What is Excess Soil?

Excess soil is defined as soil, crushed rock, or soil/crushed rock mixed with rock, that has been excavated as part of a project and removed from the project area.

What Regulations Govern Excess Soil Testing?

Why is Excess Soil Regulated and Testing Necessary?

The Excess Soil Regulation provides guidelines for managing, transporting, and reusing excess soil. They clarify when excess soil can be reused beneficially and when it must be disposed of as waste at approved sites, such as landfills. These regulations ensure that soil deposited at reuse sites is safe for its intended purpose and does not pose risks to human health or the environment.

What are Low-Risk Sites?

Low-risk sites, as defined under the Regulation, refer to project areas on properties that are generally considered to have a lower risk of historic soil contamination. These sites typically include properties that are or were last used for:

  • Agricultural Use, or Other Use
  • Residential Use
  • Parkland Use
  • Institutional Use (such as schools)
  • Properties outside of settled areas, such as rural areas, may also be categorized as low-risk sites.

When is Testing Required?

Regardless of whether projects are exempt from reuse planning requirements, owners or operators of reuse sites may require assurance that the excess soil they receive meets appropriate quality standards and is not considered waste.

Project leaders, even if not mandated by regulations, should consider this need for information early in the planning phase, especially for projects generating large amounts of excess soil. As a best practice due diligence sampling in general accordance with O. Reg. 406/19 is recommended.

What is Not a Low-Risk Site and When are the Excess Soil Reuse Planning Requirements Needed?

A low-risk site does not include:

  • Enhanced Investigation Project Area: A property currently or formerly used for an industrial use, a gas station or other bulk liquid storage site, a garage or for dry cleaning).Unless an RSC was filed, without a risk assessment, and no part of the area was used for enhanced investigation since the RSC filing.

  • Area of Settlement: If any part of the project area is within an area of settlement (cities and towns) the amount of soil to be removed is 2,000 m³ or more. This trigger does not apply if the project area is entirely outside of an area of settlement, even if 2,000 m³ or more of soil will be removed.

  • Remediation: A project that is remediating soil with known contaminants, including soil excavation to enable the filing of a record of site condition (RSC)

Excess Soil Reuse Planning requirements are required for a project area if at least 1 of the above 3 circumstances applies.

What are the Re-Use Planning Requirements?

The reuse planning requirements include:

  • Filing a Notice on the Registry
  • Assessment of Past Uses
    • If necessary, this may also include developing a sampling and analysis plan and preparing a soil characterization report.
  • Excess Soil Destination Assessment Report
  • Developing and Implementing a Tracking System

What are the Minimum Sampling Requirements?

At a minimum, every soil sample required to be taken must be analyzed for all of the following parameters:

  • Petroleum hydrocarbons (F1 through F4), including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes.
  • Metals and hydride-forming metals
  • Sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) and electrical conductivity (EC)
  • Any contaminant of potential concern (COPC) identified during the assessment of past uses.
  • Leachate analysis for specific contaminants

Minimum Sampling Frequency for In-Situ Sampling

  • < 600 m³: Analyze a minimum of 3 soil samples.
  • >600 – 10,000 m³, 1 sample per 200 m³.
  • >10,000 m³ – 40,000 m³, 1 sample for every additional 450 m³.
  • > 40,000 m³+ 1 sample for every additional 2,000 m³.

Call IES today to see how we can help with your next project.

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Chris Croft Technical Specialist


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