Hazardous materials investigation, sampling, & documentation

Hazardous Materials (HazMat) investigations identify potential contamination at construction sites. Results of the investigations are documented in project documents and inform construction contracts.

The HazMat program within Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has specialists qualified to conduct investigations. You may use on-call consultants to complete sampling activities when in-house resources are unavailable.

Find information below to help you prepare your project for construction:

Discipline report

A Hazardous Materials Discipline Report assesses the project corridor for potential contamination and supports NEPA/SEPA (National/State Environmental Policy Act) documentation. Review the Environmental commitments & compliance page for information on incorporting these into the appropriate project documents. The report must be project specific and identify and evaluate known or potentially contaminated sites that may:

  • Affect the environment during construction
  • Create significant construction impacts
  • Incur cleanup liability to the department

Refer to the following documents for direction when writing a right size discipline report.

Site assessments

WSDOT's policy when conducting Phase II Environmental Site Assessments is to follow the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E 1903 Standard Practice to the extent practical. Per the ASTM standard, field sampling and report writing must be performed by or under the direct guidance of an  Environmental Professional (pdf 88 kb). WSDOT employees should contact the WSDOT library for access to the ASTM standards. 

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

When conducting a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment for WSDOT, follow ASTM E 1527. WSDOT employees should contact the WSDOT library for access to the ASTM standards. 

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA) evaluates the potential for contamination to be present on or adjacent to a single property, and concludes whether or not additional investigation is necessary. WSDOT completes Phase I ESAs for properties that may be substantially contaminated prior to acquisition in order to meet “All Appropriate Inquiry” as defined by the EPA. This assessment also ensures that WSDOT qualifies for one of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) defenses to limit cleanup liability and potentially recover future cleanup costs.

Phase II Environmental Site Assessment

WSDOT typically conducts Phase II ESAs (on-site) prior to acquisition and construction. If your site requires a Phase II ESA, contact the HazMat program for assistance.

A Phase II ESA is limited field investigation conducted prior to acquisition and construction to characterize the nature and extent of any contamination. A Phase II investigation is undertaken based on the findings of a HazMat Discipline Report or a Phase I ESA.

Use information from previous reports plans to develop the field sampling plan. Develop a clear statement of objectives based on the needs of the WSDOT project to guide the data collection.

Geotechnical investigations

Before beginning drilling activities, geotech crews (either WSDOT staff or contractors) need to investigate the historical use of the site to determine if subsurface contamination could be encountered.

If there is a potential of encountering hazardous materials, be sure to complete all necessary preplanning to protect the field crew and comply with all environmental regulations, including required personal protective equipment (PPE) and disposal of contaminated drill cuttings.

Refer to the following procedural documents to ensure geotechnical borings are properly managed:

Standard specifications and special provisions

WSDOT has Standard Specifications to detail how to handle hazardous materials issues on-site. For certain projects, WSDOT may write supplementary special provisions that the contractor must follow in addition to the Standard Specifications.