Railroad construction activities can range from new track installation to rail yard development. Similar to most construction projects, it is common for each project to require a net import of clean fill or a net export of soil, depending on differences between the existing and proposed surface grades. As a means to reduce potential environmental liability, it is imperative that imported soil is qualified as free of contaminants and exported soil is managed properly depending upon the presence of potential contaminants. Liability exposure could result if contaminated soils were used as import material or if export soil was sent off-site for reuse by others.
An existing railroad client approached Antea Group to assist with development of a soil management program (SMP) for construction projects by their engineering department. The objective of an SMP is to reduce environmental liability and create a uniform practice for management of soils during construction activities.
Given the wide range of construction projects, the SMP needed to provide an appropriate level of structure while maintaining an inherent amount of flexibility to account for site-specific conditions. Antea Group sought input from representatives of various stakeholders, including the Engineering Department and their contracted design engineers, the Environmental Department, and construction managers in the Operations Department. Additionally, input was obtained from track construction firms to ensure that practices outlined in the SMP did not have detrimental effects on construction progress.
A programmatic approach was incorporated into the SMP development, ensuring a uniform and consistent practice was incorporated into all construction projects.
Key components of the SMP include a flexible soil sampling plan that takes into account land use and risk, collection of representative soil samples for analytical testing, and a streamlined summary report for the Engineering Department. A ballast evaluation is also conducted to determine if slag ballast is present as a potential source of metals contamination. If soil impacts are reported in excess of applicable regulatory limits, a framework was developed to assist in the development of a remediation strategy, which may include contaminant modeling, supplemental sampling for delineation of impacts, waste characterization, and evaluation of disposal and treatment alternatives.
Learn more about our work in the railroad industry.