Contaminated Soil!!?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by J Haugner, Aug 10, 2004.

  1. J Haugner

    J Haugner LawnSite Member
    Posts: 51

    Contaminated Soil!!?

    I have been dealing with one of the largest soil/mulch and gravel supply companies for 12 years now. The service they provide for me is excellent, two hr response time on deliveries, below wholesale pricing, generous quantities and even a tee shirt earlier this spring. My concern lies with the last three deliveries, particularly this last one. I smelled it with the first two deliveries over the past month but this one really caught my nose. Immediately after the 15 yards of 3-way topsoil for a sod job slid out of the truck I smelled an unnatural chemical type smell. It smelled like stale old gas or diesel diffused in plenty of topsoil. I got a lot of opinions from people smelling it and it was a general consensus that it had a petroleum smell. I’ve been digging since I was five and I know the smell of good earthy tilth. I spoke with my client who ironically works for the state ecology department and she said off the record; that this company is being looked into for such issues. I called my sales rep and he is semi defensive on the issue. I was surprised to hear from my sales rep that they have no in house soil testing. He even had the Gaul to ask if I would pay for their lab testing if it proved clean. I am going to test it myself through the county horticultural extension.
    I hope that this soil is clean and maybe certain amounts of some contaminants are acceptable. And maybe it got snuck in without them knowing. But I had three large loads over the past month and I am certainly not the only one getting this soil?!
    But let’s say it is not and it is in at least three of my client’s yards and some even used it for a garden.
    There are other topsoil companies out there but what about my responsibility to my clients and environment?
    Has anyone some insight or similar experience.
  2. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    It's not surprising they don't do in-house testing. That's probably pretty standard.

    Any soil contaminated with petroleum does NOT belong anywhere outside of a toxic waste facility.

    I don't know if there is any way to "clean" the soil, but I highly doubt that there is.

    If you've been using them for that long, you've probably spent a lot of money with them. I'd think that they would want to bend over backwards to make you happy. If your sales rep doesn't give you the response you want, go over his head and get it there.

    Good luck!

  3. gvandora

    gvandora LawnSite Member
    Posts: 143

    I think you might me looking at some serious liability here. I would consider talking to an attorney in the event that soil test comes back with contamination. I think you would have to notify and correct the problems for your other clients where the contaminated soil might have been used.
  4. KCON1

    KCON1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 46

    this may be hard to fathom but I'm not at all surprised about the soil being contaminated with petroleum. because i recently found out what happens to most of the contaminated soil in my area like from roadside spills etc. I'm on the local fire dept and in a recent HAZ MAT class this subject came up and it seems that when petroleum contaminated soil is hauled away it is either burned in an incinerator to remove contaminents or spread over a designated field for these contaminents to evaporate or leach out which ever occurs first and am I the only one who thinks this is just plain wrong
  5. J Haugner

    J Haugner LawnSite Member
    Posts: 51

    Thanks guys. I'll keep you up to date
  6. BostonGuy

    BostonGuy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 28

    I always try to work with my suppliers first. It sounds like you notified them. I'd make sure the right people are aware at your supplier. Just as you are worried that your clients may be in danger, you supplier should be worried that they put you in danger. Have you been able to point out the smell to them? What did they think? If they show no concern and don't want to be pro active about it, you don't need their business. Get the soil tested.

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