BC begins new soil relocation system to encourage sustainability

The receiving site for large quantities of contaminated soil must implement a soil management plan signed and developed by a qualified professional. Photo credit: B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

*The following regulatory news article is intended to be a preview of the legislation and not a replacement for the actual guidance from the government. For the comprehensive data and all relevant information, please visit the linked source material within the article.

British Columbia’s plan to divert excess work site soil away from landfills and towards a more sustainable future began on March 1 under Part 8 of the province’s Contaminated Sites Regulation.

The new soil relocation process aims to ensure non-waste quality soil is characterized before it is relocated to receiving sites for beneficial reuse to avoid inadvertent contamination. The soil can find new life as backfill for an excavation, help in constructing a berm or stormwater management pond, or be used to regrade a site for development.

Both Quebec and Ontario have also recently introduced new soil relocation procedures to prevent contamination and encourage beneficial reuse.

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The B.C. process now includes elements of soil sampling as well as notification and registration. The process applies if 30 m3 or more of soil is moved from a work site that hosted Schedule 2 industrial or commercial activities such as mining, smelting, or the manufacturing of batteries or chemicals.

Soil owners must first conduct soil analysis and determine whether contamination is present. If so, it must be determined if the contamination levels exceed applicable land use standards at the planned receiving site.

“Evaluation of soil sampling results must be conducted by a qualified professional and the notification form must be signed by a qualified professional,” states the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

The ministry must be notified at least one week prior to the planned relocation; however, ministry approval is not required.

The amount of soil for relocation must be less than 20,000 m3. Sites that receive soil beyond that threshold are considered high-volume receiving sites. Owners of these sites must register the site by submitting a High Volume Receiving Site Registration Form. These elements do not apply, however, if the soil is low-impact residential, agricultural or park soil. Also exempted is soil used for linear infrastructure maintenance, and construction for projects such as highways, transit, pipelines, sewage and drainage collection systems, as well as flooding or erosion work.

The receiving site for large quantities of contaminated soil must also implement a soil management plan signed and developed by a qualified professional. The soil management plan must be followed through closure and ensure that soil containing organic substances must not be relocated within 10 metres of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Details about the soil must then be registered into the province’s Soil Relocation Information System, which allows Indigenous peoples, local governments and other interested parties to access information on soil relocation.

B.C.’s Soil Relocation Site Map can be viewed here.

There are also a number of situations where soil relocation conditions do not apply. These include: when the receiving site is outside of B.C.; the receiving site is on federal land, other than a reserve; quarry material has been extracted under a Mines Act permit and is transported directly to a receiving site; preload soil originates from a non-Schedule 2 use site; the soil is winter maintenance sand; and the total volume is less than 30 m3 for the same project over two years at a non-high-risk site.

Non-compliance with the new soil relocation conditions could result in fines of up to $200,000 or as much as six months in prison.

Related Professional Development Course

Attend “Excess Soils and Contaminated Sites: The new rules” on May 10th at the 2023 CANECT Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event to learn more about contaminated sites and Ontario’s new excess soils regulation. event takes place May 9-11, 2023 in Vaughan, Ontario. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

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