United States
                Environmental Protection
                        Solid Waste and
       May 2OOO
                Office of Solid Waste
Fact  Sheet
                 Regulatory Determination  for Wastes

                 from the Combustion of Fossil Fuels

                   The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that fossil fuel
                 combustion wastes do not warrant regulation as hazardous under Subtitle C of the
                 Resource Consen'ation and Recovery Act (RCRA). EPA is retaining the hazardous waste
                 exemption for these wastes. However, the Agency has determined that national non-
                 hazardous waste regulations under RCRA Subtitle D are needed for coal combustion
                 wastes disposed in surface impoundments and landfills and used as minefill. The Agency
                 also concluded beneficial uses of these wastes, other than for minefilling, pose no
                 significant risk and no additional national regulations are needed.
RCRA exempted fossil fuel combustion wastes from hazardous waste regulation until EPA
completed a Report to Congress and made a determination on whether the wastes should be
regulated as hazardous. In a 1993 regulatory determination, we addressed some large volume coal
combustion wastes generated at electric utility and independent power producing facilities. The
recent regulatory determination addresses all remaining fossil fuel combustion wastes, including the
remaining coal combustion wastes generated at electric utilities as well as at other industrial
facilities and oil and gas combustion wastes. This determination affects more than 110 million tons
of fossil fuel combustion wastes that are generated each year, virtually all from burning coal.
Electric utilities generate about 90% of the total waste.


While fossil fuel combustion wastes remain exempt from hazardous waste regulation, we will
establish national regulations under RCRA Subtitle D for coal combustion wastes disposed in
surface impoundments and landfills and used as minefill.  We will develop the regulations through
notice and comment rulemaking and in consultation with states and other interested stakeholders.
RCRA relies on states to implement these non-hazardous waste requirements.  Citizens have the right
to bring enforcement action in federal district court directly against facilities that do not comply with
the final regulations. For coal combustion wastes used as minefill, we will also consult with the
Office of Surface Mining in the U.S. Department of the Interior to assess whether equivalent
protectiveness could be achieved by using regulatory authorities available under the Surface Mining
Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).

The utility industry has made significant improvements in implementing controls such as liners and
groundwater monitoring at surface impoundments and landfills in recent years.  In addition, state
regulatory programs and oversight have also improved; currently more than 40 states have the
authority to require liners and groundwater monitoring, as well as other controls. While this
positive trend is encouraging, we remain concerned because there are damage cases, and several
hundred of these units are without monitoring and/or liners to protect ground water. There are also
still some gaps in state programs.

Minefilling with coal combustion waste is a recent and rapidly growing use that can neutralize acid
mine drainage and stabilize and reclaim mined lands. However, when wastes are placed directly in
the groundwater or without adequate analysis of geochemical/waste interactions, minefilling can
contaminate ground water. States are beginning to adopt regulatory programs to control minefilling
activity, but currently there are very few comprehensive programs.

We believe, with the substantial progress already achieved through improved state programs and
voluntary industry actions, Subtitle D regulations (and possibly SMCRA for minefilling) will
provide sufficient incentives and sanctions to  states and industry to close remaining gaps. Also, as
we proceed with developing the Subtitle D regulations, we will take enforcement action under
RCRA's imminent and substantial endangerment provisions, and rely on Superfund cleanup
authorities to address damages that result in risk to human health and the environment.

We will also assess new information on risks  associated with managing fossil fuel combustion
wastes as it becomes available and monitor trends toward protective management, to evaluate
whether this Subtitle D approach will close the gaps we have identified.  If new information
indicates that this approach is not sufficiently protective, the Agency will re-examine its decision
whether hazardous waste regulation is needed.

Currently, almost one quarter of the coal combustion waste generated each year - about 28 million
tons - is beneficially used in areas such as construction applications, agricultural amendment and
waste stabilization. We did not identify any significant risks associated with these uses. Further, we
do not wish to place any unnecessary barriers on the beneficial uses of these  wastes because they
conserve natural resources, reduce disposal costs and reduce the total amount of waste destined for

For More Information

   This Federal Register notice and this fact sheet are available in electronic format on the Internet
at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/fossilfuel.htm.  For additional information or to
order paper copies of any documents, call the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at (800) 424-9346 (toll
free) or (703) 412-9810 in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  The RCRA/Superfund Hotline
operates weekdays (except federal holidays) from 9:00am to 6:00pm.