United States
            EnvironnwntaJ Protection
Office of Solid Waste
and Emorgoney Response
Washington, D.C. 20460
October 1588
            Solid Waste
xr EPA  Report to
            Solid Waste Disposal
            in the United States
            Executive Summary


                               Executive Summarv
      Disposal of  "nonhazardous"   solid  waste is  regulated  under Subtitle  D
 of  the  Resource  Conservation and  Recovery  Act   (RCRA).   These  Subtitle  D
 wastes  Include  many  different  types  of  waste  streams,  such  as municipal
 solid waste,  industrial  waste,  and  oil  and  gas  waste.   Recently, concerns
 have been  raised  regarding the  impacts  Subtitle  D  wastes may  be having on
 human health and  the  environment.   In response  to these concerns, Congress,
 in  the  1984  Hazardous and  Solid  Waste  Amendments to  RCRA,  directed  the
 Environmental Protection   Agency (EPA)  to  evaluate   the  adequacy  of   the
 current  Subtitle D regulatory  program.   This report  fulfills this  mandate.

      The  report   is   published   in  two  volumes.    Volume  I  presents   the
 conclusions   and  recommendations  of the  Subtitle  D  study,   and Volume  II
 contains the  results  of   the data  collection  efforts.   Because  of  data
 availability,  municipal solid  waste landfills  and  the wastes  they  receive
 are  covered  more  completely   than   other   facility  and  waste   types.    In
 addition,  oil and gas  wastes, mining wastes,  utility   wastes, and municipal
 sewage sludge are only briefly discussed because they  are subjects  of  other
 efforts  currently  being conducted by  EPA.

 Major Findings
                           t-                                      -
Subtitle D  Waste Stream Is Large and D/Versg. More  Than 11  Billion  Tons  of  Subtitle D
Waste Are  Produced Annually in the  United  States.   Of  this  total more  than
95  percent are  industrial  nonhazardous  waste,  oil  and gas  waste, mining
waste, and municipal   solid  waste.     Each  type   of waste  presents unique
management problems and risks.

There Are  Manv Subtitle D Units  Then,  are  226,732  Subtitle D units  in  the United
States.;    Eighty-four  percent  of this   total  are   surface  impoundments,  8
percent  are  land application units,   6  percent are landfills,  and 2 percent
are  industrial waste piles.  Of  the  nearly 13,000  landfill units  identified,
6,584 are municipal solid waste landfill  units.

Shortages of Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Capacity Are Occurring in Some Areas of the Nation.
The  shortages are  due  to several  factors:   (1)  83  percent of  the  municipal
solid  waste  generated   in  1986  was  landfilled;    (2)  45  percent  of  all
municipal  solid waste  landfills will  close by  1991;   (3)  some  States  have
not  conducted long-term planning;-and   (4) siting of new disposal facilities
Is difficult.

Impacts Have Been Identified For Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. These include:

          Municipal  solid waste I landf51 Is have  degraded and may  continue  to
           degrade  the  environment.

          Human  health -impacts  from  exposure  to ground-water  contamination
           caused by municipal  solid waste  landfills  have not  been documented.
           However,  taken  as a whole,  the data  indicate that releases  to the
           ground water  from municipal solid waste landfills  present  potential
           risks to  human  health.

          Acute  human  health  impacts  associated with  methane  releases  have
           been documented.

          The  Agency  is  currently determining   the  extent of  human  health
           risks that may  result  from emissions of volatile  organic compounds.

          Indian Tribes  perceive  that municipal solid  waste  disposal  is  an
           environmental problem  on Indian  lands.

Data  Are Insufficient to Support A Conclusion Regarding Impacts At Industrial Subtitle D Facilities.
However,  the  limited   available  data  on  industrial  Subtitle  0  facilities
indicate  that  there  is  cause  for  concern and a  need for  further  study.
Current  findings  include:    (1)  the use of  design controls  at  industrial
facilities  is very limited;    (2) the  number  of   industrial  facilities  is
large  and  the  amount  of  industrial  nonhazardous   waste  generated  annually
dwarfs  the amount  of  municipal  solid waste;  and    (3) violations  of  State
standards  have been documented;    EPA  will  be able  to  better  define  the
impacts of  industrial  waste facilities after additional  data  are available.

Several Subtitle D  Waste  Streams  Pose  Special  Management Concerns.   Waste    tires,
infectious  waste,  and  municipal  waste  combustion ash are examples of  special
Subtitle  D wastes.   The special  management  concerns  posed  by  these  waste
streams arise.from the unique characteristics  of these wastes.   Current  data
are  not sufficient  to  estimate reliably  the risks posed  by  these wastes.

Existing Federal and State Subtitle D Regulations Are Inadequate.  Federal  and  some  State
solid waste regulations  lack the  following essential requirements:   location
criteria,  appropriate  design criteria,   ground-water  monitoring,  corrective
action,, closure and post-closure care, and  financial responsibility.

 State Implementation of State Regulations Is Inadequate  The  following  State  program
 inadequacies  were  found:    Incomplete  enforcement  authorities,  fragmented
 organization, limited resources, aftd a  lack of long-term planning.

 5/nce 1980. Very Limited Technical Assistance on Solid Waste Management Has Been Offered by the
 Federal Government to State and Local Governments. The  last  Agency  guidance  document
 on  solid waste management was  issued in  1979.


 f PA Makes the Following General Recommendations:

          The roles  established  by  RCRA  for  Federal,  State,  and  local
          governments    should    be  continued,    with   responsibility   for
          implementing  the  Subtitle D  program mostly  with  State and  local

          An  integrated  waste management system including:   source reduction,
          recycling, energy recovery, and environmentally sound  land  disposal
          for  the  residual  wastes should be promoted.

          Coordination among Federal and State agencies and  Indian Tribes  is
          needed   to  develop  an   appropriate   strategy   for   solid   waste
          management on  Indian  lands.

         Data gaps, particularly for industrial  waste  facilities need  to  be
          filled.  Additional  survey and characterization studies as well  as
          health risk assessments are necessary.

With Resoect to Federal Activities SPA Recommends the Following:

         The  current  Federal  Subtitle  D  criteria  should  be  revised for
          municipal solid waste landfills.

         Technical  assistance  to   States  and  local   governments  should  be
          increased  and  should  include  an emphasis  on source  reduction and

         Subtitle   D   regulatory   programs   established   by   the  Federal
          government  should be  commensurate  with  risks  posed by each waste
          stream or facility type.

For State and Local Programs, EPA Recommends the Followina:

         State  and local  governments  should  ensure the  vitality of  their
          Subtitle  D  programs by establishing  a dependable future  source of
          funding and  strengthening  enforcement  authorities.
          More  long-term , planning  for  solid  waste
          conducted by State and  local  governments.
management  should  be
          The  States  must  quickly   adopt   the  new  Federal   criteria  for
          municipal solid waste  landfills, as required by  the  1984 Hazardous
          and Solid Waste Amendments.
EPA Recommends the Following Legislative Changes:

         EPA's  authority  for  developing  standards under  Subtitle  D  for
          closed sol id waste disposal  facilities  should  be clarified.

         The definition  of  Indian  Tribes  under RCRA  should  be  amended  to
          include provisions  similar to  those  under the  Safe  Drinking Water

         Data  are   insufficient to  indicate  the  need  for  any  additional
          enforcement 'authorities beyond  those  provided by  HSWA  for  solid
          waste  disposal  facilities  that receive  household hazardous  waste
          and smal1-quantity generator  hazardous  waste.