Interim Policy COMM-94-007: Dredged Sediment Reuse or Disposal

This policy simplifies the review process for reuse or disposal of dredged sediments.

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

Approved by Thomas P. Powers, Acting Commissioner, on February 15, 1995.

Note: Transportation of dredged sediments to a landfill must be accompanied by a DEP Material Shipping Record (MSR).

This policy is intended to streamline the review and approval process for dredged sediments proposed to be reused or disposed at Massachusetts permitted landfills. All references to landfills in this policy mean Massachusetts permitted landfills operated in compliance with Department of Environmental Protection (Department, DEP) regulations and policies. Reuse means beneficial use of sediments as daily cover, intermediate cover and pre-cap contouring material. Disposal means burial in a landfill. References to lined landfills mean landfills which have a DEP approved, functioning liner with a leachate collection system.

The DEP updated its former Policy # BWP-94-037 on the requirements for testing, tracking, transporting and reusing or disposing of contaminated soils and dredged sediments at Massachusetts permitted landfills on August of 1997 (COMM-97-001). That Policy exempts certain qualifying soils and sediments from Department review and approval based on contaminant concentrations, provided that they are destined for reuse at lined landfills.

Since the adoption of Policy # BWP-94-037, the Department has recognized that the testing requirements for soils and sediments in that Policy were different from the parameters routinely required for DEP water quality certification (WQC) of dredging projects under 314 CMR 9.00. The different testing parameters resulted in proponents desiring to reuse or dispose of sediments at landfills having to perform a second battery of tests, after obtaining a WQC, thereby adding significant expense and delay to the project. This situation also resulted in Department review regardless of the concentrations of contaminants present. This policy will identify for inclusion in the WQC application package the sediment characteristics of interest to the Department concerning disposal or reuse at landfills. These additional parameters will supplement the parameters routinely assessed in the WQC review. Proponents will be able to perform one set of tests to satisfy the requirements for both the WQC and The Bureau of Waste Prevention (BWP), and further, if sediments do not exceed Table 1 contaminant limits (Section 5.0 below), an applicant need not obtain individual BWP review and approval for sediment reuse at a lined landfill.

Testing for the following additional constituents will now be required of WQC applicants proposing landfill reuse/disposal of sediments: arsenic, total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and in some cases TCLP (see Section 5.0 below). Of these, VOCs and TCLP have not been required by the WQC review. The other parameters have been required for WQC only if the dredging was proposed in urban harbors or other potentially contaminated areas.

2.0 Applicability

This policy is being issued under the Department's authority granted in MGL c.21, s. 26-53, MGL c.21A, s.14, 314 CMR 9.00 and MGL c.111, s.150A, 310 CMR 19.000, and is in accordance with the requirements of MGL c.21E and 310 CMR 40.0000 and MGL c.21C and 310 CMR 30.000.

This policy applies to all dredged sediments evaluated for individual WQC and proposed to be reused or disposed at landfills. In such cases, this policy supersedes Policy # BWP-94-037 with respect to sediments.

3.0 Purpose and Scope

This interim policy integrates applicable elements of DEP's Interim Policy BWP-94-037 and Water Quality Certification regulations at 314 CMR 9.00. Sediments intended to be reused at lined landfills and which have no contaminants exceeding the limits indicated in Table 1 (see Section 5.0), will not require individual approval from the BWP [now the Bureau of Air & Waste (BAW)]. Sediments will continue to require approval from BAW if a) they exceed the Table 1 contaminant limits, b) if they are intended to be disposed at lined or unlined landfills, or c) if they are intended to be reused at an unlined landfill (see section 9.0 below) . This policy does not change the existing information required by the Department to evaluate water quality impacts of dredging or in-water disposal currently determined in the existing WQC application and review process under 314 CMR 9.00.

The information contained in this policy is intended solely for guidance. This policy does not create any substantive or procedural rights, enforceable by any party in any administrative proceeding with the Commonwealth.

4.0 Sediment Sampling

A sampling plan should reflect the fact that contaminants generally reach the sediments after being dispersed in and transported through water. In an area with no known particular local sources of contaminants and no known history of release of oil and hazardous materials (OHM), the sampling plan may be based on a grid diagram of the area. At least one core sample shall be obtained for each 1000 cubic yards (cu. yds.) of proposed dredged sediment. The depth of each core should correspond to the dredging depth at the sampling site.

Where local sources of contamination exist, i.e., combined sewer overflows, storm drain outlets, boat repair docks, fuel docks, etc., or where information exists regarding historic release(s) or spill(s) of OHM, project areas which may have been affected by these sources of contaminants must be specifically targeted in the sampling plan.

