What can a preliminary site investigation do?
- Determine if soils are clean and you can export the soils.
- If they come back over any criteria, we can go back and individually grab samples to determine if there is only one hot spot, prior to digging and mixing it all together.
- We can run analysis for certified clean, permeability, compaction classifications as well.
- ROCK AND WATER. By doing the investigation, you will know if ground water or bedrock is evident prior.
- Last year we did an investigation for a pool company. After finding out bedrock was evident, it allowed the contractor to apply to the town for a change in pool elevation. The contractor stated they usually dig the fiberglass pools the morning of installation. By knowing this ahead of time, it saved them cost of remobilization of their equipment and the pool and crane itself. It also allowed them to do another pool the next day as they waited for approvals.
Certified Clean Analysis
IT IS NOW THE LAW! Are you planning a construction or landscaping project involving the removal of soil? Guard your backyard!
- The property owner is responsible for their own soil, as NJDEP defines it, cradle to grave. Most towns will require soil moving permits for soil removal on your property, and the recipient will also need them. In most cases, the recipient will require Certified Clean Fill documentation.
How contractors and homeowners get sued
- Property owner is responsible for their soil from cradle to grave. This means if the dump site is checked during or after construction, the home, business or facility can sue the originator or owner of the property from where it came. Surely, the contractors, GC, Excavator, Trucker, and anyone else involved will most likely be responsible as well.
- As a contractor, they will rely on you, at whatever level to make sure the project is completed professionally. You cannot say “I didn’t know, they told me it was clean”.
- But its virgin soil! This would be from an area of a property that was never developed and most likely is forested. Know one knows if anything was ever dumped, liquids etc.
We sampled soil that came out of a yard where it was all trees. It ended up they burned wood all the time in outside fire pit. Some of the wood was old fence made out of pressure treated lumber. The ashes went into the woods, now the soils were impacted.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s, it was not uncommon for vacuum waste companies to drive down a dirt road and let the valve open. What seems as virgin property, really is not.
- So, you really had virgin, clean soil. Truck broker takes your soil, dumps at a site where its comingled with other loads. It is discovered now that the site has contaminated soil (could be years down the road), You are brought up in a lawsuit for dumping there. Without having prior sampling completed you cannot prove that the soil you exported was clean, you are now part of an environmental cleanup.
- I only sent 50 yards there, they brought in over 1,000 yards — best case, you are only responsible for say 5%. Worst case, others did sampling and can prove their soil was clean. Now you could be in for 50% or more. Worse, they can say your 5% impacted the other 95%.
- Attorney fees.
- Others that hired you hear about it and decide to test their properties where you worked.
- Environmental consultant.
- Owners attorney’s fees and other innocent contractors that had certified clean fill documentation, their attorney’s fees.
- Removal and disposal fees.
- Import of certified clean fill.
- Restoration of the site, let’s hope there was not a $200,000.00 outdoor kitchen etc. over the fill.
- Family members get sick.
- Employees stating you put them in a dangerous situation.
Cost of a Cleanup
Recently, we were hired to sample a backyard where a swimming pool was removed and filled in. After completion, the owner did some research and felt he should do some due diligence before it got too late (health and safety of course). After doing soil samples, the initial results were for extreme concentrations over the ground water impact and residential direct contact for a known carcinogen. This soil came from a property where a house was raised and the compound was consistent with banned chemicals used prior to 1988. Over 30 years later, the impacts were severe.
From a conversation with an environmental attorney who asked my thoughts
In 2014 a homeowner in NJ hired a landscaper to excavate a hillside in their back yard and build a retaining wall. The landscaper hired a trucking broker who had “a home for the dirt” and charged a rate of $950.00 for the day for the truck and $125.00 per load to dump the soil. The trucker brought the dirt to a construction site where they were filling in low areas for a building. In total, it was reported that soil came from about 5 sites totaling 2,000 cubic yards.
Later on, the soil was tested and was over the limits for 12 compounds and was heavily impacted by lead. NJDEP required all the soil to be removed and disposed of. The cleanup, with sampling afterwards, oversight, fines……………. Was over $400,000.00 dollars. 3 of the sites had the soil tested prior showing that their soil was certified clean. The other two, including their client did not have theirs tested. In the end, the two properties that could not prove their soils were clean and could not have been the source, were forced to pay the majority of the cleanup and legal fees. One of the homeowners lost their home.