Important New Requirements

Posted: February 28, 2023


On March 1, 2023 the “Stage 14” amendments1 to the BC Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) come into force and bring significant new requirements for the movement of non-contaminated soil in BC. This notice summarizes the key changes and identifies the likely impacts to industry in BC.

When do these requirements apply?

The new requirements summarized below apply to the relocation of soil in BC, when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The receiver site is located in BC, including First Nations reserve lands but excluding Federal lands.
  • At least one commercial / industrial CSR Schedule 2 Activity currently occurs or historically occurred anywhere at the source site. Assessment by a Qualified Professional (QP) is required to determine the presence/absence of such activities.2
  • The soil is determined to be “non-waste” (not contaminated) when considering the standards that apply at the proposed receiver site.
  • The volume to be relocated is 30 m3 or more per project within a 2-year period.3

These requirements apply regardless of the proximity of the excavation area to the Schedule 2 Activity, and regardless of whether remediation has been completed or ENV4 regulatory approvals (Certificates of Compliance, etc.) have been obtained.

The new requirements do not apply in the following cases:

  • Disposing of contaminated soil to a receiving facility authorized under the Environmental Management Act (EMA).
  • Relocating preload material that were temporarily used at a site with current or historical Schedule 2 Activities, but is verified to have originated from a site with no such activities.
  • Relocating quarried materials directly from the source quarry under a Mines Act permit.
  • Relocating winter maintenance sand.

New Soil Testing Requirements

Prior to relocation, a sampling and analysis plan must be completed by a QP and the soil must be tested in accordance with ENV Protocol 19 (link). The minimum required testing frequencies5 are:

In-Situ Soil
≤600m3 3 samples
≤600m3 – 10,000m3 1 sample per 200m3
10,000m3 – 40,000m3 1 sample per 450m3
>40,000m3 1 sample per 2,000m3
Stockpiled Soil
≤130m3 3 samples
130m3 – 2,600m3 1 sample per 130m3
>2,600m3 1 sample per 200m3

Examples based on these frequencies:

  • 100 m3 in-situ soil: 3 samples
  • 5,000 m3 in-situ soil: 25 samples
  • 50,000 m3 of in-situ soil: 122 samples
  • 100 m3 stockpiled soil: 3 samples
  • 5,000 m3 stockpiled soil: 34 samples
  • 50,000 m3 stockpiled soil: 259 samples

For in-situ soil testing, the lateral and vertical requirements are as follows:

Lateral Assessment Requirements Vertical Assessment Requirements
Maximum 25 to 50 m grid spacing between sampling locations Must target depths with the potential for maximum concentrations of the Potential Contaminants of Concern (PCOCs)
Reduced spacing within 50 m of Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs) or within 10 m from known contamination At minimum:

  • Surface soil samples (maximum 0.5 m depth)
  • Samples immediately above fine-grained soil
  • Samples from the water table elevation
  • Every 1 to 2 m depth for homogeneous soil units

All soil samples must be analyzed for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, and any other relevant PCOCs.

The representative pH of soil at the receiver site must also be established, in order to determine the applicable numerical soil standards.

New Soil Vapour Testing Requirements

Prior to relocation, soil vapour testing is also required when either of the following apply:

  • The soil contains detectible volatile chlorinated solvents (e.g., solvents); or,
  • The soil contains any volatile substance exceeding the Residential Low-Density standards.

In-situ soil vapour sampling must follow the lateral spacing requirements indicated above, must target locations nearest the source zone and must be collected at a depth of 1 m or greater below grade. Ex-situ sampling is acceptable if required. The testing frequencies are summarized below:

In-Situ Soil
≤600m3 2 samples
>600m3 1 sample per 2,500m3
Stockpiled Soil
≤250m3 3 samples
250m3 – 2,500m3 1 sample per 250m3
>2,500m3 1 sample per 500m3

New Quarried Material Testing Requirements

Relocation of material derived from mining and crushing bedrock requires in-situ testing to assess potential metals leaching and acid rock drainage (ML/ARD), unless the relocation is exempt as discussed above. Testing is required when more than 1,000 m3 of material will be relocated (or 100m3 if relocated adjacent to sensitive habitat). Requires at least one sample per 2,000 m3. Further details are provided in Protocol 19 (link).