Up to three core samples may be composited for analysis of all contaminants except VOCs provided that there is no known source of contaminants specific to the sample location and provided there is some basis for expecting sediments from these sampling locations to be similar, such as water depth or grain size. It is recommended that cores be split with one half used for compositing and one half archived in the event high contaminant values in the composite necessitate further analysis. All portions of the cores should be represented in the resulting composite sample(s). Where potential sources of contaminants exist close to a portion of the dredging area, the core(s) from that location shall not be composited with cores from locations outside the expected reach of the particular contamination source. If the surface sediments and the deeper (pre-industrial era) sediments will or may go to different disposal sites, core fractions of appropriate core samples should be composited.

Sub-samples for VOC analysis should be obtained from the core sample directly and not from a composite of several cores. A field photo-ionization detector (PID) or similar field VOC monitoring equipment can be used to screen the core for areas where VOCs are present. These areas of the core should then be subsampled for VOC analysis. Where the PID does not detect any VOCs, subsamples should be obtained representing all visually different areas of the core.

A plan showing the sampling locations and a description of any compositing or subsampling must be provided to DEP.

Summary of sampling and analysis frequency requirements:

  • Number of core samples: 1 core for each 1000 cu. yds.; minimum of 2 cores in all cases
  • Number of composite samples to be analyzed: up to 3 cores may be composited for analysis, but a minimum of two analytical data sets must be presented representing the sediment volume to be dredged.

5.0 Sediment Analysis

Generally, the Department requires the analyses listed below be performed for sediment which is proposed to be beneficially used or disposed at landfills. However, site-specific factors are important in any sediment sampling and analysis plan. If an applicant wishes to assert that the dredge area may reasonably be assumed not to contain a parameter of interest, the applicant may present information to the Department in support of that position. The WQC application review normally relies on in-house information about the project area as well as on applicant's responses to questions on the WQC application form dealing with chemical and oil spills/discharges, industrial and municipal discharges, chronic pollutants from port and harbor use and other indirect pollutant sources.

The Department requires sediment conductivity to be tested prior to review of proposals for reuse or disposal of the sediments at unlined landfills. (A reference for ASTM G-57, a probe test for soil resistivity, the reciprocal of conductivity, is given in Section 10.0.)

The Department may require sampling of additional contaminants or characteristics, or may require specific numbers or locations of samples based on the individual characteristics of the project site.

The DEP has determined that the contaminant levels indicated in Table 1 are acceptable for sediment reuse at lined landfills as daily cover, intermediate cover and pre-cap contouring material provided that all other provisions in this policy are complied with.

The following Table 1 sediment constituents shall be analyzed, in addition to routine testing required for the Water Quality Certification.

Table 1
Maximum Allowable Contaminant Levels for Sediment Reuse at Lined Landfills
Contaminant (a) Reuse Levels
Total Arsenic 40
Total Cadmium 80
Total Chromium 1,000
Total Lead 2,000
Total Mercury 10
Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) 5,000
Total PBCs (b) < 2
Total PAHs (c) 100
Total VOCs (d) 10
Listed or Characteristic Hazardous Waste (TCLP) (e)  none


  1. Contaminant concentrations are in mg/kg, dry weight.
  2. Total concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls listed in EPA Method 8080.
  3. Total concentrations of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons listed in EPA Method 8100.
  4. Total concentrations of volatile organic compounds listed in EPA Method 8240 or equivalent.
  5. TCLP testing should be performed for metals or organic compounds when the total concentrations in the sediments are above the theoretical levels at which the TCLP criteria may be met or exceeded. For the above metals such levels (mg/kg) are: As > 100, Cd > 20, Cr > 100, Pb > 100, Hg > 4.

6.0 Tracking and Reporting

All dredged sediments transported to a landfill must be accompanied by a DEP Material Shipping Record (MSR) completed by a qualified environmental professional. The requirements for a qualified environmental professional are given in the instructions accompanying the Material Shipping Record form. If the sediment is a remediation waste generated from a 21E site, then a Bill of Lading (BOL) signed by a Licensed Site Professional or authorized DEP employee as applicable will be required pursuant to 310 CMR 40.0034, 40.0035.

The landfill permittee using these sediments as cover or grading material shall annually send 21E BOL or MSR summary reports documenting sediment reuse, recycling or disposal activities with the landfill's regular annual operational reports to the Solid Waste Section in the applicable Regional Office as required by 310 CMR 19.130 (34)(d). The summary reports shall include the source of the sediments, amounts, dates received and reference the 21E BOL or MSR Tracking Numbers.

A Material Shipping Record form and this policy will be included in the 401 WQC application package.

