The issue of soil recycling (e.g., excess soils from construction and demolition sites) is picking up steam, notably in Toronto where members of a subcommittee of the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA) and others attended an information session and participated in conference calls on Best Management Practices (BMP) of excess soils. Kathleen Anderson of Ontario’s environment ministry has been coordinating some of this conversation.
The ministry has been commended for bringing forward BMP proposals as the development of plans and tracking of soils is worthwhile. According to a summary of one presentation, a number of concerns and issues have been raised, such as:
– provide Soil Mapping to assist with soil management in a regional context (as the Dutch have done)
– reliance on two Qualified Persons (for source site and receiving site) seems unwieldy
– issues with financial assurance: how calculated? payable to whom (municipality or third party)?
– interface of large and small sites will result in complexities
– definition of “intended use”: Dutch have a three year limitation on soil banking
– need to support objective, as Dutch have, that slightly contaminated soil can be reused
– public consultation is unnecessary if ministry criteria have been met (this will serve only to delay the process)
– Ministry guidance required to ensure that a consistent approach is taken by municipalities across Ontario
– certain municipalities indicated that public consultation is included in their by-laws but agreed that provincial guidance is needed for suitable fill locations (e.g., not on an aquifer)
– procurement identified as a continuing problem for contractors: risk is placed on private sector but might not have access to testing documents
– procurement: receiving sites are not identified by municipalities (cost implications)
During a question period, Kathleen Anderson indicated that the ministry has had preliminary discussions on the proposed BMP with other ministries but that feedback from MTO, MOI and MNR would be sought.
A municipal survey tabled at the June 29 meeting — Municipal By-law Review — revealed that only 23 of 85 municipalities have a relevant by-law that mentions soil quality. Of these 23, 14 provide a description of unacceptable material without referring to either the EPA or specific soil quality criteria under O.Reg. 153/04 (as amended). Eight refer to the EPA without a specific reference to soil criteria under O.Reg 153/04. Only one municipality out of 23 makes specific reference to O.Reg. 153/04, Table 1 standards for fill. As a result of this survey, three recommendations were made:
1) form a provincial-municipal-industry working group to develop a consistent approach for soil management in municipal by-law and procurement practices,
2) province to provide guidance to municipalities on specific regulations and applicable tables to be used in by-laws, and
3) develop a protocol for contractors and developers that are generating and receiving soils at site but are not subject to the Record of Site Condition.
Parties interested in Best Management Practices for excess soils should contact ONEIA and follow progress on this important file in the coming months. Soil is a valuable resource worth recycling that should not simply be hauled to landfill disposal.