soil remediation

Pennsylvania Clean Fill Policy

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In 2004, PADEP established the Management of Fill Policy to provide procedures for determining whether material is clean fill or regulated fill.  This Policy is pertinent to those developing “greenfield” sites requiring fill, and brownfield sites where fill is being imported or exported from the site.  “Regulated fill” may not be used unless a Solid Waste Management Act (SWMA) permit is secured by the entity or individual using the regulated fill. 

 How Do I determine if the material in question is Clean Fill?

The Policy provides that environmental due diligence must be performed on the fill materials.  If the due diligence shows no evidence of a release of a regulated substance, the material may be handled as clean fill. If due diligence shows evidence of a release, the material must be tested to determine if it qualifies as clean fill.  The Policy provides the procedures for sampling of material based on either composite or discrete sampling, with the number of samples required based on the volume of material.  If testing reveals that the fill material contains concentrations of regulated substances that are below the residential limits in Table FP-1a and b of the Management of Fill Policy, the material can be managed as clean fill.

 What is Clean Fill?

Uncontaminated, non water-soluble, nondecomposable inert solid material. The term includes soil, rock, stone, dredged material, used asphalt (except milled asphalt), and brick, block or concrete from construction and demolition activities that is separate from other waste and recognizable as such. The term does not include materials placed in or on the waters of the Commonwealth unless otherwise authorized.

  How do I manage Clean Fill?

Clean fill may be used in an unrestricted manner under the SWMA.  The person using materials as clean fill is still subject to other requirements such as Erosion and Sediment Control (PA Title 25 Chapter 102) and Dam Safety and Water Management (PA Title 25 Chapter 105).  Any person placing clean fill which has been affected by a release of a regulated substance must certify the origin of the fill material and the results of analytical testing on Form FP-001.

 What is Regulated Fill?

Soil, rock, stone, dredged material, used asphalt, historic fill, and brick, block or concrete from construction and demolition activities that is separate from other waste and recognizable as such that has been affected by a spill or release of a regulated substance and the concentrations of regulated substances exceed the values in Tables FP-1a and b of the Policy.

 How do I manage Regulated Fill?

Materials identified as regulated fill are a waste and must be managed in accordance with residual waste regulations.  Regulated fill may be used beneficially under General Permit WMGR096 if the material and the proposed activities for the fill meet the conditions of that permit.

Regulated fill may not be placed on greenfield property that is not planned for development, or on a property currently in residential use or planned for residential use unless otherwise authorized by PADEP.  Fill containing concentrations of regulated substances that exceed the levels in Tables GP-1a and b of the General Permit may not be managed under the Management of Fill Policy or the General Permit, but must be managed instead in accordance with the applicable municipal or residual waste regulations.

A general permit is not required for activities undertaken entirely on an Act 2 site, or if regulated fill is taken from one Act 2 site to another Act 2 site, as long as the procedural requirements of Act 2 are met (including documentation in the Act 2 reports for both sites).  Placement of the regulated fill may not cause the receiving site to exceed the Act 2 standards selected for that site.

If you have questions about management of fill issues in Pennsylvania, please contact Mary King ( with the Pittsburgh office at 800-365-2324.

Useful Pennsylvania Management of Fill Links:

Cleanup of Chlorides in Soils at Natural Gas Well Sites

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As described in our previous posting, CEC recently learned that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) will soon be issuing draft guidance that standardizes the regulatory requirements for reporting, remediating, and restoring areas impacted by spills or releases from oil and gas (O&G) well operations. That guidance specifies that the remediation of specific types of releases will be referred to the Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields (BECB) for oversight of remedial activities which will be performed in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Land Recycling Program, commonly known as Act 2. Among the other provisions of Act 2, it requires that a site be remediated using one of three standards available in Act 2: Background Standard; Statewide Health Standard; or Site-Specific Standard. One parameter that must often be addressed after releases at natural gas well sites is chloride. Act 2 does not have a Media Specific Concentration (MSC) established for chlorides in soils for use in achieving the Statewide Health Standard, which could preclude the use of that cleanup standard. The lack of an established regulatory standard for chlorides in soil to guide remedial activities is also a potential concern in surrounding states.
The term “chloride” does not refer to any specific compound but is a category of substances that are either present in the deep groundwater encountered during well drilling to reach the Marcellus Shale, or are added to drilling muds or hydrofracturing fluids to facilitate development of a gas well.  The most common chlorides of interest include sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, ammonium chloride, potassium chloride, and barium chloride. Act 2 established a MSC of 250 mg/l for chlorides in groundwater based on the Secondary Maximum Concentration Level (SMCL) promulgated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, as stated earlier in this blog, Pennsylvania does not have a MSC for chlorides in soil. Both PADEP and industry personnel have requested guidance on how to address chlorides in soils.  As a result, PADEP is considering proposing the use of a Site-Specific Standard for chlorides in soil that would address both the potential soil-to-groundwater pathway and the ecological pathway that could impact species and habitats of concern.
The soil-to-groundwater pathway could be evaluated by submitting samples of impacted soil to a laboratory for analysis using the Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP).  Soils with a SPLP-leachable chloride concentration less than the groundwater MSC of 250 mg/l would be considered as having achieved attainment with the soil-to-groundwater MSC.  Additionally, potential surface water impacts to seeps/springs and stormwater runoff would be evaluated using the water quality standard (WQS) of 250 mg/l.  The potential for using soil to groundwater leachability calculations to derive cleanup standards for chlorides and other soluble constituents such as sulfate and bromide may also be considered since methods for performing these calculations have already been established under Act 2.
Under the existing Act 2 process, an evaluation of the ecological risk must be performed to address potential species and habitats of concern, but the evaluation does not have to consider impacts to common plant species.  PADEP is considering implementing additional requirements in an attempt to prevent the development of a Site-Specific Standard that would be considered to be protective of the species and habitats of concern specified in the Act 2 regulations while allowing residual chloride concentrations to remain in the soil that would negatively impact vegetation on the property.  These additional requirements would include an assessment of the chloride tolerance of the vegetation present at a site to develop a Site-Specific Standard.  This site-specific vegetation chloride tolerance approach could result in a large variation of chloride cleanup criteria from site to site.  For example, some agricultural crops can tolerate total chloride concentrations in soils of up to 1,500 mg/kg while more sensitive species cannot tolerate total chloride concentrations in soils at concentrations in the range of 500 to 800 mg/kg.  Proper selection and application of soil amendments can reduce the amount of chlorides and other ions (particularly sodium) in the soil that are potentially deleterious to plants, thereby reducing the potential toxicity due to residual chloride concentrations.
If you have questions on how the spill and release guidance might apply to your operations, please contact Bo Valli, P.G., ( or Tom Maher, P.G., ( at 800-365-2324.