August 14, 2018

Final Rule on Coal Combustion Residues

On July 30, 2018, EPA finalized revisions to the 2015 coal combustion residues (CCR) rule [83 FR 36435] to satisfy a court mandate. The 2015 CCR rule created the 40 CFR Part 257, Subpart D disposal standards for these wastes. [80 FR 21302] After these provisions were promulgated on April 17, 2015, EPA was taken to court, which ultimately lead to a D.C. Circuit Court opinion on June 14, 2016. [Utility Solid Waste Activities Group et al. v. EPA, Docket No. 15-1219] The court’s decision prompted EPA’s proposed rule on March 15, 2018 (summarized previously) that addressed certain remanded provisions. [83 FR 11584] The July 30, 2018 rule finalizes portions of the proposal as follows:

  1. The permitting authority (EPA or state) is allowed to suspend groundwater monitoring requirements if there is evidence that there is no potential for migration of hazardous constituents to the uppermost aquifer during the active life of the unit and post-closure care.
  2. The permitting authority is also allowed to issue technical certifications in lieu of the current requirement to have professional engineers issue certifications.
  3. The groundwater protection standards (GWPS) are revised for the four constituents in Part 257, Appendix IV without maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). These revised standards are to be used in place of the catch-all background level under §257.95(h)(2).
  4. Closure does not need to be initiated until October 31, 2020 for CCR units closing for cause when 1) the facility has detected a statistically significant increase of a contaminant above the GWPS resulting from an unlined surface impoundment, or 2) the unit is unable to comply with the aquifer location restriction.

Provisions from the March 15, 2018 proposed rule that are not addressed in the July 30, 2018 final rule will be addressed in a subsequent rulemaking action that the agency anticipates it will finalize by the end of 2018.


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