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Property Redevelopment News - Soil Management


Property Redevelopment News - EPA Penalties Remind All of Us of the Importance of Careful Soil Management

Recently EPA ordered a real estate developer to pay $227,500 in fines for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) during the redevelopment of a former jewelry manufacturing facility in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.  The fine related to the failure to identify 212 tons of waste as hazardous.  The waste, which apparently consisted of sludge cake and soil, was disposed at a facility that did not have a license or permit to accept hazardous waste. 

This recent fine highlights the importance of careful soil management during redevelopment projects.  Properties with certain past uses (e.g. jewelry manufactures) require special attention with regard to the potential applicability of certain RCRA regulations.  Developers should be aware that, at these types of properties, even very low concentrations of contaminants can result in a soil being classified as a "listed" hazardous waste under RCRA.  Sloppy handling can result in an increase in the total soil volume requiring disposal due to RCRA rules relating to mixing.  Even if you are working on a property that has achieved regulatory closure with EPA and/or a state environmental agency, these RCRA disposal requirements will still apply.  It is important to work with an environmental consultant who will identify early on in the project if any soils on-site could be classified as a RCRA waste.  Given the disposal cost of RCRA waste, this information may cause you to rethink your entire development strategy. 

State regulations may also come into play at a broader range of sites.  For example, in Massachusetts soil from properties that have achieved regulatory closure under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan are still subject to disposal restrictions.  These restrictions are easier to work with than those applicable to RCRA waste but they still require a level of awareness on behalf of the developer and/or their environmental consultant.  Given the common use of risk-based regulatory closure for disposal sites in Massachusetts, it is not uncommon for properties to contain contaminants in soil at significant concentrations even after achieving regulatory closure.  Massachusetts regulations commonly called the "anti-degradation" provisions must be considered when reusing this soil on-site or off-site.

Soil management at the location of a release of oil or hazardous material is complex, regardless of whether or not regulatory closure has been achieved.  Soil management should be considered early on in the site development process.  Norfolk Ram Group staff is always available to provide input regarding your soil management needs.  If you have an immediate concern regarding soil management, please contact your Norfolk project manager or Jon Kitchen at (508) 747-7900 x154     

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