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What is Urban Fill?

There are numerous Federal, State, and local definitions for urban or historic fill depending on the property location and regulatory program governing the site.   

The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), which is responsible for classifying and mapping US soils, states that soils in urban areas can be divided into two general types: “natural soils,” which formed in material naturally deposited or weathered from the underlying bedrock, and “anthropogenic soils,”  (i.e., man-made), which formed in human-deposited material or fill.  The NRCS cites the following examples of fill material in urban soils:

  1. Natural soil materials that have been moved around by humans
  2. Construction debris
  3. Materials dredged from waterways
  4. Coal ash
  5. Municipal solid waste
  6. A combination of any or all of the above

The NRCS does not comment on specific contaminants in urban soil; however, it is important to recognize that “debris” may also include materials from demolition of fire damaged structures. Similar to coal ash and other kinds of ash, these types of materials typically include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are semi-volatile organic compounds that are the product of incomplete combustion.   Although specific contaminants are subsequently discussed in more detail in this paper, this is noteworthy since all of the following definitions reference ash and/or PAHs (also sometimes referred to as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons).

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

US- and Canada-Issued Insurance Policies

In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
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