[Recycled Oil]                     --[SW-883]

                          STATEMENT OF
                        GARY N. DIETRICH
                        FOR SOLID WASTE
                            BEFORE THE
                              OF THE
                        UNITED STATES SENATE
                            May 5, 1980

     Mr. Chairman, I am Gary Dietrich, Associate Deputy Assistant

Administrator for Solid Waste of the U.S.  Environmental Protection

Agency.  I thank you for the opportunity to present EPA's views

on S. 2412, a bill to amend the Resource Conservation and Recovery

Act to further encourage the use of recycled oil.  This hearing

is timely because EPA is currently in the process of considering

appropriate regulation of waste oil as a hazardous waste under

Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  The

provisions of this bill should be considered in that overall


     EPA supports the recovery and reuse of used oil.  We

believe that the discarding and disposal of used oil should be

discouraged.  Waste oil represents a valuable resource "because,

with appropriate treatment, it can be recycled as a lubricating

oil.  It also can be burned as a fuel.  In either case, two

important objectives are served:

     a)  The use of virgin petroleum' products is replaced by

         the amount of oil recycled.

     b)  Potential environmental hazards from improper disposal

         of used oil are reduced or eliminated.

     In my statement, I will focuss on the scope and nature of

the waste oil problem,  the options EPA is considering for dealing

with that problem,  and the specific provisions of this bill to

encourage recycling.

Used Oil Quantities and Collection

     EPA estimates that there are 1.4 billion gallons of used and

waste oil generated annually.  About half of this is used auto-

mobile crankcase oil, and the other half is used industrial

oils.  Of this total, we estimate that 700 million gallons are

burned as fuel, 100 million gallons are re-refined or reclaimed,

200 million gallons are used for road oiling or similar purposes

and 400 million gallons are disposed of either indiscriminantly

or with garbage and trash.

     The collection of used automotive and some used industrial

oil for disposal,  use or recycle is carried out "by an estimated

5,000 small collectors.  We believe that much of the used

industrial oil is burned as a fuel directly by the generator

on-site with or without reprocessing.

Environmental Problem

     Used oil presents an environmental problem "because it is

usually highly contaminated.  Also the oil, itself, can

pollute the environment, particularly when discharged into

surface waters.  A variety of contaminants are added during its
use.  Automotive crankcase oil is contaminated with lead from

gasoline.  Industrial oils are contaminated with a variety of

materials, but we have very incomplete data on the nature and

degree of this contamination.


     A large number and variety of chemical additives are added

to oils to improve their performance and extend their useful  life.

Although they serve beneficial purposes during use, they constitute

contaminants in used oil.  We have an incomplete inventory of

these additives and their importance as contaminants in used  oil.

     Perhaps the worst feature of used oil is the fact that it

is typically mixed when it is collected, transported and stored

prior to being ra-used, recycled or disposed.  In this mixing

process, a variety of toxic solvents, PCB's and other toxic

matarials are frequently mixed into used oil.  The results are


heterogeneous mixtures that can and frequently do contain some

very hazardous materials.  Indeed,  the worst cases of environ-

mental damages associated with used oil resulted from indiscritni-

nant mixing:  dioxin-contaminated used oil employed as a dust

suppressant on a horse arena in Missouri, killing many horses

and threatening humsin life; PCB,-contaminated used oil that has

killed cattle; and road oiling with used oil in Texas which

contained a highly toxic solvent.  It is largely the propensity

for used oil to be a carrier for a variety of highly toxic

solvents, PCB's^and other materials that causes EPA to be

concerned about used oil and to presume that used oil is a

hazardous waste.  We are also concerned about the lead in

used oil, and here, also, the mixing o'f used oil results in

all used oil being suspected o'f containing lead.  I£ automotive

crankcase oil were segregated from other used oil, our concern

about lead contamination of used oil could be focused on

crankcase oil and,  further, crankcase oil exclusive of that

derived from diesel-engine fleets.  Although we do not have a

great deal of data on the other contaminants of used oil—

particularly those picked up in industrial oil and those derived

from additives—we believe that the mixing of used oil has the

effect of spreading these contaminants throughout most used oil.

     All uses, recycling and disposal of used oil have the

potential of polluting the environment,  but the nature and degree

of this pollution varies.  The disposal of used oil can result in

the leaching or draining of the oil or its contaminants into  *

surface and ground waters.  Similar potential exists with respect

to used oil that is used as a road oil or in other applications

on the land.  The burning of used oil can result in air emissions

of lead, other metals and incompletely burned organic contaminants.

