Draft Guidance on Soil Trigger Values for EPA-Licensed Soil Recovery Facilities

The EPA has recently prepared a draft guidance document for consultation on the development of soil trigger values for EPA licensed Soil Recovery facilities.  Licensed Soil Recovery Facilities are typically facilities/sites that import inert soil and stone material for restoration and reinstatement.

The guidance document is intended to apply to soil recovery facilities which exceed the operational thresholds for waste facility permits as set out in the Third Schedule of the Waste Management (Facility Permit and Registration) Regulations 20007 (S.I. No. 821 of 2007). For comparative purposes, the operational threshold for Activity Class No. 5 which is the recovery of excavation of dredge spoil comprising natural materials of clay, silt, sand, gravel or stone is less than 100,000 tonnes, whilst the operational threshold for Activity Class No. 6 which is the recovery of inert waste is less than 50,000 tonnes.

The document provides guidance on the development of soil trigger levels for contaminants that may be present in non-greenfield sources of soil and stone material. The key aspects of the document are set out below, however the full guidance document should be referenced for further detail.

Waste Acceptance Criteria for Soil Recovery Facilities – The document states that only soil and stone from greenfield sites and non-greenfield sites where the risk of contamination from chemical or solid materials is low are acceptable at licensed soil recovery facilities, subject to meeting agreed Waste Acceptance Criteria. For greenfield sources, a letter of suitability signed by a ‘suitably qualified person’ must be provided for each 5,000 tonnes of material received.  There is no requirement for testing greenfield soil and stone unless directed by the EPA.

For non-greenfield sources, basic characterisation, compliance testing and on-site verification need to be undertaken with contaminant concentrations in compliance with soil trigger levels agreed with the EPA.  Soil and stone should not be accepted from sites which have involved the manufacture or storage of hazardous materials e.g. oil storage facilities, petrol filling stations.

Development of Soil Trigger Levels – The document provides a summary of generic soil trigger levels that shall be adopted for licensed soil recovery facilities.  In general, the EPA has derived the soil trigger levels using detection limits reported by environmental testing laboratories.  For metals the EPA has used the 90th percentile concentrations quoted in the National Soils Database. 

Groundwater Monitoring – The licensee will also be required to install groundwater monitoring wells at a minimum of three locations to be used for groundwater sample collection and subsequent testing.

Existing Soil Recovery Facilities – For existing licensed soil recovery facilities, the EPA will require the licensee to demonstrate that the material received to date is compliant with trigger levels developed in accordance with the guidance or that the facility is not causing environmental pollution.

The draft guidance document can be downloaded at: http://www.epa.ie/pubs/consultation/soilrecoveryconsultation/

The closing date for comments is 5pm, 16th March 2018

McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan can provide advice on the potential opportunities and limitations of the available options for material management. McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan has also got specialist in-house geo-environmental staff capable of undertaking waste assessments, environmental due diligence, detailed quantitative risk assessment modelling in relation to sensitive receptors, including human health and controlled waters.

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