Because it will take time to develop regulations announced in December requiring permits for large-scale fill projects including both reclamation of quarries, sand pits and gravel pits, and redevelopment projects, MassDEP plans to issue this month a policy that would allow any such project to proceed under an administrative consent order.  This effort is driven, at least in part, by a requirement in the fiscal year 2015 budget that MassDEP determine by June 30, 2015, what soils should be used as fill material for reclamation of quarries, sand pits and gravel pits. 

Based on a Reclamation Soil Meeting held by MassDEP on December 12, 2014, MassDEP has preliminarily determined that a consent order or permit will be required for any project that will accept more than 100,000 cubic yards of material while MassDEP continues working through the details of the final regulatory approach.  MassDEP also has preliminarily determined that this material, referred to as “reclamation soil,” cannot include hazardous waste, solid waste (except de minimis quantities), construction & demolition debris (except de minimis quantities), PCBs, and volatile organic compounds.  In addition, reclamation soil cannot include soils that qualify for shaping, capping and cover material for landfills.  MassDEP anticipates that reclamation soils will contain some amounts of metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,  semi-volatile organic compounds, and natural occurring materials.  MassDEP expects to create categories of reclamation soils based on the amount of these contaminants that may be present.

MassDEP currently conceptualizes the following components of any application for an approval or permit for a large-scale facility receiving reclamation soils to enable a site-specific evaluation:

  • The category or categories of reclamation soil to be received, which will indicate the level of contaminants that could be in the reclamation soil;
  • Nearby sensitive receptors such as wetlands and groundwater used as drinking water;
  • Surrounding land uses;
  • Any required local permits or approvals;
  • Public notice; and
  • Notice to and sign-off of the host community.

Finally, MassDEP anticipates that any interim approval would require a soil management plan, storm water management plan, oversight of by a licensed site professional or other qualified environmental professional, a contingency plan for nuisance conditions, and stipulated penalties for a failure to comply.

It is not clear how much time it will take to obtain approval from MassDEP under this new program once it is in place.  More importantly, because MassDEP plans to issue the interim policy in January, it has the potential to delay projects that are being planned for early 2015.  In addition, it is interesting that MassDEP is considering requiring local sign-off of the host community, as this could essentially provide “veto power” to local officials outside of any local permitting process that would have to meet public meeting laws and allow for appeal.