Soil Management Progam

Bare soil in yards and gardens is a source of dust and may contain lead.

Ensure your yard is healthy and safe.

Soil Management Program

For most people, the risks are low. Bare soils may increase exposure to metals especially to children who are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead. The Soil Management Program consists of:

Soil Testing

Soil samples from yards are collected and analyzed for lead, cadmium, arsenic, zinc and other metals. 

Ground Cover Evaluation

The amount of bare soil in a yard is evaluated.

Lawn Care & Remediation

Ground cover improvements to cover bare soil or removing soil and replacing with clean fill and re-landscaping.

Boy Digging in Soil - Trail

How does the soil management program work?

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TO BEGIN, sign up for the program by completing our online form. The Home & Garden office will contact you for next steps.  →

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Priority is given to homes with children. Our aim is to test soil at all residential properties. →

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Collecting the samples takes half an hour.

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Sign up by completing this online form and the Home & Garden office will contact you for next steps.

Children prioritised icon

Priority is given to homes with children. Our aim is to test soil at all residential properties.

soil sampling icon

Collecting the samples takes half an hour.

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If prioritized for soil management, the Home & Garden office will contact you for next steps.

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Home & Garden reviews and prioritizes each property based on the age of children, the quality of ground cover and lead levels in soil. Results are mailed.

soil sample tested

Once soil samples are collected they are analyzed and a report is written.

soil sample tested

Once soil samples are collected they are analyzed and a report is written.

soil results icon

Home & Garden reviews and prioritizes each property based on the age of children, the quality of ground cover and lead levels in soil. Results are mailed.

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If prioritized for soil management, the Home & Garden office will contact you for next steps.

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First, a plan is developed with the property owners, contractor and Home & Garden representative.

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Next, the work is scheduled. It takes about 2 weeks to complete once it starts.  →

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Lastly, a completion form is signed. Your yard is now ready to enjoy and maintain.

Do you have a vegetable garden? Vegetable gardens are also prioritized.

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Soil Management FAQs

What is the Soil Management Program?

  • The soil management program includes soil testing and, in qualifying yards, replacement of soil or improvements to ground cover on a prioritized basis.
  • Given the large number of households in these areas, assessments are prioritized based on the presence of children under 12 within areas that are known to have the highest levels of lead in the soil, such as those neighbourhoods closest to the operation.
  • This program has been in place since 2007 and was expanded in 2019.
  • The program is overseen by the Trail Area Health and Environment Committee, a sub-committee of the City of Trail, with government, community and industry members.
  • Teck is the responsible party for annual Soil Management Plans under the direction of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as per the Contaminated Sites Regulation of the Environmental Management Act.

Why is a soil management plan necessary?

  • Metallurgical facilities have been operating in Trail for well over a century. Historical emissions from these facilities have resulted in the addition of metals, including lead, into the soil in the surrounding area. As a result, soil in the Trail area is likely to have metals above natural background levels and regulatory standards.
  • Teck is the responsible party for the Soil Management Plan under the direction of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy as per the Contaminated Sites Regulation of the Environmental Management Act.
  • Teck is working with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to develop and seek approval for a long-term soil management plan called a Wide Area Remediation Plan. Once that plan is drafted, a full public consultation will take place prior to approval and implementation. Annual Soil Management Plans are an interim step focused on highest risk properties.
  • The Wide Area Remediation Plan will continue to build on the work we have been doing to address historical soil impacts in Trail and the surrounding area.
  • In recent years, major improvements have been made to lower metal emissions from Teck Trail Operations, resulting in improved air quality. This means that Teck is not adding as many metals such as lead into the soil. We can now focus more on addressing the historical impacts to soil from past emissions.

How do you plan to address lead in the soil?

  • Measures to manage exposure to lead and other metals in the soil may include the replacement of soil in yards and/or gardens in qualifying yards. In other cases, improvements to ground cover, such as planting grass, may be made as an interim measure.
  • Soil testing is the first step. Our programs are voluntary so it is your choice if you would like your soil to be tested.

Is it safe to eat vegetables grown in Trail?

THEP is currently undertaking research to be able to answer this question. Plants can take up lead and other metals from soil. 

To reduce risk, always peel root crops and wash vegetables and fruits from homegrown produce before consuming, amend the soil with nutrients like manure and compost, and wash hands after gardening.

Garden soil in Trail is tested and prioritized for remediation as needed. Sign up online. 

Can you tell me more about your prioritization criteria?

