Review Articles

CCR rule technical correction

On November 12, 2020, EPA finalized a rule allowing facilities to request approval to operate an existing coal combustion residues (CCR) surface impoundment with an alternate liner. [85 FR 72506] You can read our discussion of this rule in a previous article. The agency issued minor corrections to the rule on December 14, 2020 [85 FR 80626], which reference withdrawal of the decision on the alternate source demonstration.

CCR ANPRM comment period extended

On October 14, 2020, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for legacy coal combustion residues (CCR) surface impoundments. Our previous article gives the details. The agency is extending the public comment period for this ANPRM by an additional 60 days, through February 12, 2021. [85 FR 80718]

Latest regulatory agenda maintains CCR focus

The 2020 fall regulatory agenda is now available. Within the RCRA program, EPA plans to continue work on regulating coal combustion residues (CCR) and improving the e-manifest system. Under CERCLA, the agency is looking to regulate PFAS. READ MORE

Beneficial use of CCR

On December 22, 2020, EPA made new information and data available related to its coal combustion residues (CCR) beneficial use definition and accumulation provisions. The agency’s beneficial use and piles rule was proposed a year and a half ago, but it isn’t ready to be finalized. Instead, EPA is seeking public input based on new information gathered via utility CCR websites and stakeholder meetings. This is the agency’s second look at CCR beneficial use and piles after a 2018 DC Circuit Court remand. READ MORE

Incremental increase for RCRA civil penalties

EPA is required by law to make an annual adjustment to the maximum RCRA civil penalties. The 2021 adjustments were made in December, resulting in another ratcheting up of the penalties. While there are no surprises, we encourage you to review the cost of noncompliance for the new year. READ MORE

PFAS destruction and disposal

As required by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, EPA released interim guidance on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) destruction and disposal. Although PFAS perform useful functions in certain products, they also bioaccumulate in the environment and can cause adverse human health effects. EPA’s guidance provides information on feasible and appropriate PFAS destruction and disposal technologies and also identifies areas for future research and development. READ MORE

Puerto Rico regs a fuego

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has a unique position within the USA, and its RCRA program is also unique. EPA Region 2 administers the federal portion of the RCRA regulations via its Caribbean Environmental Protection Division. In addition, Puerto Rico has its own regulations administered by its Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. So, complying with the hazardous waste program can get a little messy. If you are lucky enough to work on this tropical paradise, you may need some help navigating its hazardous waste regulations. We have gathered and clarified the rules in our new white paper: “Puerto Rico’s Hazardous Waste Program.”

Another chance to improve e-manifest

The e-manifest advisory board will hold another public meeting March 2–4, 2021. Announced in a December 29, 2020 Federal Register notice [85 FR 85631], the purpose of the meeting is for EPA to seek the board’s consultation and recommendations regarding e-manifest program priorities and user fees for FY2022 and 2023. This public meeting will be conducted virtually. Registration is required to attend and/or provide oral comment during the meeting. Please refer to the e-manifest advisory board website for information on how to register as a public audience attendee and/or oral commenter.

2021 RCRA

The new lineup is here and our .VIRTUAL training format continues into 2021. Consider joining us for our five-day RCRA seminar to be held February 8-12, 2021. Based upon your feedback, we’ve retooled the virtual seminar hours to make days Monday through Thursday about one hour shorter and we’ve “reflowed” the modules to fill-in Friday to a full (not half) day. Receive updated course materials, participate and speak to our presenters via live questions, work case studies, and enhance your RCRA insight. Register now.

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Modified 2021 .VIRTUAL Agenda

Resolute Sherpa

Since it is now 2021, purchasing a Sherpa may fulfill your New Year’s resolution! No doubt, it’s a powerful tool that reduces the time you spend finding the compliance answers you need. Sherpa includes the 2021 Editions of RCRA Reference and RCRA Unraveled, as well as 18 interactive flowcharts, over 500 examples from EPA guidance, more than 50,000 hyperlinks, every RCRA rule since 1978, and 1,515 RCRA Online documents—all connected through a powerful search engine.

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CAA has landed

Yep. It’s here. Our first-ever Clean Air Act.VIRTUAL seminar will take place March 23–25. As environmental pros know, CAA is complex, and facility and permit-driven. Our seminar focuses on applicability determinations and clarifying how the programs fit together—a form of “CAA pattern recognition.” And the course materials include valuable tools and tables that we’ll teach you how to use. You’ll walk away from our seminar with a holistic understanding of the air regs. Register today.

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CAA 3-Day Agenda

New non-waste fuels: shredded autos and appliances

The latest nonhazardous secondary material (NHSM) determination from EPA is for auto shredder residue (ASR). [RO 14937] NHSM determinations via 40 CFR Part 241 are important because they impact which set of Clean Air Act regulations apply when combusting that material. In this instance, ASR is considered a non-waste fuel under §241.3(b)(4). You can read about the details of how EPA makes such determinations in a previous article.