The reclaiming, re-refining and reprocessing of used oil can

generate highly contaminated sludges, residues and wastewater

and air discharges.  The storage and transportation of used oil

can be attended by leakage and spills into the environment.  They

can also be attended by indiscriminant dumping into the environment,

Although the environmental impacts from individual use, recycling

and disposal operations can vary in degree and sometimes can be

very substantial, the aggregate impact- from the ultimate disposi-

tion of 1.4 billion gallons of used oil each year probably spell

our greatest concerns about used oil.

Environmental Control of Used Oil

     EPA believes it has jurisdiction under  Subtitle  C of the

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to regulate  used oil as

a hazardous waste and to regulate the disposal  as well as the

re-use and recycling of this material.   Indeed,  in  our proposed

regulations published December 18/  1978,  we  listed  several used

oils as hazardous waste and proposed to regulate the  disposal,

use-on-the-land and burning-as-a-fuel of  these  oils.   We did

not propose to regulate the reclaiming,  re-refining or other

recycling of these oils, but we. indicated that  we might,  in the

future, regulate these uses.  The Agency  received a very large

number of comments on these proposals.  We had  hoped  to complete

our consideration of these comments and our  further analysis of

the used oil problem in order to include  regulation of used oil

in the final and interim final Subtitle C hazardous waste regula-

tions that are being announced today.  The used oil problem is very

complex, however, and we simply have not  been able  to complete our

work on this matter.  We are, however,  planning to  list and regulate

used oil as a hazardous waste in an amendment to our  hazardous

waste regulations sometime in the fall of this  year.

     As I have mentioned, the used oil problem  is complex and

we believe it merits a special, tailored  set of hazardous waste

management regulations.  We do- not believe it should  be managed

under the same requirements as most other hazardous wastes.  We

feel this way for several reasons.  First, used oil is a resource.
It can be used and recycled.  Disposal should be discouraged.

In order to promote the use and recycling of used oil,  while,

at the same time,  controlling its potential  to pollute  the

environment, special regulations are required.   Secondly, because

of the large number of generators of waste oil—366,000—most of

whom are small service stations, garages and other businesses,

because of the number of transporters—5,000—and because of the

unknown but believed large numbers of users  of used oil,  we do

not feel that the highly sophisticated and complex manifest

tracking system of the Subtitle C program is well-suited and

wholly necessary to deal with this problem.   Finally, we believe

that the environmental impacts associated with the use  and recycling

of used oil are different and peculiar to this type of  material.

The requirements of the hazardous waste management regulations are

designed primarily to deal with the long-term containment and

destruction or treatment of wastes and are not always optimal to

deal with use and recycling.

     Against this backdrop of general findings, we have carefully

reviewed the used oil problem and have come  to some tentative

findings with respect to environmental regulation.  These are:

     -  We believe that reclaiming and re-refining of used oil

        should be encouraged but should be regulated.   It is

        important to assure that used oil is delivered  to and

        safely stored at recycling facilities, and it is

        important to control  the waste discharges from these


        We believe that the burning of waste oil as a fuel should

        be encouraged and can be accomplished in an environmentally

        safe way.  But this use also must be regulated to insure

        environmental protection.  Some types of burning should

        be prohibited or restricted while other types should be

        allowed but controlled.

        We believe that the use of used oil for road oiling,

        dust suppression, pesticide carriers and other land

        applications should be virtually prohibited.

     -  We believe that disposal of used oil should be discouraged

        and, where practiced, should be regulated as any other

        hazardous waste.

        Finally, we believe that the collection, transportation

        and storage of used oil should be regulated but in a

        manner that does not impose a large amount of reporting

        and recordkeeping on generators.

We are working with these concepts in formulating a final regu-

lation to be promulgated this fall under the Subtitle C hazardous

waste management program.

Comments on S. 2412

     EPA agrees with the basic intent., of the bill but has a

number of concerns with its specific provision.

