Generic criteria for soil

Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks

Generic criteria for soils

The generic criteria are used to assess the extent of contamination, they also serve as decontamination objectives for a given use. They are also used as a tool for management of contaminated soil excavated (see Table 2 of the main document) and were established to protect the health of future users and to protect the environment. These criteria are the easiest to apply to a field mode of intervention, and one that requires the least amount of monitoring and engagement for the future. Their use should be the mode of risk management considered a priority, and therefore be the most commonly used.

Gates of generic criteria for soil

The Ministry of Environment and Wildlife provides three levels of generic criteria for several substances. The list of criteria is presented below. Levels (A, B, C) can be defined as follows.

Level A: Background levels for inorganic parameters and limit of quantification for organic parameters. The limit of quantification is defined as the minimum concentration that can be quantified using an analytical method with a defined reliability.

Level B: Maximum acceptable limit for land used for residential, recreational and institutional. Also included are commercial land located in a residential area. The institutional use includes uses such as hospitals, schools and daycares. Recreational use includes a large number of possible cases with different sensitivities. Thus, sensitive uses, such as playgrounds, should be managed according to the level B. For their part, recreational uses considered less sensitive as bike paths can be combined in C.

Level C: Maximum acceptable limit for commercial land, not located in a residential area, and for industrial land.

Specific criteria for agricultural use are not included in this set of criteria, but may be added later. On an interim basis, but it is recommended that any re-use of land for agricultural purposes is done on own soil, that is to say, that meet the Level A set of criteria. In the case where the soil does not meet this standard, it must be shown that the concentrations found in the field are safe for agricultural use.

Use of generic criteria for soil

The use of generic criteria such as soil decontamination objective means that for a particular purpose, all contaminated above the generic criterion related to land use must be excavated and safely managed, or be subject a treatment until the concentration of retained soil reaches or is lower than the criterion value of the credit.

The approach based on generic soil criteria must necessarily be coupled with an audit of the status of groundwater. Indeed, the assessment of groundwater quality and its impacts may require additional intervention to be taken into account in developing the plan to restore the land.

In addition, in some cases, the head of the contamination must before soil remediation based generic use criteria, whether the levels are sufficient decontamination projected. This check is necessary in cases where there is the presence of a resource to which the objectives of the Strategy Implementation in Quebec of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Government of Quebec, 1996). These resources are defined by:

  • Critical or sensitive areas for biodiversity (bog, marsh, swamp, mature forest, etc.);
  • Protected areas (park, ecological reserve, habitat and wildlife refuge, etc.);
  • Threatened or vulnerable or likely to be so designated, and their habitats.

In these cases, an ecological risk assessment of limited scope must be performed. How to conduct such an analysis is described in the document MEF entitled "Procedure for Ecological Risk Assessment." It uses a concept limited to restrict the characterization of risk to sensitive resources present scale model. It aims to ensure that the use of generic criteria achieves the desired level of protection for these resources. The results of this assessment will determine if remediation based generic criteria is sufficient or whether to go further rehabilitation.

Regarding the level of decontamination achieved if intervention contamination occurring after the date of issuance of the policy, the objective is to restore the land to the state it was before the event. This will apply in all cases of contamination. If the terrain before the spill was unknown, the background levels presented in the grid generic criteria will be used.