7.0 Handling

Sediments shall be dewatered prior to trucking. Sediments shall contain no free-draining liquids. When there is a question as to whether this standard is met, the paint filter test, EPA Method 9095, shall be used to determine the presence of free-draining liquids in a representative sample.

All sediments shall be covered by a tarpaulin or other means during transport to prevent the material from escaping the vehicle during transport.

These handling provisions will be made conditions of the DEP Water Quality Certificate.

8.0 Landfill Operation Requirements

The following landfill operation procedures are required to prevent unacceptable exposure to humans and the environment from Table 1 contaminants.

  1. Preventative maintenance must be employed to ensure that the sediment, whether stockpiled or applied to the landfill, does not erode into the area between the landfill and the property boundary.
  2. Fugitive dust levels shall be kept to a minimum through the use of Best Management Practices such as chemical addition or other BWP-approved method. Sediments shall be prohibited from use on haul roads or other areas used for vehicle or truck traffic.
  3. Contaminated sediments shall not be applied or placed in direct contact with the landfill liner without prior written approval of the DEP.
  4. Contaminated sediments applied as daily cover shall not exceed 25% of the total volume of solid waste disposed in any single day.
  5. Storage of sediments shall not take place on areas of the landfill which have received final cover unless the landfill receives prior written approval from the DEP.
  6. Stockpiling of sediments shall be limited to portions of the landfill which are lined, or as specified by DEP.
  7. Daily cover or other reuse materials which contain contaminated sediments shall be applied within 90 days of receipt at the facility unless prior written approval by the DEP is obtained.
  8. Sediments received at the landfill shall have no free draining liquids. Visual inspection based on the source of dredge spoils shall be sufficient to determine whether there are free draining liquids in most cases. When there is a question whether this standard is met, EPA method 9095 shall be used to determine the presence of free liquids in a representative sample of the sediment.
  9. The standards for daily cover in 310 CMR 19.130 (15) must be met including the requirement that the cover material be substantially odor free.
  10. The sediments shall be substantially free of solid waste (e.g. construction and demolition debris). See 310 CMR 16.05 (3)(i) for conditionally exempted rubble processing (crushing) operations.
  11. When sediments are proposed for use as intermediate cover, the standards in 310 CMR 19.130 (15)(c) must be met including the requirement that the material meet the following Unified Soil Classification System categories: G.C.; S.C.; C.H.; C.L.; or O.H. Other sediments which are not classified as G.C., S.C., C.H., C.L. or O.H must receive DEP approval prior to use as intermediate cover.
  12. Sediments which are to be used as pre-cap contouring material must be applied in accordance with a DEP approved corrective action design, closure plan, or contouring plan.

9.0 Review and Approval for Reuse or Disposal at Massachusetts Permitted Landfills

9.1 Sediment Reuse at Lined Landfills
Sediment proposed for reuse as cover or grading material at a lined landfill will need no additional formal review by the Department's Division of Solid Waste Management provided that:

  1. the sediment has been sampled and tested in accordance with sections 4.0 and 5.0;
  2. the sediment does not exceed the contaminant thresholds in Table 1 as determined by the Department's WQC review; and
  3. Sections 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0 of this policy are complied with.

Sediments which exceed one or more of the contaminant thresholds in Table 1 and are proposed for cover or grading material will require a Landfill Minor Modification (BWP SW 22) or other approval from DEP.

9.2 Sediment Reuse at Unlined Landfills
Sediments may be allowed for cover and/or grading purposes at unlined landfills provided that the landfill owner or operator requests and DEP approves an application for Landfill - Minor Modification (BWP SW 22), or other DEP approval to reuse the sediments at an unlined landfill is granted. Such an application is to be submitted to the applicable DEP Regional Office with analytical sediment data as provided in Sections 4.0 and 5.0 , including sediment conductivity data, and with landfill site data sufficient for DEP to make a determination.

9.3 Sediment Disposal at Lined or Unlined Landfills
A Special Waste Determination (BWP SW 14 or BWP SW 31) or other approval by DEP to dispose of the sediments at a landfill shall be obtained prior to disposal of any sediments (exceeding or not exceeding Table 1 values) at a lined or unlined landfill.

Sediments shall not be disposed of at landfills if a feasible alternative exists that involves the reuse, recycling, destruction, and/or detoxification of such sediments in accordance with the solid waste management hierarchy established in the Solid Waste Master Plan. Cost shall not be the only reason for deeming such other alternatives infeasible. The applicant must fully assess the feasibility of alternatives to sediment disposal at a landfill.

Feasibility determinations made pursuant to 310 CMR 40.0032(5) for 21E generated sediments shall be considered consistent with this section of the policy.

10.0 References

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