WAC Testing

Providing WAC testing services as part of our specialist asbestos contaminated land and soil service

If the project that you are overseeing entails the management of land contaminated with asbestos, it is important for you to be aware of the various legal processes and requirements involved – including Waste Acceptance Criteria testing, otherwise known as WAC testing. This is something that Oracle Solutions carries out as part of our specialist asbestos contaminated land and soil service.

What is Waste Acceptance Criteria?

The Waste Acceptance Criteria, or WAC, originated as part of the UK government’s drive to reduce dependence on landfill as a disposal option, as well as to minimise landfill’s environmental and human health impact.

These concerns have led to the introduction of increasingly stringent regulatory procedures over the years. The Landfill Regulations (2005) and Waste Framework Directive (WFD) (2008/98/EC) put in place a statutory requirement for waste to be categorised and meet specific Waste Acceptance Criteria, before it is disposed of at a landfill site.

For the waste producer, there is a ‘Duty of Care’ to ensure the waste is categorised. Meanwhile, a landfill operator must be satisfied that a ‘Basic Categorisation’ has been properly completed before it accepts the waste.

What are the classifications of waste?

Before WAC testing can be performed on soil waste, a ‘waste classification test’ will need to be done. Such waste materials can be classified as either hazardous or non-hazardous.

The Environment Agency’s technical guidance, ‘Waste Classification (WM3, 1st edition 2015)’, came into force on 1st July 2015, and outlines the classification requirements. It also provides the basis for the methodology that should be used to ensure compliance with the regulations.

This waste classification process focuses on the composition of the material, and determines the concentrations of the hazardous substances in the material. Whether or not contaminated soil (excavated soil) is determined to be hazardous waste, depends on whether the hazardous substances in the soil exceed certain thresholds.

What is a WAC test for soil?

The Waste Acceptance Criteria became mandatory in 2005, when the Landfill Regulations were introduced. WAC testing is undertaken to determine how soil will behave if it is buried at landfill.

There are several classifications of landfill site, depending on whether they can accept hazardous, non-hazardous or inert wastes. Waste can therefore only be accepted at a landfill if it meets the Waste Acceptance Criteria for that particular class of landfill.

Solids and leachate testing are carried out in the WAC test to assess the class of landfill that the waste in question can be accepted at.

If the soil waste has been classified as non-hazardous and the waste producer wishes to send it to inert landfill rather than non-hazardous landfill – which may be desirable due to inert landfill being cheaper than non-hazardous landfill – an ‘inert WAC test’ will be needed to determine whether it can be accepted for inert landfill. This particular criteria testing will focus on contaminant leaching and other characteristics. If the waste fails this test, it will have to go to non-hazardous landfill.

Alternatively, if the waste has been classified as hazardous, it will have to undergo a ‘hazardous WAC test’ to determine whether it can be accepted to hazardous landfill. Hazardous soil waste that fails this test will need to be treated until it fulfils the necessary criteria for hazardous landfill.

Is WAC testing mandatory?

Waste classified as non-hazardous doesn’t require WAC testing unless disposal at an inert landfill is being considered; otherwise, it can be sent to a non-hazardous landfill. If, however, the material has been classified as hazardous, WAC testing will be needed to demonstrate that it meets the acceptance levels for hazardous landfill or stable non-reactive hazardous (SNRL) landfill.

What does WAC testing entail for asbestos-contaminated land?

There are generally three stages of Waste Acceptance Criteria testing when it comes to asbestos-contaminated soil waste. The first of these is the soil screening that enables basic identification of the asbestos, followed by gravimetric analysis to determine the percentage of asbestos by weight.
In the event of the determined percentage of asbestos being below 0.1% or the soil sample containing unbounded (loose) asbestos fibres, fibre counting will then usually be carried out.

What has been described above is an Asbestos in Soils Test. This is a completely different test from a WAC Test, as it is only testing for Asbestos contamination. If asbestos contaminated soil is being disposed of from site, although there is a strong argument that asbestos trumps other forms of contaminants, it will still require a WAC Test to determine which landfill it can be accepted at.

Contact Oracle Solutions to learn more about our soil and land contamination service

If you are concerned about possible presence of asbestos contaminated land and soil, then contact Oracle Solutions by calling 0844 2451767 for an in-depth discussion of your requirements. We will be able to offer a free and competitive quote.

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