BLDUP Spotlight: Massachusetts Disposal Crisis 05/23/23

soil spotlight

There is an existing crisis in the soil and slurry disposal market in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  This crisis is related to the dwindling availability of landfill capacity in our state.  

"Our State is in the midst of disposal crisis with a lack of in-state soil disposal options.  This crisis is forcing us to ship our soils (via truck or rail) to other states as far away as Ohio. This solution is a stop-gap approach and is extremely cost-prohibitive to developments (including the development of affordable housing)  Trucking and railing our soils out of state has potential to significantly increase green-house gas emissions which is in contradiction to our State’s emissions reduction goals. “ - Lisa French Kelley, Principal of W. L. French Excavating Corporation.    

To assist the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection with developing solutions to this crisis, the Massachusetts Soil Beneficial Reuse Coalition (the Soil Coalition) was formed in February of 2022 and is now represented by the most prominent environmental consultants, attorneys, disposal facilities, site contractors, general contractors, real estate developers, trades groups, waste and soil transporters who have come together to identify solutions to the immediate issue.  

The Soil Coalition’s mission is “to develop sustainable short- and long-term beneficial reuse solutions for the Massachusetts construction, brownfield redevelopment, and site remediation market.”  

The Coalition continues to work with Massachusetts DEP to discuss and advance proposed solutions and MassDEP has expressed its willingness to support some relief to the impending crisis.  

The coalition also seeks to broaden overall industry awareness of this very important issue which will have a negative impact on our environment.

Today, only a handful of Massachusetts lined and unlined landfills remain open to accept lightly contaminated urban fill soils excavated from construction and remediation projects in accordance with the COMM-97-001 Policy.  Considering the typical volume of soil generated annually and the remaining landfill capacity, there is a soil disposal capacity shortfall of 1 million tons in 2023 alone. 

That’s near 34,000 18-wheeled truckloads.  Additionally, 400,000 tons of slurry spoils (soils excavated within slurry used to construct excavation support walls and building foundation elements) will be generated in 2023 with only one regulated facility in the state that will consider accepting this waste stream.  

“This disposal crisis is having a negative economic and environmental impact for our Commonwealth.  We are hopeful by further broadening awareness we can move forward with our Coalition’s disposal solutions.”  - Lisa French Kelley, Principal of W. L. French Excavating Corporation.    

The soil and slurry capacity shortfall is already resulting in an increase in transportation and disposal pricing by more than 300% (as these materials now must be hauled far out of state to available landfills which is not a responsible or sustainable option).  

On many urban real estate development projects, this adds millions in project costs on top of the cost pressures already faced by the industry, making many development projects, especially affordable housing construction projects, infeasible.  This disposal shortfall is also impacting Massachusetts Municipalities and their budgets, due to the significant rise in disposal cost for various municipal waste streams.  

For more information on the Massachusetts Beneficial Reuse Coalition please contact us at: 


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Contributor Bio


The Massachusetts Soil Beneficial Reuse Coalition (MSBRC) is a partnership between Massachusetts Construction industry stakeholders that formed in response to the existing crisis in the soil disposal market in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

The coalition is dedicated to providing sustainable and practical in-state solutions for the responsible reuse and disposal of soil and slurry.  

The coalition promotes environmental stewardship, environmental justice, sound waste management practices, and the protection of public health and the environment.