Proposed Changes to PA Management of Fill Policy Could Adversely Impact Completed Projects and Future Availability of Clean Fill

January 25, 2016
Michael M. Meloy, Esq.
MGKF Special Alert - Forecast 2016

On December 20, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) issued proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s Management of Fill Policy (also known as the Clean Fill Policy).  In particular, PADEP proposed to revise numeric standards used to evaluate whether fill materials qualify as “clean fill” and to alter the sampling protocols that are to be followed.  In many instances, the proposed numeric standards are lower than the current numeric standards.  Changing the numeric standards for “clean fill” has broad consequences for projects that have already been completed in reliance on the existing standard and projects that are in the planning phases.  Certain of the proposed numeric standards are so low that it will be difficult to find materials in many portions of Pennsylvania that qualify as “clean fill.”  PADEP received extensive public comments on the proposed changes and has been considering how to proceed.  It is likely that PADEP will finalize changes to the Management of Fill Policy in 2016.  These changes will have significant importance for infrastructure projects, land development projects, brownfields projects, utility projects, and any other projects that involve earth disturbance activities.