CCR liners hear alternative music

The next set of regulations in a long line of CCR rules pertains to an alternate liner demonstration. Effective December 14, 2020, EPA’s final rule creates a process allowing certain CCR surface impoundments to continue operation rather than close. The rule finalizes only one portion of a four-part March 2020 proposal, so additional final rules are expected. READ MORE

Don’t store unwanted material indefinitely

Table 1 of §261.2 is what we affectionately call “the table with the asterisks.” A dash at the intersection of “commercial chemical products” and “speculative accumulation” generally means there is no clock running on the storage, use, or recycling of a raw material or product at a facility. However, that does not mean these materials may be stored onsite in perpetuity. Timeless EPA guidance provides clarification. READ MORE


Last month, EPA released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to expand its coal combustion residues (CCR) rule. While inactive surface impoundments at inactive facilities were exempt from regulation in the original 2015 CCR rule, a 2018 court decision required EPA to bring them under federal control. The agency is using this ANPRM to collect information on legacy CCR surface impoundments to assist in the development of regulations for these units. Comments and data are being accepted until December 14, 2020. READ MORE

New procedures for managing guidance

EPA’s rule for managing guidance documents was finalized in October 2020. This administrative rule impacts not only how the agency develops guidance, but also how the public can petition for its modification, withdrawal, or reinstatement. EPA cites three benefits of this new rule: 1) guidance is developed with appropriate review, 2) accessibility and transparency are provided to the public, and 3) significant guidance documents are developed with public participation. READ MORE

Psst. PFAS guidance.

EPA’s current regulatory agenda includes proposing a rule to designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as CERCLA hazardous substances. In the meantime, the agency has made interim recommendations on cleaning up groundwater contaminated with two of these chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonate. The guidance applies to federal cleanup activities under CERCLA and RCRA corrective action. READ MORE

Streamlined signing for e-manifests

Although the e-manifest system has been in use for more than two years, e-manifests (fully electronic and hybrid) represent less than 0.5 percent of the approximately two million manifests EPA receives annually. Responding to input from the e-Manifest Advisory Board, the agency will no longer require generators and transporters to go through the CROMERR validation process for their e-manifest signatures. READ MORE

Rip van Guidance

Although twenty years old, recently released RO 14932 is still relevant. The 2000 guidance reaffirms EPA’s position from 1985, noting that sulfuric acid from a smelter’s metallurgical acid plant is a co-product, rather than a waste. If you are not working in the metal smelting industry, why should you care? Because a material designated by RCRA as a co-product, even if it is contaminated with heavy metals in excess of their toxicity characteristic levels, is still a nonwaste.

The next decade of corrective action

EPA’s RCRA corrective action (CA) program is the mechanism the agency uses to require the cleanup of RCRA-permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. Since 1984, this program has resulted in the cleanup of thousands of sites throughout the country. Many of these facilities have spent millions of dollars to achieve their CA objectives. On September 1, 2020, EPA announced the program’s goals for the next ten years. READ MORE

State authorization of RCRA rules

A lot has changed since RCRA first started 40 years ago, and complying with new rules can be challenging. How do you know if the state you operate in has adopted a new rule or if the rule even needs to be adopted? If you can’t find the answer on your state environmental agency’s website, you can always use EPA’s authorization status tracker. The document includes the adoption and authorization status for rules promulgated under the base RCRA program and HSWA authority. READ MORE

That’s the fact sheets, Jack

Though a few years old, EPA’s generator improvements rule has been adopted by only about half of the RCRA-authorized states. Consequently, many generators are still getting used to the new requirements and are looking for a little guidance. To assist facilities, EPA updated its RCRA compliance fact sheets for both very small and large quantity generators. READ MORE

CCR closure rule finalized after 120,000-plus comments

The first final rule of 2020 dealing with the management of coal combustion residues (CCR) has been promulgated. Effective September 28, 2020, this rule finalizes several requirements for CCR unit closure and also addresses aspects of a 2018 court vacatur. We break down the five significant components of this CCR unit closure rule in our article. READ MORE

Waste FAQs relocated again

Recently, we noted that EPA had moved its waste FAQs database. As of August 2020, the Waste—Frequent Questions database has yet another new home. Most, if not all, of the guidance from the old waste FAQs database is in the new location, and there is still an option to submit a question. However, one function is missing from the new site; there is no longer an option to search through the entire database.

New non-waste fuel determination

EPA recently weighed in on another Part 241 non-waste fuel determination. The latest determination is for “waste” paper generated at certain pulp and paper facilities. Though the Part 241 regulations fall outside of the hazardous waste program, such determinations impact CAA compliance requirements. READ MORE

Appealing permits

In August 2020, EPA finalized an administrative rule that streamlines procedures during the appeal of various environmental permits. Challenging a RCRA, NPDES, SWDA, or CAA permit means a stint in front of the Environmental Appeals Board. The rule modifies many provisions governing how the board operates and grants the EPA Administrator a good deal of power regarding legal interpretations. READ MORE

Manifest signature alternatives policy extended

In May 2020, EPA released a memo providing flexibility regarding signatures on paper manifests due to impacts from COVID-19. We wrote about the impacts previously. In August, the agency released an additional memo, new RO 14936, which extends this flexibility until November 30, 2020. The memo contains three changes from the original policy: 1) shortening the required phrasing in Block 15, 2) changing the EPA policy reference in the generator’s signature substitute, and 3) removing language referencing the Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy (terminated August 31) regarding recordkeeping.

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