Soil disposal can be a simple land contamination solution, however, increasing environmental responsibilities and escalating disposal costs can make it an expensive option. Careful soil classification and a disposal strategy can help manage costs.
Soil classification is compulsory
Soil disposal starts with classifying waste to determine which soils are contaminated and need treatment, and which soils can be reused. The NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) defines five classes of soil based on their physical and chemical contamination status. The Act also outlines testing and disposal requirements.
VENM and ENM
Soils classified as VENM or ENM are essentially uncontaminated and can be reused. VENM, “virgin excavated natural material” refers to soil that exists in its natural, undisturbed state at the time of assessment. ENM or “excavated natural material” is soil that does not qualify as “virgin” but is also clean and reusable.
Disposal to Landfill
Soil that is not classified VENM or ENM must go to a licensed waste facility or be remediated on site. Facilities charge according to the level of contamination. Disposal costs for general solid waste (with relatively low levels of contamination) are around $230 a tonne while soil classified as hazardous waste (exceeding the highest contamination thresholds) costs around $1,000 a tonne to dispose of.
There are heavy fines for landholders who accept or illegally dispose of contaminated fill. Remediation consultants can manage soil disposal to suitably licensed facilities and obtain the correct documentation.
Depending on the contaminant profile, soil with a low risk of harm may be accepted by a soil recycler at considerably cheaper rates than landfill (around $50/tonne).
Who can assess soil?
In NSW, a suitably qualified consultant must classify soil before it can be disposed of. Geo-Logix consultants are specialists in contamination assessment and soil disposal and will ensure you maintain your duty of care with the most cost-effective soil disposal option.