Pennsylvania

Welcome to Pennsylvania!

~ Pennsylvania Soil Testing Regulations ~

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) regulates waste disposal in the State of Pennsylvania as well as air quality, water quality, and remediation pursuant to both Federal and Pennsylvania regulations. PaDEP regulations codified in the Pennsylvania Administrative Code (Pa. Code) contain standards applicable to all generators of, transporters of, and facilities that store any type of waste.

The PaDEP requires or performs testing for soil contamination during certain procedures, such as during an underground storage tank (UST) removal. In general, PaDEP requires that soil which is likely to be contaminated or has been contaminated in the past should be tested for contaminants before it is reused. The PaDEP does not require testing of soil soil which is considered unlikely to be contaminated based on historic uses and conditions before reuse; however, if soil is later discovered to be contaminated, the "owner" of the soil is responsible for soil cleanup, even if the soil is no longer on the owner’s property.

Pennsylvania also has a strong anti-degradation policy applicable to of surface water bodies, as set forth in 25 Pa. Code Article 2. Water quality standards in 25 Pa. Code § 93 generally state that existing uses of surface waters are protected and that new uses that significantly lessen water quality or that pollute waters above standards specified in 25 Pa. Code § 93.7 and 93.8 are not allowed. Any contamination of soil that results in degradation of Pennsylvania surface waters must be remediated until surface waters are no longer impacted.

In addition to water anti-degradation standards, Pennsylvania has also promulgated a chart of state-wide health standards for concentrations of contaminants in soil. Any soil that contains one of the listed substances in concentrations higher than those listed in the chart is considered to be contaminated and must be remediated. The chart of the state-wide Pennsylvania health standards may be found at: http://www.dgs.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/land_recycling_program/10307/statewide_health_standards/552039.

Even if soil is impacted with an unlisted hazardous substance, the soil is likely to require remediation. In Section 103 of the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, a “hazardous substance” is defined as “any element, compound, or material which is: (i) Designated as a hazardous waste under the act of July 7, 1980 (P.L.380, No.97), known as the Solid Waste Management Act, and the regulations promulgated thereto; (ii) Defined or designated as a hazardous substance pursuant to the Federal Superfund Act; (iii) Contaminated with a hazardous substance to the degree that its release or threatened release poses a substantial threat to the public health and safety or the environment as determined by the department; (iv) Determined to be substantially harmful to public health and safety or the environment based on a standardized and uniformly applied department testing procedure and listed in
regulations proposed by the department and promulgated by the Environmental Quality Board.” The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act section 103 further defines “contaminant” as “an element, substance, compound or mixture which is defined as a pollutant or contaminant pursuant to the Federal Superfund Act,” except materials resulting from mining, natural gas compounds, synthetic gas usable for fuel, and many materials resulting from the production of electricity.

If you believe that your soil is contaminated you should contact the PaDEP Bureau of Waste Management Remediation Services Division at 717-783-9475. If your soil is contaminated enough to qualify as a hazardous waste and is not remediated, it must be disposed of at a proper hazardous waste disposal facility.

All standards applicable to generators of hazardous waste may be found in 25 Pa. Code § 262a: http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/025/chapter262a/chap262atoc.html. These regulations are pursuant to 35 P. S. § §  6018.105, 6018.401—6018.403 and 6018.501, 35 P. S. § §  691.105, 691.402 and 691.501, and 71 P. S. §  510-20.

Lead is considered a hazardous substance in the State of Pennsylvania. A set of default values for calculating medium-specific concentrations for lead may be found with the rest of the State-Wide Pennsylvania Health Standards specified in the link above.  Soil contaminated with lead in concentrations higher than allowable concentrations must be disposed of as a hazardous waste or remediated.

In Pennsylvania, construction and demolition debris should be disposed of in a regular municipal waste landfill. Residual waste landfills do not generally accept construction and demolition waste. Unlike many other states, no construction and demolition landfills that accept only construction and demolition waste are licensed in the state.

Contact Info

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

400 Market Street

Post Office Box 8471

Harrisburg, PA 17105-8471

Phone: 717-783-2300

Fax: 717-787-1904

E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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