP’s decision, since the MOE reserves the right to “take appropriate action” if soil movement causes adverse effects, such as introducing contaminants or invasive plant or animal species.

Comments may be submitted until January 18, 2013.

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