Frequent Questions

Are you saying the current hazardous waste combustor regulations are not safe?

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations governing hazardous waste incinerators have not been upgraded in almost 15 years, even though new pollution control technologies have been developed over that same period of time. To address this gap, EPA has been using its RCRA omnibus authority as necessary in appropriate cases to ensure that incinerator permits contain conditions that are protective of human health and the environment. The RCRA omnibus authority allows permitting agencies to impose additional conditions in a permit as needed to ensure that the facility is operating in a manner that is sufficiently protective. Usually, these types of additional conditions are identified pursuant to a site-specific risk assessment.
 
The RCRA regulations for cement and lightweight aggregate kilns and other industrial boilers and furnaces were issued in 1991, and provide the framework for controlling emissions from these facilities. Unfortunately, some of those regulations were not able to fully take into account the indirect food chain pathways that are important for some key pollutants -- dioxins, furans, and mercury. For example, the information on the hazard from dioxins and furans was still being developed as part of EPA's Dioxin Reassessment effort.
 
Starting in 1993, the Agency's Combustion Strategy made it clear that EPA was going to upgrade these regulations -- in part, so that cement kiln and other Boiler and Industrial Furnace (BIF) permits would not have to make as extensive use of the RCRA Omnibus Permit Authority. 

EPA's commitment remains to ensure that hazardous waste combustion is properly regulated under a set of stringent and implementable standards as implemented through the RCRA and Clean Air Act permit systems. The public demands -- and is entitled to -- this protection.

For more information, see http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/combust/.

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