Five Key Processes Under Ontario’s On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (O. Reg. 406/19)
August 13, 2020
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Through Ontario’s On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (O. Reg. 406/19), which comes into effect January 1st, 2021, the Canadian province has passed legislation for the management of Excess Soil, defined as soil that has been excavated from construction sites. Although some types of projects are exempt from certain regulatory requirements, proper characterization and documentation is still recommended, and, in many cases, are required. The legislation’s Soil Rules outline five key processes designed to find the best possible beneficial reuse for this non-renewable resource.

Incorporating some or all of these steps will help project stakeholders manage potential liability relating to the reuse of the Excess Soil and help prevent scheduling delays and unforeseen costs.

5 Key Processes
5 Key Processes
5 Key Processes

Assessment of Past Uses

To guide the subsequent stages of the process, the first step is to get an idea of what previous activities were carried out on the source site (“Project Area”). An Assessment of Past Uses (APU) is the foundation of the process. This stage can help your Qualified Person (QP) gain a preliminary idea of what quality of soil you may be working with, which will assist when identifying possible Reuse Sites.

  • Action: Interview the most recent owners and users of the property to see what activities were carried out on it. Review historic records including publicly available municipal plans, historical aerial images, and satellite images.
  • Benefit: This will help reduce the potential for surprises later in the process and identify the part of the Project Area that needs further evaluation.
  • Checkpoint: Have potential beneficial reuse sites been identified? The characteristics of the Reuse Site(s) will help determine what quality standards will apply to the Project Area soil quality. Also, Reuse Site(s) may have their own criteria to consider.

Sampling and Analysis Plan

Based on the physical characteristics of the source Project Area, the volume of soil and potential contaminants of concern, your QP will set out a Sampling and Analysis Plan for assessing the environmental quality of the soil. An initial in-situ sampling program can help determine the quantity of soil and identify potential problem areas. More sampling and analysis can also be done once the soil has been excavated from within ex-situ stockpiles.

  • Action: Consider characterizing the quality of the soil following a staged approach, incorporating both in-situ and ex-situ sampling.
  • Benefit: The QP will be able to respond effectively if there is a need to revise the sampling and analysis plan, to confirm earlier findings or point to new information.
  • Checkpoint: Were any surprises found in the sampling and testing program? If so, the QP should review the site history and consider modifying the sampling and analysis plan.

Soil Characterization Report

The Soil Characterization Report provides a detailed characterization of the soil to be generated at the source Project Area. The QP will present these findings in a narrative format, supported by data tables and site plans, plus laboratory certificates.

  • Action: Consider what additional information receivers of the soils from potential Reuse Sites may require prior to accepting the material, such as any geotechnical limitations or nutrient information for agricultural applications.
  • Benefit: Recognizing, in advance, that suitable Reuse Site(s) may have considerations other than just the environmental quality of the soil should help prevent last-minute delays in gaining acceptance of the material by the Reuse Site.
  • Checkpoint: Does the quality of the Excess Soil meet the specific criteria for each of the proposed Reuse site(s)? If it exceeds the generic standards for excess soil, the Beneficial Reuse Assessment Tool (BRAT) can help establish site-specific soil quality standards. Can treatment or soil banking be undertaken using one of the newly permitted Class 1 Soil Management Sites or can soils be stored temporarily at a Class 2 Soil Management Site to open up additional reuse options and lower total project costs?

Excess Soil Destination Assessment Report

While the Soil Characterization Report outlines the quality and quantity of the Excess Soil, the Destination Assessment Report records where the material is to be beneficially reused or disposed of, if required. This report will list the volumes of soil to be received at each location and verify that the quality of the soil being sent there meets the standards applicable at that location.

  • Action: Identify potential Reuse Site(s) and/or disposal site(s) early in the planning process and develop a preliminary Excess Soil Destination Assessment Report.
  • Benefit: Demonstrating your understanding of what the regulatory requirements are for each Reuse Site will help identify potential data gaps early on and may help get earlier commitments from potential Reuse Sites.
  • Checkpoint: Has any information changed at the source Project Area (e.g., regarding soil quality or quantity) since the Reuse Site(s) sites agreed to take the Excess Soil?

Tracking System

For many projects, O.Reg. 406/19 will require that a tracking system be implemented to document that each load of Excess Soil reaches its pre-approved destination. It must be robust enough to readily provide information regarding the origin of each load of soil and its destination. The tracking system is the final component required to demonstrate compliance with the legislation.

  • Action: Start developing or identifying a tracking system early in the process that is suitable for the volume of soil that will be moved from the Project Area to the Reuse Site, Temporary Site, or final disposal location.
  • Benefit: Fewer challenges from regulators, fewer project delays, less manual paper shuffling of truck load data, and satisfied recipients of your soil.
  • Checkpoint: Is the tracking system suitable for the complexity of your Project? Do staff or contractors need training? By being fully informed, applying careful documentation and engaging a knowledgeable QP as early as possible in the planning process, your project will have a strategic advantage in smooth implementation.


Denise Lacchin

Denise Lacchin Member Name

Senior Environmental Engineer

Carl Schroeder Member Name

Senior Environmental Engineer


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INFOGRAPHIC:
GOT DIRT? Understanding Terminology in Ontario's Excess Soil Regulations
READ MORE

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:



JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Sign up to get content delivered directly to your inbox

SUBSCRIBE

INFOGRAPHIC:
GOT DIRT? Understanding Terminology in Ontario's Excess Soil Regulations
READ MORE

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:


Denise Lacchin

Denise Lacchin Member Name

Senior Environmental Engineer


Carl Schroeder Member Name

Senior Environmental Engineer




ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Denise Lacchin has over 28 years of experience providing brownfield redevelopment strategies and solutions in Ontario. She has successfully worked with clients assessing environmental impacts on numerous sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons, inorganics and metals, chlorinated solvents and low-level radioactive waste and developing strategies for remediation that complements their redevelopment objectives. Her experience as a Qualified Person (QPESA) in Ontario and as an Environmental Professional (EP) for Site Assessment and Reclamation, includes; developing soil management plans, implementing soil management best practices and tracking systems, and using risk-based approaches for large brownfield/infrastructure sites in accordance with Ontario Regulation 153/04 and now the new On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation 406/19.

Carl Schroeder (M.A.Sc., P.Eng.) is a professional engineer in Ontario with over twenty (20) years of experience as an environmental consultant with Golder. Carl is a Qualified Person under Ontario Regulation 153/04 and has assisted numerous clients with Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and site remediation for general due diligence and in support of Record of Site Conditions in this role. As a generalist environmental engineer, over the course of his career Carl has undertaken or managed hundreds of environmental projects for large and small clients, including the provision of strategic, regulatory and practical advice to clients on managing their environmental risk relating to property transactions, management of excess soil material, demolition, decommissioning and infrastructure (culvert) management.


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