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Contaminated Soil Disposal Methods

Contaminated Soil Disposal

Safe contaminated soil disposal methods need to be employed to minimise risks to households and businesses alike. It hurts the environment and human health. It’s essential to identify and dispose of any contaminated soil. 

The reasons for contaminated soil vary from industrial activities to accidental spills. Sometimes, historical land use leads to poor soil health. This is where improper waste disposal methods were initially practised.

For information on Common Soil Contamination Signs, please read our blog here. Although some of the signs are self-evident, many can go unnoticed. It is crucial to find contaminated soil and contain it as soon as possible. Leaving it will lead to more significant decay. 

Removing contaminated soil is more than removing the top layer. Because soil is a rich ecosystem of plants, animals, and minerals, the effects of contamination can extend far beyond what is visible. Hiring trained personnel is a must. 

Removal of all soil is necessary according to national and international standings’ respective laws and regulations. In Australia, referred to as a state or territory EPA.  

the consumer must know the disposal process. If a household or business hires a waste management company, they should know what they are getting. This blog explores how to dispose of contaminated soil. It is important so that households and businesses can make informed hiring decisions.  

What is Soil Contamination?

Soil contamination occurs when there is a high presence of chemicals, minerals, or other substances that naturally should not exist. Examples include paint chippings, oil, microplastics, and excessive human or animal remains. 

It’s important to stress two aspects of this definition:

  1. Soil is usually considered contaminated when unnatural substances are present. Here, unnatural refers to both substances created by humans and natural.  Including substances, like arsenic, which are naturally produced. 
  2. But, there must be a high presence of these substances. Arsenic, again, can exist in low amounts without contamination. Soil is rich in many minerals. The issue comes when it is so high that the natural equilibrium is unstable. 

Our definition highlights that contaminated soil is best defined by professionals. They understand the richness of mineral diversity and are best to judge. 

It is critical to understand the various components to decontaminate the soil. Essentially the end goal of soil decontamination is to return the environment towards its original equilibrium state. 

Dangers of Contaminated Soil

Contaminated soil poses health threats to both humans and the environment. It is essential to consider these dangers whenever dealing with potentially harmful soil.

Firstly, it is essential to consider what caused the soil to become contaminated. Soil contaminated by bio-hazardous waste can seep into the groundwater causing further environmental issues. The dangers here are more than the risk of human contact with the infected soil.

Soil contaminated from historically poor care poses a unique threat. Many large cities lack detailed records of old and abandoned landfills and dumpsites. This soil can still potentially be contaminated. 

It is essential to properly audit ground soil before building any new buildings to ensure this does not happen.

Contaminated soil can also be something of a ticking time bomb. The extent of damage from contamination worsens as the soil is left to decay. Something that was not a major issue can worsen, causing a more tremendous clean-up effort and significant human health risks. 

The Contaminated Soil Disposal Method

Cleanway engages in a 5-step soil disposal process. They are:

  1. Pre-service Inspection: Initial assessment to understand the contamination level and plan the remediation process.
  2. Remediation: Implementing the chosen remediation method based on the type and extent of contamination.
  3. Processing: Treating the contaminated soil using technologies such as Thermal Desorption™, chemical stabilisation, or bioremediation.
  4. Post-service Inspection: Evaluating the treated soil to ensure it meets regulatory and safety standards.
  5. Disposal or Reuse: Finally, the treated soil is either disposed of safely or prepared for reuse, depending on the contamination level and the effectiveness of the remediation process.

Each of these steps is in line with industry standards and best practices. They ensure a safe and effective clean-up and decontamination process. 

5 Types of Contaminated Soil Disposal Services

On top of this, Cleanway offers 5 types of contaminated soil disposal services. This variety ensures that the specific needs of your business or household soil are met.

  • Contaminated Soil Disposal: Safe removal and disposal of soil contaminated with hazardous substances.
  • EPA Compliance: Ensuring all disposal methods meet Environmental Protection Agency standards.
  • Environmental Services: Comprehensive services that cover assessment, remediation, and restoration of contaminated sites.
  • Hazardous Waste Management: Expert handling of hazardous materials to prevent further contamination.
  • Soil Remediation Services: Techniques designed to treat and reclaim contaminated soil.

The required service will depend on the nature of the soil contamination. It will also consider local and regional factors and available prices. 

What Happens with Contaminated Soil?

What happens with contaminated soil depends on the extent of the contamination and the chosen cleaning method. 

Ideally, contaminated soil is effectively cleaned through one of the five standard clean-up methods. What happens with the soil depends on the chosen method. 

Cleaning Method 1: Containment

Containment does what the name suggests: it contains the contaminated soils by separating and restricting their reach. The contained soil taken from the polluted site is safely disposed of. Its level of pollution dictates where it will end up.

Cleaning Method 2: Bioremediation

Bio-remediation seeks to take the polluted soil and remove the contaminants. This job is best done by contaminated soil remediation services.

Cleaning Method 3: Chemical Oxidation

Chemical oxidation seeks to reactivate the chemical oxidants found in the contaminated soils. Doing so removes contaminants like asbestos and industrial polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Cleaning Method 4: Soil Washing

Soil washing is a treatment technique that seeks to wash the contaminants from the affected soil. The downside of soil washing is that it does not destroy the waste but merely moves it. It is not advised if the contaminated soil borders a large water table.

Cleaning Method 5: Thermal Treatment

Thermal treatment involves heating the polluted soil to destroy or move the contaminants towards the surface. It is a dangerous process that should only be conducted by contaminated soil remediation services.

Two things become apparent from the five cleaning methods above. Contaminated soil disposal involves either remediation or moving the contaminated soil to another location. Both come with their risks, challenges, and advantages.

Contaminated Soil Remediation Services

Many soil remediation services offer solutions to return the soil to a near-organic state. However, microplastics and matter like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons make this nearly impossible.

Yet soil remediation remains a popular contaminated soil disposal option. This is because it seeks to address a waste issue and not dump it elsewhere.

This is a world that is becoming ever more environmentally conscious. Therefore soil remediation offers solutions that seek to rebuild and not merely throw away.

Contaminated soil disposal is a crucial part of the waste management industry. Safe disposal benefits households and businesses. A trained team must undertake the process.

Is Contaminated Soil Hazardous?

Contaminated sites pose possible dangers to human health and the environment. Hazardous waste, such as asbestos and harmful heavy metals, causes contaminated soil to decay and become toxic to humans.
Additionally, improper contaminated soil disposal leads to further pollution of the surrounding environment.
It is essential to treat contaminated soil as if it is hazardous waste. The risks of harm are significant, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

Is Contaminated Soil Reversible?

Soil contamination is reversible. However returning the contaminated soils to their original, natural state is challenging. Contaminated soil disposal considers how heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons directly result from human industrial activities.
It is vital to address them similarly to all climate changes. Though it is unfeasible to say that we shall return to a state before there is harm done.