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Guidance Document on Contaminated Soil
(Updated April 2011)

Contaminated Soil General Information

New Jersey has a number of regulatory programs designed to prevent the discharge of contaminants into the environment. New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection has developed regulatory programs to prevent, detect and identify prohibited discharges and to limit the volume and concentrations of contaminants which may be discharged pursuant to Department permits. The scope and magnitude of the problems presented by the thousands of contaminated sites in New Jersey set the context within which the Department has adopted new remediation standards. The soil remediation standards can be found at N.J.A.C. 7:26D, Appendix 1, Table 1A and Table 1B.

What is contaminated soil?

Definitions vary state to state but in general contaminated soil containing one or more contaminants from an unintentional or intentional spilling, or a naturally occurring contaminant, qualify soil as a contaminated soil. See the definition of contaminated soil below. Soils are considered hazardous waste when the following criteria are met and must be managed pursuant to the requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:26G et seq.:

a. Soils test positive for characteristics of a hazardous waste defined at Title 40 CFR Part 261 Subpart C 261.21-261.24.

b. Soil contains a listed waste as per 40 CFR 261 Subpart D 261.31-261.33.

c. Soil is a mixture of a solid waste (non-hazardous) and one or more hazardous wastes listed in 40 CFR 261 Subpart D 261.31-261.33.

Sources and Quantities of Contaminated Soil

Sources of contaminated soils include manufacturers, businesses, retail establishments, government and individuals. Anyone who stores or handles materials which could adversely impact the environment, has the potential to generate contaminated soils. Quantities vary greatly based on site-specific situations from a few tons to hundreds of thousands of tons.

Contaminated Soil Definition

The definition for contaminated soil commonly used in contaminated soil management programs is soil that contains one or more contaminants from an unintentional or intentional spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, or dumping of a hazardous substance, hazardous waste, pollutant, or naturally occurring contaminant at a concentration which fails to satisfy any applicable remediation standard.

Environmental and Public Health Hazards

Contaminated soils at a site can present environmental, health and safety hazards if not managed properly. Contaminated soil that is not properly remediated has the potential to significantly migrate from the impacted area through the actions of water, wind, and physical displacement and possibly contaminate surrounding soils, surface water sediments and groundwater. Any traffic traveling over the contaminated soil could generate dust and would be a major migration route of the contaminated soil to the surrounding environment.

The remedial action options for contaminated soils include on-site remediation, off-site management as a hazardous waste and in some instance, recycling hazardous soils treated on-site must obtain all applicable permits. Hazardous soils being moved off-site for management must be properly manifested, transported by a licensed, insured hauler and go to a facility authorized to accept hazardous soils.

Soils are considered to be non-hazardous ID 27 when the following criteria are met:

a. Soils contaminants exceed the NJDEP's soil remediation standards.

b. The soil exceeds the site-specific cleanup criteria.

c. The soil is not considered hazardous as defined in (A) above.

Any proposal to beneficially use or transport non-hazardous ID 27 soils out-of-state requires an approval from the Bureau of Landfill and Hazardous Waste Permitting pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:26-1.1(a)1 and 1.7(g). ID 27 soils contaminated with petroleum compounds may also be transported to an Authorized Class B recycling center. A list of authorized Class B Recycling centers can be obtain from the Department's web site: ID 27 classified soils are legally considered solid waste and the transporter hauling ID 27 soil must be a New Jersey registered solid waste transporter in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:26-1 et seq. Soils destined for recycling or beneficial use are not considered ID 27 waste and thus, do not require registered transporters.

Compliance with Other Laws

Any selected remedial action for soil contamination must be consistent with other applicable or relevant Federal, State or local laws or regulations. If a remedial action does not comply with other applicable laws, the remedy would not be implementable and would not be approved by the Department. Those responsible for conducting the remediation must identify all applicable and relevant laws and regulations and may seek assistance from the Department.

For more information concerning contaminated soils, please check the following web sites:

Technical Requirements for Site Remediation

Department Oversight of the Remediation of Contaminated Sites

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Site Remediation Program

United States Environmental Protection Agency


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Last Updated: January 12, 2018