The province of Ontario has implemented the On-Site Soil Management Regulation (Regulation 406/19) to ensure the best management of excess soil from construction projects. Phase 1 of Ontario’s on-site soil management project came into effect on January 1st, 2021. The soil that is affected by this regulation is any soil that has been excavated from a construction site. The purpose of the regulation is to ensure that the most amount of soil is reused on a future construction site. The goal ultimately from the province is to reduce the amount of soil that is designated as waste.
Ontario’s On-Site Soil Management Regulation (Regulation 406/19) regulation project is to ensure that resources from a job site are not poorly wasted and the materials are able to see their full reuse potential. When the province refers to “Excess Soil”, it is talking about soil, including soil that includes rocks that have been excavated from a project area. This does not include hazardous soil, or soil from a pit, quarry, or aggregate site. The soil also must be dry soil that is intended to be deposited at a reuse site.
The On-Site Soil Management Regulation (Regulation 406/19) does exempt projects from the regulation, but most construction sites that include excavation will have to follow the government regulation without exemption.
There are exemptions from the documentation that is required under the regulation. These exemptions include soil that has been removed from an agricultural site within the meaning of Ontario Regulation 153/04, and when the project area for removal is a parkland, regulation use, or institution use within the meaning of the Ontario regulation 153/04. When the project leader knows that the soil has been affected by contaminants, the exemptions do not apply.
The process set out by the government covers several phases of soil management, but the primary requirements are: ensuring that there is an assessment of past uses; there is a proper sampling of the current soil on-site; completing a Soil Characterization Report; assessing the destination of soil in the soil destination report, and using the Tracking System to ensure that each load of excess soil reaches the pre-approved destination.
The assessment of past uses is to ensure that contaminated soil is located and that it is remediated and sent to the proper recycling location and does not end up at a soil reuse site, as hazardous materials are not included in this Ontario Regulation. This step is the key feature of the On-Site Soil Management Regulation by the province. The purpose of this is to ensure that a qualified person is able to gain an initial idea of the quality of soil that is on the site and to identify all of the available reuse sites.
A Qualified Person as per Ontario Regulation 153/04, a person meets the qualifications to be a qualified person if the person holds a license, limited or temporary license with the Professional Engineering Act, or the person has a certificate of registration under the Professional Geoscientists Act, 2000 and is a practicing, temporary or limited member of the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario.
The Sampling and Analysis Plan is when a Qualified Person assesses the characteristics of the soil to ensure that once the soil is fully understood, there is no need to adjust the original plan set out from the assessment of past use. Sampling and analysis are essential for the soil characterization report to ensure that there is a laboratory understanding of the project area.
The Soil Characterization Report is the final report to explain the quality of soil that was sampled and tested by the Qualified Person working on the project. In this report, the Qualified Person will set out the narrative of the project area by featuring a site plan and valid laboratory certification.
The Tracking System will ensure that the project’s soil reaches all of the pre-approved soil reuse destinations that were set out in the Soil Characterization Report. This is for the final confirmation that the reuse plan reaches its full potential to ensure that no possible soil that is destined to be reused is sent to a waste facility.
Although these challenges may seem like a large amount of additional work for all the project managers that are managing the excavation portion of the project, it is essential to ensure that these steps are taken to ensure that there is minimal waste sent to waste facilities. In conclusion, the priority of the legislation is to ensure that excess soil management is managed to the best of its possibility and that there are not valuable resources being wasted and contaminates are not mismanaged.