Massachusetts Advances Best Practices in Soil Reuse and Reclamation 02/06/20

January 4th, 2018

Over the past decade, there has been a national focus on advancing ‘best’ practices in the reuse and recycling of surplus soils generated from large urban developments and excavations. Traditional practices for managing these soils included trucking and costly disposal at in-state or out-of-state landfills, consuming ‘valuable’ airspace needed for trash and solid waste. This method had negative impacts on the environment and the economy.

On June 30th, 2015, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) implemented COMM-15-01, an interim policy on soil reclamation. This policy mandates specific ‘regulations, guidelines, standards or procedures’ to determine soil suitability to be used as fill material for reclamation of quarries, sand pits and gravel pits, as well as other land expansion needs. Under these guidelines, MassDEP grants an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) for sites and companies that meet the interim policy’s site-specific review and approval process.

The 2015 soil reclamation policy has helped to expand opportunities for soil reuse, with nine active facilities with MassDEP approval in the form of an ACO. These nine active facilities accept excess soils that meet the policy’s stringent guidelines. Filling these sites with acceptable soils allows for their future revitalization and development, including recreational parks, solar or wind farms, mixed-use developments or other productive community assets and resources.

W. L. French Excavating Corporation was the first Soil Management firm in the State to receive an ACO from MassDEP for the St. Mary Expansion Project in Tewksbury, MA. St. Mary accepted over 800,000 tons of reclaimed soil from large Boston site excavations to expand, fill and level existing acreage at the cemetery for increased burial plots.

Massachusetts’ first ACO Permitted Soil Reuse Facility, W. L. French’s St. Mary Cemetery Expansion Project in Tewksbury, MA.

W. L. French currently manages and operates two of Massachusetts’ nine permitted (in the form of an ACO) soil reuse facilities. W. L. French’s second facility, the Dudley Soil Reclamation Project, is located in Dudley, MA. One of the largest facilities in the State, this quarry has four million tons of airspace capacity that W. L. French will fill with urban soils from Massachusetts over the next 5-10 years. Future redevelopment plans for the site include a large solar farm.

The Dudley Soil Reclamation Project in Dudley, MA, W. L. French’s second ACO-permitted soil reuse facility. The Dudley Soil Reclamation Project is spearheaded by W. L. French in partnership with Rampco Construction.

Historically, Boston has achieved success reusing acceptable excess soils generated from Boston’s Big Dig to refill the 22-acre Quincy, MA Quarry. Tons of surplus soils from the new highway tunnels were trucked to Quincy to fill in the main quarries.


The Quincy Quarry was once littered with trash, and also resulted in injuries and fatalities from ‘cliff jumping’ into the Quarry water.

Filling Quincy Quarry with the Big Dig soils created a large recreational area for rock climbers that connects with the Blue Hills Reservation trails. This site is now a widely used community park and valuable resource for the City.

Massachusetts recognizes that with a ‘comprehensive approach’ to soil management, soil reuse facilities can increase in-state options for adaptive reuse of excess excavated soil. Soil reuse facilities are helping revitalize unused property, generate income for property owners and communities and lower construction costs for developers. Overall, these facilities are allowing our State to advance ‘best practices’ by reusing and recycling soils.

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Contributor Bio

About W. L. French Excavating Corporation

Established in 1972, W. L. French Excavating Corporation (WLF) is a privately owned family business that provides a broad range of construction services including; Mass Excavation, Site Remediation, Heavy Utility Construction & Installation, Soil & Waste Management and Snow Services for clients throughout the New England region. WLF’s forty plus years of construction experience is bolstered by its team of 185 construction professionals and a fleet of 250 pieces of heavy equipment. In 2017, WLF's annual revenues amounted to $85 million.

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