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Assessment of National Capacity for Hazardous Waste Management

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The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), was amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) on October 17, 1986. These amendments include the provisions under Section 104(c)(9) that require states to assure the availability of hazardous waste treatment or disposal facilities that have adequate capacity to manage the hazardous waste expected to be generated within the state over 20 years, before EPA can provide any federal remedial action funding to the state.

The Agency worked closely with the states to develop a planning process that first focuses on an assessment of national capacity. The assessment of national capacity is intended to reflect the reality of waste flows and needs for future management capacity. The national planning approach is described in the Guidance for Capacity Assurance Planning document dated May 1993 and involves EPA assessing capacity nationwide by aggregating state-specific data.

The Agency’s 2019 assessment of the availability of capacity for the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste generation, as documented in the 2019 National Capacity Assessment Report, indicates that there exists adequate capacity nationwide through the year 2044. This report describes the data and analyses that provide the information needed for the capacity assurance. The focus of the assessment is on commercial management for land disposal, incineration, and energy recovery since these management types are often costly and difficult to permit.

While EPA's analysis shows that there is adequate capacity through 2044, assuring such capacity requires all parties including states, tribal governments, industry and commercial management facilities to actively plan and coordinate. This necessitates that all states  periodically examine their capacity situations, identify areas of concern, and develop plans that consider future needs. These planning exercises will add to states and tribal governments’ knowledge of their hazardous waste management systems, help them implement waste minimization programs, and encourage companies to replace older treatment units with more efficient technologies. This can be especially important if studies of hazardous waste management data show capacity issues for specific waste streams anticipated to be generated within a state’s borders.

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National Capacity Assessment Reports and Supporting Documents

The 2019 National Capacity Assessment Report, past assessment reports and their supporting documents can be accessed below.

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