Saturday, July 09, 2011

EPA Proposes Safeguards for Hazardous Waste Recycling

To promote economic, environmental and public health benefits of waste recycling

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new safeguards for recycling hazardous materials to protect public health and the environment. The proposal modifies EPA’s 2008 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule, which revised hazardous waste regulations to encourage recycling of hazardous materials. The proposal will improve accountability and oversight of hazardous materials recycling, while allowing for important flexibilities that will promote its economic and environmental benefits. EPA is opening up this proposal for public comment.

EPA is also releasing for public comment its 355-page draft expanded environmental justice analysis of the 2008 DSW final rule, which evaluates the rule’s potential impact on low-income and minority communities. The analysis acknowledges that while all communities create waste, where the waste ends up is not random and there are some communities that are more likely to be affected by the waste.  The 2008 DSW rule disproportionately harmed low-income and minority communities, which are more likely to be near facilities that take advantage of the exemption. No matter what the government wants to label the waste, it is still hazardous and should be subject to stringent oversight.  EPA is also requesting public comment on the environmental justice analysis as well as on suggested changes received from peer review. The analysis and peer review comments will be available in the docket for this rulemaking once the proposal is published.

EPA’s re-examination of the 2008 DSW final rule identified areas in the regulations that could be improved to better protect public health and the environment with a particular focus on adjacent communities by ensuring better management of hazardous waste. The proposal includes provisions to address those areas through increased transparency and oversight and accountability for hazardous materials recycling. Facilities that recycle onsite or within the same company under the reduced regulatory requirements retained under the proposal would be subject to enhanced storage and recordkeeping requirements as compared to the 2008 rule. Companies that send their hazardous materials offsite for recycling would have tailored storage standards, while being required to send their materials to a permitted hazardous waste recycling facility. The proposed rule also creates a level playing field by requiring all forms of hazardous waste recycling to meet requirements designed to ensure materials are legitimately recycled and not being disposed of illegally.

EPA will accept comment on this proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The docket for the rulemaking is EPA-HQ-RCRA-2010-0742 and can be accessed at once the proposal is published. (EPA, NYT, 7/7/2011)

More information about this rulemaking

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