What you Need to Know about Contaminated Soil Categories

soil assessment

As leaders in soil assessment, we know that it’s important for your soil categorisation assessment to be performed accurately and quickly to transport the excess soil to the correct location and begin developments on the site.

The soil classification will determine the soil’s level of contamination and whether it needs to be remediated before being disposed to a landfill. Our talented team follow strict EPA Industrial Waste Resource Guidelines to ensure that all hazardous waste is handled safely and correctly, protecting people and the environment from the risks of contaminated soil.

What is a soil contamination assessment?

As part of an environmental site assessment, expert environmental auditors will actively test for the presence of contaminants. Testing soil, particularly on sites where the industrial activity occurred, will often reveal some level of contamination beyond what would occur naturally due to current or historical industrial activities on a site. Discovering contaminants on a site does not necessarily mean that remediation is required, but it does let the developer know if the soil is hazardous or fit for the site’s intended purpose.

By assessing soil samples and conducting a site inspection, a qualified environmental auditor performs a statutory environmental audit. The outcome of this audit will determine the level of contamination, depth of contamination and history or nature of contamination for management of the soil. This could include in situ or ex situ remediation or offsite disposal.

An introduction to the different categories

After a soil categorisation assessment is completed using soil sampling, any contaminated soils will be categorised as Category A, B, C, or D, soil containing asbestos only or fill material. In doing so, the soil may be deemed reportable priority waste, which is the highest risk and carries the highest controls. All category A, B, C, and D soils and soil containing asbestos are considered reportable priority waste, and there are different levies and requirements surrounding their disposal.

Category A waste is a reportable priority waste that is banned from landfills in Victoria. The hazardous properties of this soil require treatment and remediation before disposal. If your soil categorisation assessment determines your industrial waste to be Category A, the soil is not subject to a waste levy at landfills as it is not accepted.

Excess soil will be determined to be Category C or Category B soil if the contaminant concentration threshold is less than Category A, but still has unsafe levels of chemicals, metals and contamination. Disposal of this soil will be subject to levies. To remove this reportable priority waste to landfills, the Environmental Protection Agency must be notified of

  • Consignment for transport of waste
  • Transport of waste
  • Receipt of reportable priority waste at premises.

Category D waste is the newest priority waste category applying only to soils and is the least hazardous of the contaminated soil categories. Category D soil can be contained or reused onsite for certain uses, treated to lower its contaminants so it can be classed as fill material or sent to a landfill that is authorised to accept Category B, C or D soils.

Soil containing asbestos only is also considered reportable priority waste, but the main contaminant is asbestos and it doesn’t have any contaminant concentrations greater than the upper limit for fill material in Table 3 of the Waste Disposal Categories – Characteristics and Thresholds.

Industrial waste classed as fill material is soil that is without contaminant concentrations that classify it as a priority waste and no asbestos. The contamination levels do not exceed the minimum Category D thresholds and the soil is safe for direct application to land. This soil classification can be disposed of offsite outside of a licensed landfill or reused on a different site.

Next steps?

Classifying and categorising the level of soil contamination allows experienced environmental auditors to determine a clear path for site remediation or management. Remediation and next steps depend on many factors including the categorisation of the contamination and posed an environmental risk. This could include on-site treatment of the soil to remove the contaminant or off-site treatment of excavated soil which could result in the treated material returning to the site or being removed to an appropriate disposal site.

Looking for a soil assessment for your business?

Noticing issues with your landscape’s topsoil or preparing for a site excavation? If your business is concerned about the soil quality on your site, contact Alpha Environmental for a soil assessment. Our dedicated team delivers cost and time-effective solutions with an upfront and personal approach for Melbourne businesses in need of environmental site assessments, soil remediation and environmental management plans.

To learn more about our soil services and environmental site assessments, get in touch with us today by calling 1300 039 181 or by filling out our online contact form.