Soil Testing
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Soil Testing

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Before starting a construction project, the contractor must classify their waste leaving site.

Soil testing will identify contamination issues and classify waste for disposal. If soil contamination is not identified before starting construction, there can be major repercussions from environmental authorities and even health problems resulting from contact with contaminants. Conducting soil testing can also save you money in the waste disposal process as proper classification will ensure that you don’t pay more than you need to when you send soil waste to landfill.

Our sampling will involve testing the soil for inorganic heavy metal contaminants (e.g. lead, cadmium, mercury etc.) and organic chemicals such as TPHs, found in crude oil, and PAHs, released from burning fossil fuels. Heavy metals at high concentrations can be highly damaging to the environment and human health, particularly metals like lead, and organic chemicals remain present in the environment for so long that they will continue to be an issue if they are not identified and taken care of. The pH of the soil is also measured. We are also able to test for the presence of asbestos and the percentage of asbestos in the soil (known as quantification testing) this is important as anything over 0.1% is deemed hazardous.

As standard it will take 7 days to get your results, however we are also able to turnaround your results in a shorter period if required. For soil waste disposal we can also conduct a WAC test for you, but please note that a standard testing must be carried out before a WAC test, this is because a WAC test alone does not provide the receiving facility with enough information to determine best course of action for the material.

We can arrange for one of our samplers to attend site, on the same or next day, to take the samples and send these to the lab for the analysis.

Once we have the results back from the lab we will analyse these in house to look for the best possible solution for the material, we will send a copy to you, and also to the possible receiving sites for final confirmation, and we will then subsequently provide you with a quote for the material


Why do I need to classify soil for disposal?

The Waste Framework Directive (2009/98/EC) defines waste as any substance or object which the holder discards or intends to discard. Waste classification is required so that all parties know how to manage the soils, whether it is disposal, treatment or recycling, this will also allow everyone involved to know what risks are involved in the handling of the waste, and if any specific precautions need to be taken. It should be noted that the duty of care for correct waste classification lies with the waste producer.

How do I classify my waste?

If you believe the site to be contaminated, or there is a possibility of the site being contamionated, waste classification is a two-stage process. The soil will first be tested for organics, inorganics, metals, asbestos and hydrocarbons, the results for this testing will be used to classify the material as either hazardous or non-hazardous waste, following the procedure in Environment Agency Document WM3.

This review will provide us with a List of Waste code (LoW), which will confirm if the material is hazardous or non-hazardous. Common construction project examples are 17-05-03* for hazardous soils and 17-05-04 for non-hazardous soils.

WAC testing will only be needed if the soil is going to be taken to landfill.

What happens next?

Once the waste has been classified one of the following will happen:

  1. Non-Hazardous Soils – This can be taken away as non-hazardous waste to a licenced facility that can take this material. Alternatively, a WAC test can be carried out to see if the material can be taken to an Inert Landfill
  2. If the expectation is that the material will be utilised for Beneficial re-use (Quarry Restoration, Capping, etc), WAC testing should not be required providing the initial classification has taken place.
  3. Hazardous Soils will require hazardous WAC testing prior to disposal. If the soil exceeds hazardous WAC criteria for the landfill it cannot be disposed of without treatment.

Can I not just use a WAC?

EA guidance states that waste cannot be classified with WAC testing. WAC testing only tells the receiving site how the soil will behave when it has been landfilled. A WAC test is only required if the material is being sent to a permitted landfill.