Land Disposal Restrictions and Mineral Processing Wastes – EPA’s Current Rulemaking Activities

Housman, Van E. ; Hoffman, Stephan
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
Introduction Based upon the 1980 Bevill Amendment to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a 1986 Regulatory Determination decision, and subsequent rulemakings, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempted all extraction and beneficiation wastes and twenty mineral processing wastes from regulation under RCRA Subtitle C (hazardous waste) regulations. These twenty mineral processing waste streams were studied in a 1990 Mineral Processing Report to Congress. For purposes of regulatory classification, EPA made special distinctions between extraction/beneficiation and mineral processing. Wastes determined by EPA to be from the extraction/beneficiation of ores and minerals retain the exemption, while wastes found to be mineral processing, except for the “special" twenty mineral processing wastes, fall within RCRA Subtitle C jurisdiction. For those wastes that are subject to RCRA Subtitle C, § 3004(m) of RCRA requires EPA to set levels or methods of treatment, of any, which would substantially diminish the toxicity of the waste or substantially reduce the likelihood of migration of hazardous constituents from the waste so that short- term and long-term threats to human health and the environment are minimized. These treatment standards are developed by EPA under the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) program. Under § 3004(g) (4) of RCRA, EPA is required to promulgate treatment standards for any waste that is newly identified or listed as hazardous. As part of the settlement agreement in Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) v. Reilly and Chemical Waste Management, Inc. v. EPA (1992), EPA has agreed to propose a rule by June 30, 1995 and promulgate a final rule by June 30, 1996. This rule is commonly referred to as the "Phase IV" LDR rule and will address newly identified mineral processing wastes. Other wastes that will be addressed in this rule include newly listed dyes and pigments and wood preserving wastes. Therefore, in the Phase IV rule EPA will develop treatment standards for all mineral processing wastes that have lost their Bevill exclusion. EPA is currently collecting information on the waste characterization, treatment alternatives, and disposal capacity data currently available on these wastes. EPA is also soliciting data and information on opportunities for
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