April 15, 2019

Groundwater Monitoring and CCR Unit Closure Requirements Clarified

New RCRA Online documents 14901, 14902, 14903, and 14904 clarify groundwater monitoring and unit closure/retrofitting requirements in the 2015 coal combustion residues (CCR) rule. [80 FR 21302] Recall that the CCR rule created Part 257, Subpart D and established more-stringent management standards for CCR generated from the combustion of coal at electric utilities. Although these regulations are not part of the RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste program, they establish federally required design, operating, monitoring, and closure standards under the RCRA Subtitle D nonhazardous waste provisions.

Because CCR often contain hazardous constituents, a significant portion of the updated CCR management is tied to groundwater monitoring. There are two different groundwater monitoring provisions—detection monitoring in §257.94 and assessment monitoring in §257.95—each with their own set of constituents to be monitored. In the new guidance, EPA provides clarity on its expectations for compliance with these sections.

Furthermore, the RO documents clarify requirements for closing/retrofitting CCR units under §257.102, decontaminating CCR units under §257.102(c), infiltration of liquid into CCR units under §257.102(d), and background groundwater quality under §257.91(a).


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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.