Managing Excess Soils at Aggregates and Quarries in Ontario

Posted by on May 18, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Funded, but not endorsed by the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP), was a recent report “Best Management Practices for Aggregate Pit and Quarry Rehabilitation in Ontario.” The document was developed in March 2021 by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.

BMP for Excess Soils

The purpose of the document is stated as “The BMPs are intended to assist Qualified Persons (QPs), municipalities, aggregate licensees, and operators in evaluating options for using excess soils to rehabilitate pits and quarries in a safe, economically viable, and climate positive manner.”

According to the Daily Commerce News, “’This project is important because in Ontario we know that we are producing around 25 million cubic metres of soil every year,’ said Dr. Madeh Piryonesi, one of the authors of the report, Best Management Practices for Aggregate Pit and Quarry Rehabilitation in Ontario, presented in a recent webinar.”

Daily Commerce News goes on to report, “This excess soil used to sometimes go to waste or be dumped in landfills. Starting in 2025 that won’t be allowed anymore and contractors and project leaders they must think of ways of beneficially reusing the volumes of excess soil. Pits and quarries are a very good destination for soil to be reused. We have over 5,000 pits and quarries in Ontario that are active at the moment.”

Excess Soils: O. Reg 406/19

With the changes by MECP, with respect to handling excess soils (including the 2025 prohibition on landfilling excess soils), contractors will be looking for new places to safely, cost-effectively, and legally move excess soils.

With respect to how this BMP document relates to 406/19 (Excess Soil), the authors state, “This document is developed based on the requirements and the assumptions described in O. Reg. 406/19, its accompanying rules, and Rationale Documents for excess soil (MECP 2020) with emphasis on pits and quarries as reuse sites. The best practices gathered in this document are specifically developed for a pit or quarry setting and are intended to complement the regulation and associated rules. Furthermore, these best practices are intended to provide additional guidance on concerns not specifically addressed by O. Reg. 406/19 that may be commonly encountered in a pit and quarry setting.”

If you are not familiar with O.Reg.406/19, you can view this ~15-minute webinar that we recorded in March 2020.

Layer-Cake Approach

The authors state, “The BMPs recommend consideration of a “layer-cake” approach to site rehabilitation, which may allow for placement of soil meeting one or more generic volume independent soil quality standards under certain circumstances. It is recommended that the selection of the generic standards be conducted by QPs (Qualified Persons) who are aware of the underlying assumptions and limitations of the generic model.”

Again from the Daily Commerce News, “At the end what we came up with is this flow chart that is very convenient to use,” Piryonesi explained. “This flow chart is going to be what a practitioner, QP would be using, along with this illustration of this which is what we call the ‘layer-cake’ approach. Essentially, it’s saying we recognize that a pit or quarry can be using a lot of excess soil therefore we are not limiting the QP or operator, the project leader to one table or two tables they could be using multiple tables.”

More Information and Assistance

There are many details in the nearly 50-page document, and if this affects you and your company, you may want to read the details.

In addition to the pre-recorded webinar (above), we have several articles related to managing excess soils in Ontario that are found on our website.

If you have questions or need assistance handling excess soils, feel free to contact me and I can discuss options with you. You can reach me by email or by phone at 519-948-7300, Ext. 114.

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