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In the United States, hazardous wastes are subject to regulations mandated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Every month, we provide clear, in-depth guidance on a different aspect of the RCRA regulations. The information presented here is an excerpt from McCoy’s RCRA Unraveled, 2018 Edition.

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LDR Requirements Apply at the Point of Generation

Land disposal restrictions (LDR) requirements attach to a hazardous waste at its point of generation. The practical implication of this arrangement is that after a waste is generated, it must meet treatment standards prior to disposal; the LDR dilution and storage prohibitions are in effect from the point of generation, as are any other requirements imposed by the Part 148/268 regulations. Even if a hazardous waste is rendered nonhazardous subsequent to the point of generation, the treatment standards attached at the point of generation and must be satisfied prior to land disposal. Case Study 1 summarizes the point of generation for LDR purposes.

Case Study 1

A review of all of the activities that occur at the point of generation may be helpful:

  1. The generator of any solid waste is required to determine if that waste is hazardous. Only wastes that are RCRA hazardous at the point of generation are subject to the LDR program. EPA has clarified that generators can determine if their wastes must be treated to meet LDR treatment standards (before they can be land disposed) at the same time as they make hazardous waste determinations. [§268.7(a)(1), April 4, 2006; 71 FR 16872]

For example, a generator could make a single request to a laboratory to perform analytical testing to determine 1) whether a sample of its waste is hazardous, 2) if it meets LDR treatment standards for primary waste codes, and 3) any underlying hazardous constituents.

  1. The generator assigns the appropriate waste code(s) to the waste. EPA has clarified that generators can determine each waste code applicable to a hazardous waste [in order to determine the applicable treatment standard(s)] at the same time as they make hazardous waste determinations. [§268.9(a), April 4, 2006; 71 FR 16872]
  2. The generator determines if the waste falls into any “subcategories” established under the LDR program. Only a few wastes have subcategories. For example, there are four subcategories for D008 lead-containing wastes: 1) radioactive high-level wastes generated during the reprocessing of fuel rods, 2) radioactive lead solids, 3) lead-acid batteries, and 4) all other wastes that exhibit the toxicity characteristic for lead.
  3. The generator classifies the waste according to its treatability group (i.e., wastewater or nonwastewater). These two terms are defined for LDR purposes in §268.2.
  4. From the table of treatment standards (in §268.40), the generator determines if a specified treatment method (e.g., combustion) applies to the waste. If a specified method is identified, the method attaches to the waste at the point of generation and continues in force until the waste is treated by that method.

A practical implication of this provision is that mixing different hazardous wastes may have unanticipated consequences. For example, if a waste having only concentration-based treatment standards is mixed with a waste having “combustion” as the specified method, the entire mixture must now be combusted prior to land disposal.

  1. The LDR storage prohibition attaches to the waste.
  2. The dilution prohibition attaches to the waste.
  3. For some characteristic wastes, underlying hazardous constituents must be identified at the point of generation. This topic will be discussed in a subsequent Compliance Corner.

A few examples will hopefully clarify point of generation for LDR purposes.

How does the change-in-treatability-group principle apply to residues from treating listed wastes?

The change-in-treatability-group principle does apply to residues from treating most listed wastes. However, such residues are typically also listed under the derived-from rule and thus remain subject to treatment standards for the new treatability group.

For example, if F001 spent solvent wastewater is combusted, the resulting ash (a newly generated waste) is also F001 under the derived-from rule. The ash must meet the treatment standard appropriate to its treatability group (F001 nonwastewater). [RO 14448]

A complication to the foregoing discussion occurs for wastes that are listed solely because they exhibit the characteristic of ignitability, corrosivity, or reactivity. According to a May 16, 2001 rule [66 FR 27266], residues from treating these wastes are not listed if they do not exhibit a characteristic. In the case of F003 spent solvent wastewaters that are combusted (F003 was listed for ignitability only), the ash would not be F003 under the May 16, 2001 rule if it doesn’t exhibit any characteristic. However, the preamble to this rule stated: “Wastes that are characteristic at the point of generation and then are subsequently decharacterized are still subject to LDR requirements.” [66 FR 27269] This implies that the F003-derived ash must also meet the treatment standard appropriate to its treatability group (F003 nonwastewater).

EPA clarified in the same rule (in the same paragraph) that when a waste has been listed solely because it exhibits a characteristic of ignitability, corrosivity, and/or reactivity, and that waste does not exhibit any characteristic at its point of generation, then that waste is not subject to the LDR requirements (because it wasn’t hazardous at its point of generation).

The only way to make sense of the foregoing guidance is to conclude that the change-in-treatability-group principle does not apply to ICR-only listed wastes when they are not managed in CWA or CWA-equivalent systems or Class I underground injection wells.

At the point of generation, environmental media (e.g., soil) is determined to be a hazardous waste under the contained-in policy. If the media is treated and then determined to no longer contain hazardous waste (i.e., a no-longer-contains determination has been made by EPA or the state), is it still subject to the LDR requirements?

Yes. LDR requirements attach at the point of generation. Therefore, even if a no-longer-contains determination is obtained subsequent to that point, the LDR requirements still apply. [RO 11948]

An electroplating facility generates wastewater treatment sludge that meets the F006 listing description. Subsequent to its generation, the facility submits a delisting petition to EPA and is successful in getting the sludge delisted per §260.22. Must the generator comply with the LDR standards before land disposing the delisted waste?

Yes. The facility must comply with LDR treatment standards before land disposing the delisted waste, because the standards attached at the point of generation of the hazardous waste. Although a delisted waste may be managed as nonhazardous, a hazardous waste that is generated and subsequently delisted is subject to Part 268 requirements before disposal. Conversely, if the delisting is granted prior to generation, no LDR requirements would apply because the waste is not hazardous at its point of generation. [RO 14699; see also December 1, 2011; 76 FR 74714]

A facility operator plans to excavate and dispose soil that he/she knows is contaminated with listed waste due to facility operations that occurred in the 1970s (prior to promulgation of the RCRA regulations). Because the concentrations of contaminants are very low, a state issues a no-longer-contains determination for the soil when it is first generated. Do any LDR requirements apply?

No. If a no-longer-contains determination is obtained when the soil is first generated, LDRs do not apply because the soil is not hazardous at its point of generation. [§268.49(a)]

A waste is generated in Canada that would be hazardous for lead (D008) in the United States. This waste is decharacterized in Canada and then exported to the United States for disposal. Do any LDR requirements apply?

No. If the waste is not hazardous at the point it enters the United States, it is not subject to LDR requirements. [RO 14496]


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Considerable care has been exercised in preparing this document; however, McCoy and Associates, Inc. makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with the publication of this information. McCoy and Associates, Inc. expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state, or municipal law or regulation with which this information may conflict. McCoy and Associates, Inc. does not undertake any duty to ensure the continued accuracy of this information.

This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.