As part of the fiscal year 2015 budget, MassDEP has been charged by the legislature to determine what soils should be used as fill material for reclamation of quarries, sand pits and gravel pits by June 30, 2015. The legislature requires that MassDEP, through regulation, standards or procedures, ensure that the reuse of soil pose no significant risk to human health, safety, public welfare, and the environment taking into account transportation, placing of the material, and future use of the reclaimed land. Several communities in Massachusetts have grappled with quarry reclamation issues. Most recently, West Roxbury has been evaluating the appropriate level of local control over the import of soil and/or other fill materials to reclaim a 350-foot deep quarry.
In addition to developing a program for soils for reclaiming quarries and pits, MassDEP also plans to develop a program to address reuse of so-called “Gap Soils.” Large development projects generate enormous quantities of excavated soil that may contain measurable concentrations of oil or hazardous material. Many such projects are located at sites being cleaned up under a state law known as Chapter 21E. Under current policy and law, soils from Chapter 21E sites fall within three categories. The first category is “similar soils,” which are soils that contain oil or hazardous material at levels below reportable concentrations and meet certain additional requirements, which may be reused as other locations under MassDEP’s Similar Soils Policy. The second category is “Remediation Waste,” which are soils that contain oil or hazardous material at levels above applicable reportable concentrations. State regulations provide specific requirements for managing Remediation Waste, which typically involved out-of-state disposal. The final category is soils that are not Similar Soils or Remediation Waste – these are referred to as "Gap Soils."
MassDEP hosted a discussion on October 17, 2014, seeking input on how it should address reuse of soils including for quarries and pits. MassDEP sought input on what the standards should be, procedures to ensure that the soils will meet these standards, what should be required in a MassDEP permit allowing reuse of soils, and whether and under what circumstances local approval would be required. Additional meetings have been scheduled by MassDEP to elicit more comment. Information regarding those meetings and more generally on MassDEP’s efforts to develop this new program is available at reclamationsoil.wordpress.com.