Money Saving Environmental Compliance Tip for Contaminated Soil Disposal

June 22, 2017

On your next development project considering other options for disposing of contaminated soil could save you a significant amount of money on environmental compliance.


Circumstances sometimes dictate that a licensed landfill is your only option, but Wisconsin’s solid waste laws allow you to dispose of some types of contaminated soil at other locations if the soil qualifies as low risk. Alternative options are available through an exemption process outlined in Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter NR 718.

Who Can Apply for an NR 718 Exemption?

  • Contractors and developers on construction and utility projects
  • People cleaning up contaminated properties as an environmental remediation

Except for required actions when contamination is first discovered, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) must pre-approve exemptions.

Know the Rules Before You Apply

  • Complete testing to characterize the soil contaminants.
  • The WDNR must approve your plan for handling the soil unless the contaminant concentrations are less than the regulatory soil standards.
  • Submit documentation to the WDNR after completing the disposal.
  • Soils may be managed on or off site, but the locations must meet the minimum setbacks from wetlands, streams, rivers, private water supply wells, and other features.
  • Contaminated soil may be used as backfill at gravel pits or quarries, but the disposal of contaminated soil must be specifically allowed in the facility’s reclamation plan.
  • The WDNR publishes an online list of properties where contaminated soil is placed.
  • A barrier (cap) over the soil may be required depending on the disposal site and level of contamination in the soil. Other long-term obligations may apply.
  • The person who disposes of the soil; the owner of the property where the soil was disposed; and, in limited situations, the hauler; may be responsible for any future contamination resulting from the disposal of the contaminated soil on a property.
  • An NR 718 exemption is available for safely replacing other solid wastes such as contaminated sediments, fly ash, debris, or foundry sand on the same site from which they were removed, rather than taking them to a licensed landfill. These other solid wastes can not be disposed offsite under the NR 718 exemption but may be eligible for another type of exemption under the Waste & Materials Management Program.

Additional information and answers to your compliance questions are available by contacting an SCS professional. In Wisconsin, contact Ray Tierney or Betty Socha. Are you ready to take control of your environmental compliance costs? Contact me or Betty Socha to learn more about how you can save money on soil disposal at your next project.

To learn more about compliance options for contaminated dirt disposal, remediation, and construction options in other states contact or visit the SCS website services page.

Related Services and Compliance:

Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation
Environmental Due Diligence and All Appropriate Inquiries




Posted by Diane Samuels at 10:00 am