Managing and treating soil is a standard part of the construction process. Victoria's Big Build responsibly manages worksites to keep communities healthy and protect the environment.
Victoria’s Big Build projects follow strict protocols to identify and manage polluted soil to look after the safety of workers, the community and the environment.
Projects are guided by a number of requirements including the National Environment Management Plan (NEMP) and the EPA Victoria Industrial Waste Resource Guidelines (IWRGs), which provide guidelines for how excavated material must be managed.
During planning, qualified specialists test the soil and projects prepare a Spoil Management Plan for consideration by EPA.
Once soil has been tested, it is then classified. Some classifications will allow the soil to be reused, others will require responsible disposal.
The disposal facilities are also licensed by EPA to accept each of the corresponding types of waste.
Material classified as 'fill material’ can be re-used on site or transferred to other project sites where it can also be recycled.
What's in the soil?
Each major project has different environmental characteristics and construction processes that help classify soil. These include geology, proximity to historical sites, depth to groundwater and how we excavate.
Naturally occurring heavy metals, such as arsenic, are found in the earth’s crust and are commonly found when excavating.
PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of chemicals resistant to heat, water and oil. PFAS has been used in manufacturing since the 1940s and can be commonly found in everyday items like cleaning products, polishes and paints.
It is common for PFAS to be found in low levels in soil on major infrastructure projects. Projects follow regulated national and state procedures to reuse or dispose of soil with PFAS at licenced sites to ensure community safety.
For more information about PFAS visit the EPA Victoria website.
Asbestos fibres are strong, heat resistant and have insulating properties. Asbestos was commonly used before 1980 in the production of asbestos cement sheeting and piping. Asbestos was also used in the manufacture of vinyl floor tiles, electrical components, brake linings and disc pads.
Health and safety
The health and safety of the community and the project teams are paramount to us. Projects have comprehensive health and safety management plans to ensure that members of the community and our project teams are safe.
Handling and removal
Our contractors use a range of measures to ensure the safety of the community and project team including:
- watering the soil so it is damp to manage dust
- managing stockpiles and covering them where possible
- minimising length of time the soil is in place
- ensuring workers are wearing personal protective equipment
- reducing contact with soil where possible.
All soil handled and removed from site is managed by EPA Victoria protocols.
Soil is separated out into its classification and disposed of in line with EPA requirements and approved spoil management procedures.
This material is then transported to predetermined locations on trucks that are licensed by the EPA. All trucks removing soil and material from project work sites are covered to prevent dirt and dust escaping.