Contaminated Soil!!?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by J Haugner, Aug 10, 2004.

  1. J Haugner

    J Haugner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 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. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    well, if I was in your situation if you found out that it has been contaminated I would first talk to the dealer. Tell him straight forward, "You can do two things; refund me the money for the soil and labor for the last 3 jobs,that I will now have to redo which is minimum to how much you would pay in small claims court, its your choice."
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Can you even IMAGINE how much it would cost this guy to get rid of this dirt? First, he would be out any money he has into it, (purchase, excavation, trucking, so forth). Then, he would have to pay the cost for an environmental claenup outfit to come get it, and dispose of it. He could NOT transport it himself! We would be talking thousands and thousands of dollars. His best bet, if he even has an INKling that it may be contaminated, would be to GET RID of that stuff as fast as he can. He may even want to clean up around the area that it was sitting, in case any word gets out, and the EPA decides they want to come in and take some samples, here and there.
  4. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    this is potentially a very serious situation.

    in the event this soil is contaminated, you will be jeld in the chain of financial custody as well as the supplier.

    the environmental law governing this kind of thing binds everyone involved, together. seriously!

    you need to hire an environmental consulting company immediately and have this soil tested.

    if it is bad, you must take action.

    if it is good, you may need the test results to prove it.

    the worst thing you can do is nothing.

    I have some knowlege in these matters. PM if you like.

  5. J Haugner

    J Haugner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 51

    Thanks for your input. I hope it is not contaminated! But it had a peculiar oder. The supplier said they tested it by putting it in water looking for a sheen. Of course they said there was no sheen . Sounds like a pretty amateur test.
    Yeah, I don't know what to do. This situation if it is contaminated could shut some small business like me down! Let me know your situation.
  6. RedRock

    RedRock LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    What Geo said...get it tested by a independant lab that you hire ASAP! You can be held liable for this mess also in enviromental claims, if it's nothing it proves just that and it was a lesson learned.
  7. Westbrooklawn

    Westbrooklawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 427

    I once had a friend that got a load of fill dirt that had a definite diesel/kerosene odor. Bottom line......the trucking company also hauled asphalt and had to spray their trucks beds with diesel fuel to keep the asphalt from sticking. They then turned around and used the same trucks to deliver soil.
  8. Rollacosta

    Rollacosta LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 331

    i bought and laid 200 yards of sod ,only to get the customer ring me a week later to inform me that it had all turned yellow and in his opinion died ,i whent see the lawn and it was dead so rang the supplier he said oh sorry that load should never have been cut it was treated with some chemical and should have been ploughed in..refund on the sod but not my labour made me mad ..don't use them for sod any more

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