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Understanding BC’s New Soil Relocation Process

August 9, 2023

Planning to move soil for an upcoming project? You may be impacted by recent changes to BC’s soil relocation process.

The province has officially moved away from ‘soil relocation agreements’, introducing new amendments to the Contaminated Sites Regulation which came into effect on March 1, 2023. A few of the major changes are explored below.

SOIL TESTING

Soil testing must now be conducted whenever 30 or more cubic meters of soil is relocated from a site where “commercial or industrial uses” have occurred. This testing will determine whether the soil is contaminated or uncontaminated, and depending on the soil quality, a different relocation process may apply.    

CONTAMINATED SOIL

The relocation of contaminated soil is now regulated by the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Waste Discharge Regulations. Anyone planning to relocate contaminated soil must apply for waste discharge authorization under Part 2 of the EMA.  

UNCONTAMINATED SOIL

One of the most significant changes, is the new notification requirements for relocating uncontaminated soil. Under the new process, anyone planning to relocate uncontaminated soil must complete and submit a Soil Relocation Notification Form (SRNF) to the Ministry of Environment (MOE) at least one week prior to soil relocation.

There are some exemptions to the SRNF requirements and certain types of soil are exempt. Some examples include:

  • soils that are less than 30 cubic meters in volume which are not deemed as high-risk;
  • soils originating from sites with no commercial or industrial use; and
  • soils being moved to receiving sites outside of the province or other authorized sites.

HIGH-VOLUME RECEIVING SITES

The recent amendments also introduced new requirements for receiving sites. Beginning March 1, 2023, any receiving site which accepts more than 20,000 cubic meters of soil over its lifetime is classified as a high-volume site. High-volume sites must be registered with the MOE and site owners are required to develop a “Soil Management Plan”.

PENALTIES

The changes also include some stiff penalties for non-compliance including fines of up to $200,000, imprisonment up to 6 months, or both.  These penalties are indicative of the MOE’s intention to increase enforcement of the rules.

If you have any questions or comments about the new soil relocation process, whether it impacts your upcoming project, or how you can ensure your compliance, contact Nicola Virk ([email protected]).

This article was co-authored by Nicola Virk and summer student, Haiger Ye.

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Important Notice: The information contained in this Article is intended for general information purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It is not intended as legal advice from Harper Grey LLP or the individual author(s), nor intended as a substitute for legal advice on any specific subject matter. Detailed legal counsel should be sought prior to undertaking any legal matter. The information contained in this Article is current to the last update and may change. Last Update: August 9, 2023.

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