March 14, 2017

New Guidance for Post-Closure Care Extensions

Land disposal units (landfills, land treatment units, waste piles, and surface impoundments) that leave hazardous waste in place after closure are subject to post-closure care requirements per §§264/265.117. Those sections prescribe maintenance of waste containment system integrity, as well as monitoring and reporting activities. Post-closure care for each hazardous waste management unit begins after completion of unit closure and normally continues for 30 years after that date. The regulations provide discretion to the permitting authority to adjust the length of this 30-year post-closure care period.

Many facilities around the country are approaching the end of the initial post-closure care period established in their RCRA permits or post-closure plans. Accordingly, questions have arisen about how to evaluate conditions at these facilities to determine whether the post-closure care period needs to be adjusted (i.e., extended) or whether the initial 30-year post-closure care period is protective. To assist permitting authorities in answering these questions, EPA has recently issued the following guidance: “Guidelines for Evaluating the Post-Closure Care Period for Hazardous Waste Disposal Facilities under Subtitle C of RCRA,” December 15, 2016.

The guidance is divided into two primary areas:

  1. Criteria to consider for evaluating the post-closure care period, and
  2. Recommended approach for reviewing the end of the unit post-closure care period.

This new document will be of use to both permitting authorities and owners/operators of such land disposal units.


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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.