Soil assessments are normally conducted to either classify the soil as a result of soil forming processes or investigate soil for a specific reason like a possible contamination as a result of contaminating activities. Section 28(1) of the National Environmental Management Act no. 107 of 1998 (NEMA) also places a general duty of care on any person who may cause pollution, to take reasonable measures to prevent such pollution from occurring. Soil quality monitoring is considered to be a measure to exercise this duty of care, since it will aid in establishing the type and concentrations of contaminants emanating from certain activities. Once this is known, measures can be taken to mitigate the sources of pollution.

Soil sampling and analysis can be a direct response to a specific condition contained in a Water Use Licence (WUL), which normally states that soil monitoring must be undertaken (typically on a biannual basis) to evaluate the possible impact of dust suppression on the receiving environment.

It is important to note that when determining your sample locations (e.g. areas under dust suppression), you should include background samples which can be used for comparison purposes.

Soil samples should be taken and preserved in accordance with the general guideline for conducting and handling soil samples, as summarised below:

  • The sample site should be located using a handheld GPS to ensure that sampling localities correspond to the coordinates given;
  • The sampling point should be cleared of all vegetation, stones and other debris to ensure that the sample is not contaminated by foreign materials;
  • Clean and decontaminated sampling tools should be used to obtain the sample;
  • Samples should be taken via a handheld soil auger up to a depth of 1.5m below the soil surface; and
  • Samples should be stored in a laboratory acquired container and submitted to the SANAS accredited for analysis
Dry and wet season assessments are normally required with the samples being analysed at a SANAS accredited laboratory. The Norms and Standards for the Remediation of Contaminated Land and Soil Quality in the Republic of South Africa (GNR 467, 2013) can be used as a guideline for the soil sampling analysis to determine possible contamination of soils identified at the specific operations. Once the results have been received they can be compared with the background samples and the Soil Screening Values 1 (SSV1) as contained within the National Norms and Standards for the Remediation of Contaminated Land and Soil Quality (NEM:WA, 2008). A report is then produced which can and is often required to be submitted to the competent authority.

Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd. (ENVASS) offers a wide range of Environmental Monitoring and Specialist services, including soil assessments, which can be utilised at your operations. If you may require a proposal for these services please do not hesitate to contact our highly qualified and experienced specialists at ENVASS on 012 460 9768 or
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