DRAFT Interim Policy

MassDEP has prepared  a DRAFT Interim Policy on the Re-Use of Soil for Large Reclamation Projects and the Department seeks your review and comment on this proposal by June 17, 2015.  We anticipate finalizing the Interim Policy by June 30, 2015 in accordance with Section 277 of Chapter 165 of the Acts of 2014.

The DRAFT Policy describes an interim approach for obtaining site-specific Department approval for the reclamation of quarries, sand pits and gravel pits using more than 100,000 cubic yards of soil.  The approach institutionalized in this policy has been successfully implemented on a case-by-case basis to allow operations to begin accepting large volumes of soil as fill. The policy provides clarity on the types of locations that would require approval and the nature of the documentation/information necessary for DEP to sign-off on the reclamation project.  The policy would remain in effect while the Department continues to work with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive approach to implement Section 277

Download the DRAFT Interim Policy:

We look forward to any comments and suggestions you may have – both for improving the interim policy AND as we move ahead to develop a comprehensive approach for quarry reclamation projects.  Comments on the draft policy should be sent to Paul.Locke@state.ma.us by June 17, 2015, or you can append them to this post using the “Leave a Comment” link below.

If you have any questions during your review of this material, please feel free to email (Paul.Locke@state.ma.us) or call (617-556-1160).

Thank-you for your continued participation in this important project!

– Paul Locke

P.S.  The draft policy will likely be an agenda topic for a Waste Site Cleanup Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday, June 25, 2015 (rescheduled from 6/17/15 for those of you following along.)  All are welcome to attend and participate in the meeting either live or on-line. Agenda will be posted at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/news/advisory-committees/waste-site-cleanup-program-advisory-committee.html as the meeting date approaches.

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6 Responses to DRAFT Interim Policy

  1. massdepwsc says:

    QUESTION RECEIVED BY MassDEP: Would this policy apply to a quarry, gravel pit, or sand pit accepting 100k and more of soil from only sites such as a new condominium complex with a large untested soil export volume that’s being cut into the virgin hills of say…[NAME OF VERY RURAL TOWN], MA? Or is does this policy only apply to Non-Reportable soils coming from sections of 21E sites?

    MassDEP RESPONSE: Per Section 277, it would apply to all quarries, sand pits & gravel pits accepting more than 100,000 yd3 of soil regardless of the source of the soil. I hope it says that.

    FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: . So regardless of site origin, 21E or not, the policy would apply?

    MassDEP RESPONSE: It might be better to think of it this way:

    Section 277 of the fy15 budget is unrelated to chapter 21e and the mcp. It is a separate law with different objectives. It directs MassDEP (not the bureau of waste site cleanup) to regulate the filling of quarries. That is why the draft policy will be COMM-15-01, indicating it is a Commissioner’s Office/ DEP policy ( not a BWSC policy, which all start with WSC- )

    The basic rule is that if someone is going to fill a large hole, they should know what is going into it.

    Does that help? Don’t be confused by the fact the email came from someone in BWSC – it could have just as easily been circulated from someone in the Bureau of Air and Waste or the Commissioner’s Office!


  2. massdepwsc says:

    QUESTION RECEIVED BY MassDEP: Am I correct this policy is not relevant to land which is currently upland and from which one might one day create cranberry bogs and, in the process, extract large amounts of soil/sand for sale for use off site?

    MassDEP RESPONSE: You are correct. To further generalize, this policy does not address any location FROM WHICH soil is excavated. It is specific to the FILLING of old quarries, sand pits and gravel pits. At least, that’s what we intended it to say. If you think otherwise after reading it, please comment!


  3. massdepwsc says:

    QUESTION RECEIVED BY MassDEP: Does COMM-15-01 apply to properties that are not former quarries or sand/gravel pits? We have some clients that own large parcels with significant (natural) variations in topography that are interested in importing material to fill the low areas and redevelop the parcels. Would COMM-15-01 apply if they were to import more than 100,000 CY of material?

    MassDEP RESPONSE: When finalized, COMM-15-01 would apply “to any project commenced or expanded after May 1, 2015 and which is anticipated to accept 100,000 cubic yards or more of soil for the reclamation/filling of a quarry, gravel pit, or sand pit.” Based on that language, if a property is NOT a quarry, sand pit or gravel pit and is taking any amount of soil, OR if the quarry, sand pit or gravel pit is only taking in less than 100,000 yd3 of soil (cumulative), then COMM-15-01 would NOT apply.

    The DRAFT policy does helpfully remind everyone that, “Fill projects that accept any amount of soil (whether pursuant to this Interim Policy or otherwise) must ensure that the filling does not create new, reportable releases of oil or hazardous materials to the environment pursuant to M.G.L. c. 21E and 310 CMR 40.0000, or will not violate M.G.L. c. 111, section 150A, 310 CMR 16.00, or 310 CMR 19.000.” Those are existing statutes and regulations. Sadly, MassDEP frequently hears about landowners who have gotten good deals on fill material to smooth their natural topography only to find out later the fill contained problematic (and notifiable) oil and/or hazardous materials. (“Caveat Lutum”)


  4. George Providakes says:

    When a major property revision occurs, e.g., filling in and re-use of a quarry, health and safety, as well as environmental impact is part of the expected process, although the scope of environmental impact is unclear. In my mind, it extends to economic impact in the neighborhood, to include but not limited to other properties [and their value] as well as usage e.g., residual or commercial or public spaces [parks]. However, these do not seem to be included, in fact, the enumeration in the document seems to exclude these concerns.


  5. massdepwsc says:


    These comments may seem silly……..but the definition of soil and fill are being interchanged. Should they be? As a soil scientist, can the soils include anthropogenic material………asphalt, coal ash, brick etc? Excavated material? Perhaps include a definition(s) of the soil or material and the physical nature of the material pertains to this policy. Will the hauler receiving the soil for transport be provided a notice that the cubic yards meets the requirements of this policy?


    The draft policy does not specifically define “fill” or “soil”, but the concept is that we are talking about “soil being used as fill material.” The ACO/approval would have language that would address any incidental (de mimimis) anthropogenic material that might be mixed in with the soil, but the policy is SOIL FOCUSED. Section 277 talks about soil used to reclaim quarries, NOT solid waste or other non-soil material.

    As for the hauler, this policy should not affect her. The volume trigger (100,000 cubic yards) for the ACO/approval is based on the cumulative expected volume of the receiving location. We would expect there would be a wide range of projects SENDING soil to the quarry – big, little & all – and those generators/excavators of soil would not need DEP’s approval (based solely on this policy). The quarry’s Soil Management Plan would spell out what it could and could not accept.


  6. Pingback: Comments on the Draft Interim Policy | MassDEP Reclamation Soil Project

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