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Hazardous Waste

Guidance for Remediation Waste Management at Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action Sites

The RCRA regulations are primarily focused on prevention rather than response or cleanup of wastes already released. However, the waste generated from the cleanup of environmental contamination, known as remediation waste, is an important part of the RCRA hazardous waste program, because environmental media contaminated by the release of a hazardous waste often retains the classification of hazardous waste. As opposed to on-going waste management, remediation activities often involve less concentrated wastes, one-time activities, and shorter-term activities. EPA or an authorized state oversees remediation activities.

The regulations regarding remediation wastes are essential to ensure that facilities properly clean up contaminated areas. To provide regulatory flexibility while protecting human health and the environment, EPA updated the Requirements for Management of Hazardous Contaminated Media Rule and issued Amendments to the original Corrective Action Management Units Rule. In addition, EPA issued a series of regulations and policies to address these issues. EPA is working to provide greater flexibility for non-media remediation wastes (such as remedial sludge), address certain statutory permitting provisions, and provide more appropriate treatment requirements for remediation wastes.

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Requirements for the Management of Hazardous Contaminated Media Rule

In order to mitigate the impact of RCRA hazardous waste management standards on the corrective action program, EPA promulgated streamlined regulations that allow the use of alternate remediation waste permits and unit standards. These alternative standards ensure cleanups are fully protective while eliminating some of the regulatory hurdles associated with waste management. For example, the Agency promulgated a modified version of a permit, the Remedial Action Plan (RAP). Unlike the traditional RCRA permit, the RAP is tailored to the needs of a facility that manages remediation waste.

The following documents pertain to the Requirements for Management of Hazardous Contaminated Media (HWIR-Media) rule including the federal register notices for the proposed and final rule as well as associated information requests and supporting materials. This rule addresses the major RCRA Subtitle C management requirements that are considered the biggest causes of problems and delays for cleanups. These requirements include the Land Disposal restrictions (LDRs), Minimum Technological Requirements (MTRs), and RCRA permitting procedures.

Information and Policy Letters Related to the Final Rule
Letter to James P. Snyder, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, from Elizabeth Cotsworth, USEPA re: Clarification of USEPA's Use of Pennsylvania's Comments on the Proposed Hazardous Waste Identification Rule
Letter to Elizabeth Cotsworth, USEPA, from James P. Snyder, Director, Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (DEP) re: the use of Pennsylvania's Comments as Unqualified Support of the Bright Line Option Set Forth in the Proposed Hazardous Waste Rule
Letter to Michael W. Steinberg, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and Douglas H. Green, Piper Marbury, from Fred Hanson, and Timothy Fields, Jr., US EPA re: Issuance of Final HWIR-media Rule
Letter to James P. Snyder, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, from Elizabeth Cotsworth, USEPA re: Clarification of USEPA's Use of Pennsylvania's Comments on the Proposed Hazardous Waste Identification Rule

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Contained-In Policy

In the Requirements for Management of Hazardous Contaminated Media rule, EPA identified the application of three RCRA requirements to remediation wastes as the biggest problems to address: Land Disposal Restrictions (LDRs), Minimum Technological Requirements (MTRs), and permitting. The following Contained-in Policy document is a collection of the various regulations and policies that EPA used to address these problems.

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Corrective Action Management Units (CAMUs) and Temporary Units (TUs)

CAMUs are special units created under the RCRA to facilitate treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes managed for implementing cleanup, and to remove the disincentives to cleanup that the application of RCRA to these wastes can sometimes impose. A CAMU is used only for managing CAMU-eligible wastes for implementing corrective action or cleanup at the facility. A CAMU must be located within the lower contiguous property under the control of the owner or operator where wastes to be managed in the CAMU originated.

The CAMU regulations were originally promulgated on February 16, 1993. EPA amended the 1993 CAMU rule in 2002 with six changes. The following documents provide the “Amendments to the original Corrective Action Management Units Rule” and supplemental information.

