November 13, 2014

POG for Waste Generated at WTE Facilities

Waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities (also known as resource recovery facilities) are combustion units that burn municipal waste to produce electricity and/or heat energy. These facilities use sophisticated air pollution control equipment, such as baghouses, to remove combustion ash from flue gas and minimize air emissions. In 1995, EPA clarified that the point of generation (POG) of combustion ash from WTE facilities is the point at which ash exits the combustion building following the combustion and air pollution control processes. [60 FR 6666, RO 11901]

How would the 1995 interpretation described above apply to the following situation: used filters (containing captured combustion ash) removed from the WTE facility baghouse, which could exhibit the toxicity characteristic for lead and cadmium, are fed into the combustion boiler without a hazardous waste determination. In RO 14846, EPA noted that such used filters “are still ‘constructively’ within the resource recovery facility and thus, would remain excluded from Subtitle C control. Thus, materials transferred to the waste combustion unit as soon as possible have not left the resource recovery facility. Therefore the operator does not have to determine whether the filters become subject to hazardous waste regulations.”

The agency went on to explain that the combustion unit in some WTE facilities is not housed within a building. Rather, the combustion unit and the pollution control equipment are in a proximate area that “constructively” constitutes a combustion building. Therefore, ash handled in these areas would be considered management in a combustion building, not triggering a hazardous waste determination. Lastly, EPA noted (as always) that states may have more-stringent requirements than those discussed in this guidance.


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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.