We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries for ENM/VENM soil testing from builders and developers needing to remove soil off site. In simple terms councils want to know that any soil being removed off a site is clean or contaminated and it doesn’t matter if it’s moved to another site or to a landfill tip, council will/may require an ENM/VENM assessment.
For us the ENM/VENM enquiries started in the regions north of Sydney but has now become an issue for builders and cartage firms throughout NSW.
Loads are being stopped and inspected to ensure contractors are meeting their obligations when removing spoil. The fines for not being compliant are not for the fainthearted. If you haven’t come across this requirement yet we wanted to give you some information, so you’re prepared if you’re asked to provide an ENM/VENM assessment.
What is ENM/VENM?
Our Geotechnical Engineer, Dane Dwyer kindly supplied us with the relevant area of the code.
Let’s start with what is VENM, which stands for virgin excavated natural material
The EPA definition is as follows (we have edited it for simplicity)
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) defines virgin excavated natural material (VENM) as:
Natural material (such as clay, gravel, sand, soil or rock fines):
(a) that has been excavated or quarried from areas that are not contaminated with manufactured chemicals, or with process residues, as a result of industrial, commercial, mining or agricultural activities and
(b) that does not contain any sulfidic ores or soils or any other waste
and includes excavated natural material that meets such criteria for virgin excavated natural material as may be approved for the time being pursuant to an EPA Gazettal notice.’ Virgin excavated natural material (VENM) is a waste that has been pre-classified as general solid waste (non-putrescible).
Is there any other waste present?
By definition, VENM cannot contain any other waste, or be ‘made’ from processed soils. Excavated material that has been processed in any way cannot be classified as VENM.
In summary, we feel it is important to raise industry matters with our builders so they can get on the front foot and be well prepared in their building process as well as controlling their costs. We can assist you with VENM/ENM testing as part of your Lot Classification or as a standalone test.
Make sure you’ve factored the cost of ENM/VENM testing into your next build budget.