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Additional Remediation Waste Guidance

The following resources provide guidance on EPA’s regulations and policies for remediation waste management:

Name of Document(s) Description of Document(s)

Management of Remediation Waste Under RCRA and Summary Chart

Management of Remediation Waste Under RCRA, consolidates existing guidance on the RCRA regulations and policies that most often affect remediation waste management. The associated chart summarizes the document and can be used to quickly identify possible remediation waste management strategies and to compare one remediation waste management approach to another.
Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) Treatment Standards for Contaminated Debris (328 pp, 78 MB, About PDF)

This document finalized treatment standards under the land disposal restrictions (LDR) program for certain hazardous wastes listed after November 8, 1984, pursuant to a proposed consent decree filed with the District Court that established a promulgation date of June 1992. It also finalized revised treatment standards for debris contaminated with listed hazardous waste or debris that exhibits certain hazardous waste characteristics, and several revisions to previously promulgated standards and requirements.

Area of Contamination Policy

This memorandum confirms that, under current regulations, certain broad areas of contamination (AOCs) may be considered to be RCRA landfills. Under certain conditions, hazardous wastes may be moved within such areas without triggering RCRA land disposal restrictions or minimum technology requirements. This memorandum also describes the distinctions between the final Corrective Action Management Unit (CAMU) regulations and the AOC approach, and encourages appropriate use of both options to expedite remedial actions.

Determination of When Contamination is Caused by Listed Hazardous Wasted

This document is Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding contamination caused by hazardous wastes. In many cases, a factual determination will be required as to when hazardous wastes were land disposed in order to determine whether they were prohibited at that time and whether, therefore, the prohibition continues to apply to contaminated soil. However, if information is not available it is generally reasonable to assume that contaminated soils do not contain untreated hazardous wastes placed after the effective dates of applicable land disposal prohibitions. This is because placement of untreated hazardous waste after applicable LDR effective dates would be a violation of RCRA, subject to significant fines and penalties including criminal sanctions.

Site-Specific LDR Treatment Variances

This document is in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding land disposal restrictions. EPA added amendments to the rule authorizing treatment variances from the national Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) treatment standards. The clarifying changes adopted EPA’s longstanding interpretation that a treatment variance may be granted when treatment of any given waste to the level or by the method specified in the regulations is not appropriate. Application of the national treatment standard could be found to be “inappropriate”, specifically where the national treatment standard is unsuitable from a technical standpoint or where the national treatment standard could lead to environmentally counterproductive results by discouraging needed remediation.

Treatability Studies Exclusion Rule

This rule conditionally exempts small scale treatability studies from Subtitle C regulation. EPA updated the rule in 1994, and the principal change to the existing rule was to increase the quantity of contaminated media which are conditionally exempt from Subtitle C regulation, when used in conducting treatability studies.

Exemption for Ninety Day Accumulation

This document is in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding temporary storage of hazardous waste. EPA allows for limited on-site storage without the need for a permit or interim status (90 days for over 1000 kg/month generators and 180/270 days for 100-1000 kg/month generators). EPA believes that treatment in accumulation tanks or containers is permissible under the existing rules, provided the tanks or containers are operated strictly in compliance with all applicable standards.

Permit Waivers:

These documents below are a memoranda regarding RCRA permit waivers. In general, a State authorized to conduct the RCRA base permit program will have the authority to waive RCRA permit requirements for State Superfund actions as long as: (1) the State has the authority under its own statutes or regulations to grant permit waivers, and (2) the State waiver authority is used in no less stringent a manner than allowed under Federal permit waiver authority.

Exemption from Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 264 Requirements for People Engaged in the Immediate Phase of a Spill Response

This document consists of letters answering questions concerning the applicability of RCRA to certain situations (e.g. spills) involving remediation of contamination at a facility.

Changes During Interim Status to Comply with Corrective Action Requirements

This document is in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding performing Corrective Action activities during interim status. Section 3008(h) authorizes EPA to order a facility owner or operator to conduct Corrective Action during interim status when EPA determines that there is or has been a release of hazardous waste into the environment. This document describes how Section 270.72(a)(5) allows interim status facilities to make changes in accordance with Corrective Action orders issued under Section 3008(h) or other Federal authority.

Emergency Permits

This letter details RCRA Regulations for actions taken in immediate or emergency response to a discharge of hazardous waste, or an imminent and substantial threat of discharge of a hazardous waste. Transportation to a remote site is exempt from permitting, however, RCRA emergency permits (40 CFR 270.61) can be used for destruction activities. These permits may only be issued when the Region or State finds that an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health or the environment exists, according to the requirements of 40 CFR 270.61.

Temporary Authorizations at Permitted Facilities

This rule provides EPA with the authority to grant a permittee temporary authorization, without prior public notice and comment, to conduct activities necessary to respond promptly to changing conditions.

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