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Balancing act: creating the right regulation for coal combustion waste.

Manuel J - Environ. Health Perspect. (2009)

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With the 22 December 2008 collapse of a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) ash pond in Kingston, Tennessee, and the arrival of the Obama administration the following month, the regulatory ground is shifting in regards to coal combustion waste (CCW), the millions of tons of waste left over each year from burning coal for electricity... The resulting FGD sludge is dried before reuse... CCW contains varying levels of the same potentially toxic elements that are found in coal... As far back as 1980, the EPA has debated designating CCW as a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)... At the same time, many assert that classification of all CCW as “hazardous” under Subtitle C is unjustified and would severely constrain, if not altogether end, recycling of the material. “The marketplace would not choose to use something designated hazardous waste when they have other options,” says Tom Adams, ACAA executive director... So, too, is the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), which voiced its opinion in an April 2009 letter to Hale. “Coal combustion byproducts rarely if ever fail the criteria by which materials are determined to be hazardous waste,” the authors wrote. “To artificially classify them as hazardous waste will needlessly limit the management options for both [CCW] and other waste classified as hazardous, which will be competing with [CCW] for limited hazardous waste disposal capacity, while not providing any greater degree of environmental protection.. .... The prospect of adding a significant new waste stream to be managed by severely underfunded State hazardous waste programs is unconscionable unless a significant amount of new sustained funding is included. ” ASTSWMO is also opposed to a hybrid Subtitle C and D designation in which disposed material is classified as hazardous whereas recycled material is classified as solid waste. “The uncertainty that a presumed hazardous waste material could be deemed hazardous as a result of a determination that a generator failed to follow Subtitle D requirements will create too much uncertainty and liability concerns for the beneficial user,” the group wrote in its letter... Instead, the organization encourages EPA to classify all CCW under Subtitle D, with implementation left to the states and enforcement by the federal government under RCRA... Environmental groups do not want to end all genuinely beneficial uses of CCW, but they do want stiffer requirements for disposed waste than are called for under Subtitle D, and they also have serious concerns about unconsolidated land-based uses such as structural fills and agricultural applications, says Chandra Taylor, a senior attorney at the SELC. “There’s no question that CCW has hazardous constituents, and the EPA should promulgate rules in consideration of that fact,” says Taylor. “Certainly, we want at least minimum federal standards for disposal—a dual liner for landfills, a leachate collection system, testing for contaminants in the groundwater supplies, and phaseout of wet storage. ” Industry spokespeople say the EPA is indeed likely to call for a phaseout of wet storage... The EPA has already found that coal-burning power plants emit 67 of these pollutants, notes the SELC’s Suttles... Some technologies, such as activated carbon injection, have proven highly effective in reducing mercury emission... Suttles, a staunch advocate of strict controls on power plant emissions, is cognizant of the impacts that new regulations may have on disposal costs and recycling of CCW... But he does not believe such impacts are justification for compromising public health and safety. “We are starting to see the true cost of using coal as an energy source,” he says. “Yes, we may be taking pollution that would have gone into the air and creating a land disposal problem, [but] our position is that you have to account for all these risks... The result is that using coal is not cheap.

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Balancing act: creating the right regulation for coal combustion waste.

Manuel J - Environ. Health Perspect. (2009)

© Copyright Policy - public-domain
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2801182&req=5

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

With the 22 December 2008 collapse of a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) ash pond in Kingston, Tennessee, and the arrival of the Obama administration the following month, the regulatory ground is shifting in regards to coal combustion waste (CCW), the millions of tons of waste left over each year from burning coal for electricity... The resulting FGD sludge is dried before reuse... CCW contains varying levels of the same potentially toxic elements that are found in coal... As far back as 1980, the EPA has debated designating CCW as a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)... At the same time, many assert that classification of all CCW as “hazardous” under Subtitle C is unjustified and would severely constrain, if not altogether end, recycling of the material. “The marketplace would not choose to use something designated hazardous waste when they have other options,” says Tom Adams, ACAA executive director... So, too, is the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), which voiced its opinion in an April 2009 letter to Hale. “Coal combustion byproducts rarely if ever fail the criteria by which materials are determined to be hazardous waste,” the authors wrote. “To artificially classify them as hazardous waste will needlessly limit the management options for both [CCW] and other waste classified as hazardous, which will be competing with [CCW] for limited hazardous waste disposal capacity, while not providing any greater degree of environmental protection.. .... The prospect of adding a significant new waste stream to be managed by severely underfunded State hazardous waste programs is unconscionable unless a significant amount of new sustained funding is included. ” ASTSWMO is also opposed to a hybrid Subtitle C and D designation in which disposed material is classified as hazardous whereas recycled material is classified as solid waste. “The uncertainty that a presumed hazardous waste material could be deemed hazardous as a result of a determination that a generator failed to follow Subtitle D requirements will create too much uncertainty and liability concerns for the beneficial user,” the group wrote in its letter... Instead, the organization encourages EPA to classify all CCW under Subtitle D, with implementation left to the states and enforcement by the federal government under RCRA... Environmental groups do not want to end all genuinely beneficial uses of CCW, but they do want stiffer requirements for disposed waste than are called for under Subtitle D, and they also have serious concerns about unconsolidated land-based uses such as structural fills and agricultural applications, says Chandra Taylor, a senior attorney at the SELC. “There’s no question that CCW has hazardous constituents, and the EPA should promulgate rules in consideration of that fact,” says Taylor. “Certainly, we want at least minimum federal standards for disposal—a dual liner for landfills, a leachate collection system, testing for contaminants in the groundwater supplies, and phaseout of wet storage. ” Industry spokespeople say the EPA is indeed likely to call for a phaseout of wet storage... The EPA has already found that coal-burning power plants emit 67 of these pollutants, notes the SELC’s Suttles... Some technologies, such as activated carbon injection, have proven highly effective in reducing mercury emission... Suttles, a staunch advocate of strict controls on power plant emissions, is cognizant of the impacts that new regulations may have on disposal costs and recycling of CCW... But he does not believe such impacts are justification for compromising public health and safety. “We are starting to see the true cost of using coal as an energy source,” he says. “Yes, we may be taking pollution that would have gone into the air and creating a land disposal problem, [but] our position is that you have to account for all these risks... The result is that using coal is not cheap.

Show MeSH