Soil Monitoring

Soil monitoring assesses, prevents or lessens the effects of substances that may potentially harm soil or, water, air and organisms in contact with the soil. In Alberta, soil monitoring for industrial and municipal facilities is regulated under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

Soil monitoring detects and evaluates possible substance release from industrial and municipal facilities to soils and related environments as well as monitoring of historical spills and leaks at plant sites.

Facilities such as sour gas plants, particularly those that recover sulphur, can require soil monitoring. Soil sampling or monitoring may also be required to establish baseline conditions for significant expansions or new plants. However, some facilities (or parts of them) may be exempted from soil monitoring requirements, due to minimal risks in the type of operation, or because engineered controls are in place to protect the soil.

Soil management program

Where soil monitoring reveals contamination in excess of specified limits, a management program is required consisting of a soil monitoring proposal, its implementation and periodic progress reports. The program aims to do the following (as needed):

  • control the contamination source
  • further assess and determine the size of the contaminated area meets remediation objectives authorized by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP)
  • choose appropriate treatment, containment, or disposal technologies
  • implement, monitor and report on the chosen technology
  • sample to verify contaminant removal to target levels

Types of monitored substances

Examples of contaminants that require monitoring include:

  • toxic materials such as petroleum, heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls
  • high levels of low toxicity petroleum products, elemental sulphur, and sodium salts
  • materials that are mobile in the soil and may damage groundwater quality such as some salts, organic solvents, acids, alkaline substances and amines (strong basic substances such as ammonia)

Soil monitoring publications

Soil monitoring procedures are linked to AEP’s soil quality standards. Provincial and federal soil quality criteria and guidelines are constantly being improved as new information becomes available.

Publications applicable to monitoring programs include:

Publications that provide information for contaminants of concern at a variety of industrial activities:


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Updated: Aug 28, 2015