Why Is It So Difficult to Dispose of Contaminated Soils in Massachusetts?

soil testingSoils management and disposal has been a constant headache during construction projects all over Massachusetts. This always leads to the question of: Why?

In order to answer this question, it is worth looking at these issues from the landfill’s point of view. There are several competing factors that landfill operators face in order to operate their business.

The availability of space in Massachusetts landfills is rapidly dwindling and most landfills are strictly limited by the amount of materials they can accept per day. This lack of available storage volume results in increased prices and has put landfill operators in the drivers seat for what material they will accept and when. These constraints can bring large fast-moving projects to a sudden halt if there is no place to keep material before its final disposal location (remember, you’re not the only company looking to dispose of excess material).

Aside from the space available and volume of material accepted per day, there is another underlying concern that many construction projects ignore or forget to consider: proper characterization. Landfills in Massachusetts will not accept material if proper and thorough pre-characterization is not submitted in advance. Full chemical characterization and professional documentation of materials shipped to the facility must be completed in order to be accepted. Depending on results of this characterization, disposal in Massachusetts may not be an option. This can significantly increase costs for disposal as well as transportation.

To alleviate some of the hassles with soil disposal, here are some helpful tips:

  • Pre-characterize soil that will likely be disposed of offsite. This will help avoid surprises during construction and readily identify which facilities may accept it.
  • Hire an Environmental Engineering Firm that has strong relationships with receiving facilities and that can assist you on the details of soil disposal and transportation. It pays to have knowledge of what to expect during your project before you begin.  A good environmental management partner will be able to identify cost savings by transporting with your own trucks depending on soil characterization vs. subcontracting to a hazmat soil hauler.
  • Keep your promise to disposal facilities.  A moving delivery schedule will move you to the end of the line with the receiving facility.

SAK Environmental has extensive experience in handling soil disposal issues at all stages of construction, from pre-characterization of material to final deposition. If you have any questions regarding soil disposal and transportation, don’t hesitate to contact Steve Dowaliby at 978-688-7804 ext. 119 or sdowaliby@sakenvironmental.com.