     First, we are concerned that the objectives of the bill

do not reflect the beneficial use of used oil as a fuel.  We have

information that indicates that burning of waste oil as a fuel

is and can be a competitive and appropriate use of used oil,  as

compared to reclaiming and re-refining,  from the standpoint of

economics as well as conservation of resources.   Section 9001

of the bill fails to recognize this.  As previously mentioned,

use of used oil as a fuel can have environmental impacts,  as

can reclaiming and re-refining,  but we believe these impacts

can be adequately controlled. We recognize that  re—refining . of

used oil for re-use as a lubricant produces a. high.er level of

conservation because it produces a material that,  after

use, can be recycled once again and perhaps several additional

times.  Thus,  re-refining is to be preferred.   However, we also

recognize that many generators will prefer to burn their used

oil, as a fuel in on-site boilers.   If air emissions are controlled,

this use should not be discouraged.

     Secondly, we believe that most of the provisions of the

bill are alraady provided in the Resource Conservation and

Recovery Act and therefore can be implemented under the current

authority.  Certainly, those provisions of the bill related to

regulation of used oil for purposes of protecting human health

and the environment—principally Sections 9003 (a) (2) (B) and

9005 (b) (5)—are already covered by ,existing authority.  Also,

we believe that many of the provisions of the bill for encouraging

the use and recycling of used oil caJi be accomplished under RCRA.

Section 6002 of RCRA requires Federal agencies to produce products

containing the highest practicable percentage of recovered materials,

and it requires EPA to issue guidelines to encourage and assist

agencies in carrying out that mandate.   EPA has the authority under

Section 6002 to issue guidelines for use of re-refined oil.  Because

of the Section 6002 mandate, the Department of Defense has already

initiated a program to use increased amounts of re-rafined oil.

The existing authority of Section 6002  seems to be ideally suited

to achieve the objective of §9003 (a)  (2)  (B)  of this bill.

     Thirdly, we are not pursuaded that a new State grant program

is necessary to adequately deal with the used oil problem..  We do

support the concept of aggressive State programs, both to implement

environmental protection requirements and to foster tlie beneficial

use and recycling of used oil.  We believe that the first of these

objectives can and will be served under the current authorities of

RCRA which provide for authorizing the  States to implement the

hazardous waste management program under Subtitle C and further

provides for Federal grant support to the States to assist them

in this effort.  With respect to the second objective, we believe

that carefully designed regulations and guidelines under current

RCRA authorities can suffice to promote the beneficial use and

recycling of used oil.  Thus by regulation, we believe that we

can set the framework that favors use and recycling and penaits

the private sector to accomplish this  objective without Federal

assistance through State grants.

     We do believe that Section 9003 (b) (1) of the bill, which

requires the labeling of virgin oil to  encourage users to conserve

used oil, has considerable merit and would support enactment of

this provision.  We would point out that EPA already "has a very

similar mandate under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act,

P.L. 94-163.  Section 383 (d)  (2)  of that Act requires EPA to

prescribe labeling standards applicable to containers of new,

used, and recycled oil relating to proper disposal after use.

However, the timing of this action is predicated on completion

of certain still pending action by the National Bureau of Standards.

     We further believe that Section 9003 (a) (2)  (A) of the bill,

which requires EPA to assure the fitness of recycled or re-refined

oil for intended uses, has considerable merit.  We note that

Section 383(c) and (d) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act

has a similar provision which requires the National Bureau of

Standards to develop test procedures for determining the

"substantial equivalency" of re-refined and reprocessed used oil

with new oil and further requires the Federal Trade Commission

to promulgate those test procedures, together with labeling

standards, to affect notification to consumers about the equiva-

lency of the reprocessed or re-refined products.  We understand

that implementing a "substantial equivalency standard" presents

some very difficult technical and judgmental problems and believe

that a fitness test is preferable and more readily implemented.

We hasten to point out that Section 9003 (a) (2) (A) would add

a new activity to EPA's many programs-"-an activity with which we

have no experience.  If it is the wisdom of the Congress that

EPA perform this function, we undoubtedly would have to seek

help from the National Bureau of Standards and would have to

gear up.  However, EPA does not seek out this activity.  Based on

past experience, we do not believe we could meet the statutory

deadline of six months.

     Finally, we do not feel qualified to comment on Section 9004

of the bill and will defer to others to comment  on its merits.

     In summary, instead of supporting this legislation at this

time, we would like to continue to work with this Committee in

implementing the current authorities of RCRA to  deal with the

wise regulation of used oil from the standpoint  of bot-h environ-

mental protection and resource conservation.  As I have already

mentioned, we are moving to use the current authorities of RCRA

to deal with this matter.

     Again, I appreciate the opportunity to provide ttiis statement

and I shall be happy to answer any questions you might have.
                                                        yo 1984