New Public Notification Requirements

A Soil Relocation Notification Form must be completed and submitted online by a Qualified Professional, at least one week prior to soil relocation. The notification database is publicly accessible. The form is available here and detailed instructions for completing the form are available here. Please note:

  • A form cannot be changed once submitted. However, a QP can submit a new form with the updated information (the new form will link to the original form).
  • The form may specify up to 3 receiver sites. The maximum volume being relocated to each receiver must be indicated. If the receiving sites or maximum volumes change, a new form must be submitted and the one-week period resets. If the relocation start date or end date changes, a new form must be submitted and the one-week period resets.
  • Concerns raised during the notification period will not prevent the lawful relocation of soil.

Clean Fill Receiver Sites – Key Changes

Clean fill receiver sites that will, over their operating lifetime, accept more than 20,000 m3 of Commercial/Industrial Quality soil from sites with Schedule 2 Activities must register as High-Volume Receiving Sites (HVRS)6,7. The following additional requirements are imposed for HVRS:

  • Soil Management & Closure Plan – Prepared and implemented by a QP, and approved by an Approved Professional (AP).
  • Seasonal Groundwater Monitoring – To monitor for off-site contaminant migration.
  • Appropriate Containment – To mitigate the risk of impacts to the environment.
  • Registration & Record Keeping – Including source site details, deposit location, etc.

Cost and Schedule Implications

Parties involved in soil relocation should be prepared for the following cost and schedule impacts:

  • For all soil source sites:
    • Costs and potential delays for a Qualified Professional to evaluate the presence of current and/or historical Schedule 2 Activities prior to soil relocation.
  • For soil source sites with current and/or historical Schedule 2 Activities:
    • Increased soil and/or vapour testing costs and schedule prior to soil relocation.
    • One week notification period prior to soil relocation
  • For soil receiver sites:
    • Costs and potential delays for additional reviews of source site documentation.
    • For HVRS, costs to develop and implement a Soil Management Plan, groundwater monitoring, increased record keeping, closure plan, etc.
  • Potential non-compliance penalties include fines up to $200,000 and/or 6 months in prison.

We’re  Here To Help

Active Earth in an industry leader in soil characterization and disposal planning, contaminated sites assessment, environmental permitting, and remediation management. We are experts in assessing soil quality for relocation to clean fill receiver sites, for disposal to permitted contaminated soil landfills, and for disposal at sea through the federal approval process.

We posses strong relationships with various excavation and construction contractors in BC, as well as with many clean fill receiver site operators and contaminated soil landfill operators. We look forward to navigating you through these requirements quickly and cost-effectively.

1 The regulatory changes are detailed in Ministerial Order 164/2022 (link)
2 The list of CSR Schedule 2 Activities is available here.
3 For sites classified as high risk in accordance with a Directors Protocol, there is no minimum volume threshold.
4 BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
5 These testing frequencies are cumulative and do not include duplicate samples which may be required for QA/QC purposes. For example: 5,000 m3 of in-situ soil requires 3 samples for the first 600 m3, plus 1 sample per 200 m3 for the remaining 4,400 m3, for a total of 25 samples plus potential duplicate QA/QC samples.
6 Volume as measured over the lifetime of the fill receiver site, excluding soil relocated prior to March 2, 2023.
7 Infrastructure projects are exempt from HVRS designation under certain circumstances including highways, transit systems, pipelines, dikes / green shores, sewage/water/drainage systems, electrical transmission/distribution systems, telecom lines or towers, etc.