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Hazardous Waste

Historical Information about the Hazardous Waste Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) Program

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Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments Mandate

During the passage of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1984, Congress added a new LDR program to the RCRA framework. The statue at section 3004(m) required that the EPA promulgate treatment standards for hazardous waste to substantially diminish the toxicity or mobility of hazardous wastes so that short- and long-term threats to human health and the environment were minimized. In response, EPA developed a series of rulemakings under the LDR program setting forth standards for treatment of hazardous wastes destined for land disposal.

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Early Rulemakings

HSWA required the Agency to promulgate LDR treatment standards by May 8, 1990 for all wastes listed or identified as hazardous at the time of the amendments. To achieve this, Congress created a time frame for the implementation of treatment standards for all wastes which were in existence and regulated prior to HSWA. This time frame consisted of initial rulemakings to account for highly hazardous or wide-spread wastes, and a three –part schedule to address the remaining wastes by certain deadlines. The rulemakings that made up the three-part schedule are commonly called the “thirds.” 

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The Phases

For wastes identified or listed as hazardous after HSWA, EPA was required to promulgate treatment standards within six months of the date that the listing or identification became final. EPA did not meet the latter requirements, and was sued by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). In a signed consent decree in EDF v EPA, EPA agreed to a schedule for completing the LDR treatment standards for the remaining hazardous wastes.

In a separate court action, EPA was sued by Chemical Waste Management (CWM v EPA) on the LDR treatment standards for characteristic wastes established in the Third Third rule. In that case, the court ruled that characteristic wastes must be treated to address the possible existence of underlying hazardous constituents (UHCs).

Combined, these two court cases had a massive impact on the LDR program, establishing an aggressive schedule for completion of outstanding LDR treatment standards and forcing EPA to reconsider existing treatment standards for characteristic wastes. In response to these two court decisions, EPA promulgated four different rulemakings (or phases) between 1991 and 1998.

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Federal Register Notices Promulgating the LDR Regulations

In support of the LDR program, EPA has put together a document listing all the Federal Register notices that have been published from 1986 to 2015. This document, Chronology of Rules and Regulations Published in the Federal Register Supporting the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) Program 1986 to 2014, replaces the previous LDR Web page that linked to all LDR regulations. The Federal Register notices listed in the Chronology document can be accessed on GPO's website.

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Technical Documents

Title Description
The Treatment Technology Background Document This document provides a discussion of the treatment technologies applicable to wastes that are subject to LDRs. The technologies discussed in this document are demonstrated (commercially available) and have been proven to substantially diminish the toxicity of hazardous constituents and/or reduce the likelihood of migration of constituents present in hazardous waste. Treatment performance data from technologies discussed in this document were the basis for the LDR treatment standards.
The Guidebook for Quality Assurance/Quality Control Procedures for Submission of Data for the Land Disposal Restrictions Program This document explains how to generate data which characterizes the performance of hazardous waste treatment systems in terms of the composition of treated hazardous waste streams plus treatment system operation and design.

Calculation of LDR Treatment Standards

  • Example 1 - Calculation of Universal Treatment Standard (UTS) for High Concentration Selenium Wastes Using Data Submitted by Chemical Waste Management (CWM)
  • Example 2 - Calculation of Universal Treatment Standard for Antimony Using Data Submitted by Chemical Waste Management and Data Obtained From Rollins
  • Example 3 - Transferability of UTS to Mineral Processing Wastes
  • Example 4 - Final Revised Calculation of Treatment Standards Using Data Obtained From Rollins Environmental's Highway 36 Commercial Waste Treatment Facility and GNB's Frisco, Texas Waste Treatment Facility
These documents provide examples of how treatment standards are calculated.

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