  • Soil testing is offered to all interested households with priority in areas that are known to have the highest lead levels in the soil, such as those closest to the operation. Priority is also given to households that have children under 12.
  • Following soil testing, three criteria are used to determine priorities for soil management: the presence of children under 12 years of age, the presence of ground cover, and lead levels in soil.

How is the presence of children defined?

In the annual Soil Management Plans, priority will be given to properties where children under 12 live, or visit regularly. This would include where children are present two or more days each week for periods of three hours or more, or a total of 60 hours or more each year.

What are the regulatory standards that this plan is based on?

  • Annual Soil Management Plans are interim plans, conducted under the direction of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as per the Contaminated Sites Regulation of the Environmental Management Act.
  • Teck is working with the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Strategy to develop and seek approval for a long-term soil management plan, called a Wide Area Remediation Plan. Once that plan is drafted a full public consultation will take place prior to approval and implementation.
  • The Wide Area Remediation Plan will continue to build on the work we have been doing to address historical soil impacts in Trail and the surrounding area.

Why are you looking at a wider area than in the past?

  • The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has defined an area for a future Wide Area Remediation Plan called the Teck, Trail Environmental Management Area (EMA). An EMA is a specific area that contains specified contaminants from one specific source, covers a larger geographic area and parcels within the site would likely be contaminated with one or more of the specified contaminants. For more information, please see the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Fact Sheet on Wide Area Sites.
  • The EMA is being used as the subject area for the annual Soil Management Plans and includes Trail, Rivervale, Warfield, Montrose, south Castlegar, areas of RDKB Area A and B, areas of RDCK Area J and the edges of Rossland.
  • As would be expected, metal levels in soil are higher closer to the operation, and decline to near natural background concentrations toward periphery areas. As such, properties in those periphery areas may require no action.
  • Given the large number of properties in the area, our immediate focus will continue to be on those properties that are expected to have higher levels of metals in the soil, such as those nearest the smelter.

Does this just apply to residential properties or are playgrounds, daycares and schools also included?

  • Soil assessment and prioritized soil management also applies to playgrounds, daycares and schools.
  • Generally speaking, ground cover is very good in parks and playgrounds. If you notice poor ground cover at parks or playgrounds please contact the City of Trail and/or the THEP Community Program Office.
  • Parks and playgrounds in the wider Trail area are included in the soil assessment testing, and this data is used to identify any work required.

Why are you now focusing on properties with children up to 12 years old?

  • The prioritization of children under 12 allows us to focus on the age group that is the most likely to be exposed to metals in soil. Older children in this age group have a higher tolerance to exposure, while younger children under 6 years of age have lower tolerance to exposure. Our prioritization approach reflects these tolerance levels.
  • It is important to note that our soil management program is just one aspect of the Trail Area Health and Environment Program. Other existing components of the program will continue, including Healthy Homes and Family Health, focusing on families with children up to 3 years old, and Lead Safe Renovation for do-it-yourself renovators.

When did the expanded soil management program begin?

  • Expansion began in 2019 and close to 300 properties had their soil tested and 550 had their ground cover evaluated.
  • In 2019, 102 properties received work including 11 properties receiving yard improvements and 91 yards were fully remediated (compared to 58 properties in 2018).
  • In 2020, a similar number of properties will receive work as compared to 2019.

Who is paying for soil management?

  • There is no cost to the landowner for this work to be undertaken. All soil assessment and improvement work is coordinated and paid for by the Trail Area Health and Environment Program, through funding provided by Teck.
  • The program is overseen by the Trail Area Health and Environment Committee, a sub-committee of the City of Trail, with government, community and industry members.
  • Teck is the responsible party for the Soil Management Program under the direction of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as per the Contaminated Sites Regulation of the Environmental Management Act.
  • Teck Metals has invested approximately $5 million toward the soil management program this year alone as part of its continued commitment to healthy homes and gardens in the Trail area.
  • It is expected that these programs will continue for many years to come.

What should I do if I want my garden soil tested?

  • Sign up online to have your soil tested.
  • If you have a vegetable garden, you can also sign up online. Vegetable gardens remain within our priority focus soil testing and remediation.

Keep your yard healthy and safe.
Soil management is one way to reduce exposure to metals in your home and yard environment.
Ways to minimize exposure are:

Cover Soil

Cover bare soil areas in your yard by improving lawn areas, mulching gardens or covering exposed areas with landscape fabric and rock;

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Follow good hygiene practices, including washing hands after playing outside and before eating;

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Take shoes off at the door and use floor mats at entryways;

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Vacuum, wet dust and mop frequently; and

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Hose off decks and patios and wipe down outdoor play equipment and furniture.

Have you had your soil tested?