The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has finalized significant changes to the Management of Fill Policy (Document No. 258-2182-773), which took effect on January 1, 2020. The Management of Fill Policy was developed in 2004 to facilitate the unrestricted movement of uncontaminated material, such as soil, asphalt, brick, block, concrete and stone. The new policy will decrease many of the allowable contaminant limits, in some cases by large amounts. It will also synchronize the current and future clean fill standards with the Pennsylvania Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (Act 2).
Use this link to find out more about the PA Land Recycling Program.
This change has major regulatory and cost implications for brownfields redevelopment, real estate transactions, industrial and commercial operations, utilities and transportation projects. Basically, any project requiring excavation or ground disturbance could be impacted, especially in urbanized areas with “historical fill”. Some of the more significant elements to the new policy include:
- Fill material is now a defined term that is limited to rock, stone, gravel, used asphalt, brick, block or concrete from construction and demolition activities that is separate from other waste. The term specifically excludes reclaimed asphalt pavement, naturally occurring asbestos, mine spoils or acid-producing rock.
- The new Policy states that fill material containing polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”) at concentrations in excess of 2 mg/kg may only be used if prior written approval is obtained from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
- The new Policy eliminates the previous numeric standards, which were developed in 2004. It replaces them with the lower of the current Act 2 residential direct contact numeric values for soils and the residential generic soil-to-groundwater numeric values. Consequently, the clean fill standards will automatically be updated when the Act 2 regulations are next amended.
- Management of Historic Fill under the new policy now requires mandatory sampling for a broad list of target parameters.
- Once it’s determined that fill material meets the definition of “clean fill”, a Certification of Clean Fill form must be filed electronically with PADEP (for informational purposes but not approval) before the fill material is transported to the receiving site.
- Currently, there are no stated exceptions to the Clean Fill filing requirement, so it may apply to all projects as small as homeowners regrading their lawn or similar projects. Moreover, if sampling of the fill material is necessary, Form FP-001 must be accompanied by copies of the sampling plan, all laboratory reports, data and documentation of any background determination.
Of particular concern with this new policy, is the lowering of standards for various regulated substances that are ubiquitous urban contaminants. For example, the clean fill standard for benzo(a)pyrene is decreasing from 2.5 mg/kg to 0.58 mg/kg, which is below the background level typically found in many developed areas in Pennsylvania. In addition, the clean fill standard for vanadium is decreasing from 1,500 mg/kg to 15 mg/kg, which is substantially less than typical naturally occurring background levels of vanadium in soils.
Based on our experiences, this change will result in soil from many additional sites exceeding the new clean fill standards. Excavated soil not meeting the new clean fill standard is typically either landfilled, at great expense, or managed as Regulated Fill under PADEP General Permit No. WMGR096.
Brickhouse Environmental is highly experienced with identifying the most environmentally safe and cost-effective strategies for managing excavation and fill materials from development and remediation sites.
Have Questions? Reach out to Brickhouse Environmental’s expert, Al Yates, AYates@brickhouse-environmental.com or call 610-692-5770
Documents: Management of Fill Policy 258-2182-773