“FREE FILL DIRT” or is it? A Perspective on Clean Fill Testing

We’ve all been driving in our car and have seen the signs on the side of the road; “FREE FILL DIRT”. For a long time this was the case.Moving earth from one property to another was often as simple as loading in into truck, moving it to another site that required import soil, and dumping it. This, however is no longer the norm. With regulatory agencies keeping a closer eye on this process and property owners becoming more and more concerned about their liabilities, clean fill assessments and testing have become the standard.So what does that mean for you? Well, it depends on whether you are a property owner that is looking to export the soil, an owner looking to import the soil, a construction manager, or an earthworks contractor. Each of these parties will be affected differently by the clean fill assessment and testing process. Clean fill certification is not about magic, it is about liability. When materials are excavated and removed from a site, anything in the fill is leaving with them. That includes any contamination in them, and it will travel with the fill material to be deposited on another site. If you are the owner of the fill and are looking to export it to another site, having it certified as clean is often the only way to move forward. Depending on the regulatory agency responsible for oversight in your particular area, this may mean a clean fill assessment and/or sampling of the soils will need to be performed. As the owner you should hire a reputable consultant to provide advice on how to evaluate the fill. In some instances this may be able to be accomplished through a Clean Fill Assessment with no sampling or laboratory testing required which can save significant dollars.


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