How does contaminated soil removal work?
Contaminated soil can be found across Australia and comes in a number of variations. From old warehouse rubbish buried 70 years ago to chemicals leaching into the soil and buried asbestos, contaminated soil does not have one singular method of removal. There are many businesses across the eastern seaboard that specialise in contaminated soil removal and that is because there are certain rules and regulations that standard operators wouldn’t know about.
In order to be across the local, state and federal rules and regulations for contaminated soil disposal you need both training, experience and a network in the industry. Contaminated soil can be expensive to remove so knowing what type it is, how it can be treated and where you can take it is key to keeping your costs as low as possible.
How do you know you have contaminated soil?
The question of whether or not you have contaminated soil on your construction site can not always be an easy question to answer. When you are working on a site where there has been previous construction or demolition it is wise to have the soil tested for contaminants. This is especially important in metropolitan areas where there has been a long history of construction.
However, there are instances where it is obvious that the soil is contaminated. If you are excavating and start to come across old warehouse materials, roofing, or other materials you need to stop and have the site tested by a qualified soil tester. The potential chemicals and pollutants in the materials could cause harm to workers and the neighbouring area so should not be dealt with lightly.
Adding to this if you are working in an area that is near a military base, airport or manufacturing hub you should have the soil tested before any construction or excavation occurs. These areas have been proven to be hotspots for contaminated soils due to the chemicals used over the years before their negative impacts were discovered.
How does the removal of contaminated soil work?
While the removal of contaminated soils does vary depending on the type of contamination there are recurrent themes in the processes that you will see on all sites.
1. The soil is tested by qualified soil testers
If contamination is found on a construction site the entire area will need to be checked for contamination. This ensures that when it comes time to remove the waste it is all removed at the one time.
2. Trained removalists undertake the removal
Depending on the severity of the contaminated soil you may have an operator already on the construction site licensed or trained to remove the contaminated soil and materials. If not you will need to get in a company that specialises in the removal and processing of contaminated soil. They will often start with planning the removal then bring the equipment and machinery to complete the job.
3. The contaminated soil is processed externally
Whether you’re taking the soil to the transfer station, dump or treatment centre yourself or the removalists are removing it for you, you need to be certain on the type of contaminated waste you are bringing in. Some contaminated waste can be treated and reused, whereas other contaminated waste needs to be securely stockpiled away from other materials to avoid any potential spread.
How long will the removal take?
One of the nail-biting problems with contaminated soil removal is there isn’t any determining how long it will take until excavations are underway. Work could start and it could be a much smaller area of contamination than first thought and it could be a day worth of work. Alternatively, there could be a more extensive excavation needed than first thought as more contamination is found. Be prepared for work to be halted for at least five working days and keep communication up with the soil removal business.
Is excavating contaminated soil safe and why do we need to do it?
When done right excavation of contaminated soil is safe for workers and neighbours. This is why the appropriate training and certifications are needed. Knowing how to identify and remove the varieties of contaminated soil safely can man the difference between keeping those on the construction site and surrounding, or endangering everyone, spreading contamination and landing a massive fine.
Once the soil has tested positive to contamination you need to remove it, but why? There are a number of reasons but the main one is to stop the spread of contamination and potential health risks. Whether the contamination is seeping into the water supply or affecting the quality of the soil, it needs to be removed before any construction can begin. Once it’s removed it can be treated and potentially reused.
Need contaminated soil removal for your construction or excavation project?
At Eastern Plant Hire we have a dedicated contaminated soil service on offer across the east coast of Australia. Our team of EPA licensed operators can get out to your site, remove your contaminated soil and get you back to work in no time at all. We’ve worked with major projects, like the Barangaroo Remediation project and backyard projects. Give the team a call today to get your contaminated soil removal booked in.