Any time you dig, you never know what you’re going to find. While two plots of land may have soil that looks identical, one may be harboring a secret that only testing will discover. And for some, those unfortunate results may come at an inopportune time.
Discovering that you have unearthed soil contamination can stop a project in its tracks. Sometimes companies don’t even discover they have contaminated soil until it is delivered to a dumpsite, which tests the soil for contaminants and then delivers either good or bad news.
If the news is bad, you now must arrange for that contaminated soil to be transported from the landfill to the appropriate facility that will accept it since many landfills won’t take hazardous waste.
Finding a site that will accept contaminated soil is easier said than done, however. While many sites accept soil, most have restrictions on accepting contaminated soil. Even those that accept contaminated soil may only accept particular types of contaminates.
Simply typing “contaminated soil disposal near me” into your Google search engine won’t yield many options, and it may feel a bit like a needle in a haystack when searching for a landfill that will accept your type of contaminated soil. Here’s why working with a hazardous waste disposal company is key to solving this problem.
First, let’s take a look at what situations may warrant the need for contaminated soil disposal.
Do You Need Contaminated Soil Disposal Services?
Contaminants can come from a variety of sources. In fact, arsenic and radon are naturally-occurring materials, yet will send up red flags at most landfill sites.
The key to whether soil is legally considered contaminated or not often comes down to the amount of substances found within the dirt. If the amount is within the naturally occurring range for that area, then tests will not come back positive for hazardous waste, even though arsenic is present.
When measured amounts rise above normal levels, it is usually due to human influence. According to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), common categories of soil contaminants include:
- Inorganics, such as lead, chromium, arsenic, mercury, leaded gasoline, lead-based paint and other materials from manufacturing processes
- Semi-volatile organics, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins/furans, pesticides, capacitors, transformers and other materials from agricultural processes
- Volatile organic compounds, such as solvents, benzene, degreasing agents and substances used at dry cleaners or in the chemical and plastics manufacturing industry
- Fuels, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuels, waste oils or fuels from underground storage tanks and refineries
Land can become contaminated in any number of ways, from manufacturing runoff to storage tank leaks, spill accidents and improper runoff processes.
Landfills will not accept contaminated soil unless testing shows that the contaminants fall below the maximum allowed levels. These levels will vary based on the substance and the landfill itself. For example, at the Miramar landfill in San Diego, the maximum concentration allowed for gasoline and lighter chain hydrocarbons is 100 mg/kg TPH. However, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) must be undetectable.
Again, while one landfill may accept particular types of contaminants, another may accept different contaminants. Even if you do the legwork and find a landfill that accepts contaminated soil, the landfill may not accept the type of contaminant your soil has in it.
As a business owner or project manager, this can be a timely and frustrating process, especially if your soil’s contamination was a complete surprise. Professional soil disposal services can help.
What Do Contaminated Soil Disposal Services Do?
The best-certified disposal companies will track down a landfill that will accept your specific contaminate, even if that means the disposal service must transport your soil out of state in order to dispose of it properly.
According to the DTSC, it’s common for soil to be transferred out of state for proper disposal. In 2016, disposal companies transported just over 40% of contaminated soils out of state. If you task yourself with locating a landfill that will take your type of contaminated soil, you may find yourself looking beyond state lines.
An experienced hazardous waste disposal company has developed connections with landfills throughout the region and across the country, ensuring that your soil disposal goes smoothly.
The best waste disposal companies also offer a walk-through program and hazardous waste determination through sampling and profiling. A licensed contaminated waste removal company can help you identify unknown waste streams as well as test and classify soil as non-hazardous if that’s the case, so you do not pay for hazardous waste removal if you don’t have to.
The best companies will also work with you to develop a customized soil transportation plan, complete regulatory paperwork and provide you with proof of proper disposal for your records.
4 Tips To Finding A Soil Disposal Company
Surprises aren’t always a good thing, especially when you must act fast to solve a serious issue. Working with a reputable hazardous waste disposal company can help alleviate any headaches now and in the future.
When searching for a partner to help you dispose of your contaminated soil safely and legally, here are four tips to ensure you find the right company:
- Only work with certified companies. The company you work with should have a valid hazardous waste transporter registration with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
- Avoid hazardous waste brokers. These are unqualified “middlemen” who drive up your costs and create roadblocks by putting themselves in between you and certified hazardous waste disposal companies under the disguise of helping you. They often show up in Google paid ads, leading you to believe they are professionals. Instead, they will add on as much as 400% of the disposal cost an actual disposal company would charge.
- Instead, work with transporters directly. A transporter may also be called a hazardous waste disposal service.
- Experience is important. While experience in soil contamination is important, so is experience in other areas of waste removal, including non-hazardous waste and industrial waste, especially if you generate multiple waste streams.
Searching for a contaminated soil disposal service near you can feel daunting, especially when you’re under pressure to act fast. Working with an experienced contaminated soil disposal company will offer you peace of mind that you are protecting the environment, your community and your business.