Avoid Costly Delays – Know your Soil Before you Dig


In this bustling builders economy it’s often necessary to expedite plans in order to keep to a busy timeline, but a common oversight can lead to costly change orders and unexpected delays. Waiting to the last minute to classify soil proposed for excavation and off-haul can be a very expensive mistake if the soil ends up being profiled as hazardous waste. A trained geologist can help identify whether your soil is hazardous or not, and if you’ll need to plan for special transportation as well as proper disposal.

In an effort to protect our precious groundwater supply The State of California and the State of California Water Board created strict rules around soil disposal (CCR Title 27, division 2, and CCR Title 23, division 3). A soil report signed by a California-registered Professional Geologist or Professional Engineer is typically required by waste disposal sites prior to accepting contaminated soil.

In order to characterize soil as waste, representative samples must be collected and analyzed by a state-certified laboratory. The number of samples and sampling methodology vary pending the depth and volume of soil proposed for off-haul. In order to adhere to State and Federal regulations, accepting facilities typically require a wide array of laboratory analysesfor purposes of waste profiling.



Waste Classification, Class I:
Hazardous Waste (per CCR Title 22, Chapter 11), Significant amounts of Hazardous Materials have been found in the soil and pose a water quality threat.

What this means for your project:
Cost for disposal is much higher. There are only two Class I Waste Disposal Sites in California so it’s important to plan ahead, notify the disposal site (they fill up) and prepare for appropriate and safe transportation. There are potential scenarios in which soil waste is considered hazardous by the State of California but non-hazardous in accordance with Federal regulations. In some situations it may be more cost-effective to haul hazardous soil out of state by rail.

Waste Classification, Class II:
Contaminants found in the soil but demonstrate a lower risk to ground water quality than Hazardous Waste

What this means for your project:
Cost for disposal is still higher but significantly less than Hazardous Waste. Proper disposal methods still must be followed and landfill
must have a Class II designation.

Waste Classification, Class III:
Soil does not pose a significant threat to ground water quality so normal disposal steps may be taken

What this means for your project:
Ideal situation. While transportation of soil still must be arranged Non-hazardous Waste is accepted at a reasonable cost and there are variety of Class III landfills within the state. Some Class III soils can be reused off-site, however additional sampling is typically recommended in order to fully assess the usability of the soil and to minimize liability to the generator.

Need help troubleshooting your project?

Our Professional Geologist, Ian Sutherland is available to help navigate through your project needs. Please call 510-638-8400 x 110 or email, isutherland@accenv.com

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