Understanding Land Disposal Techniques for Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is a major environmental concern, and proper disposal of it is essential to protect the environment. Systematic and exhaustive management of 26% industrial waste is necessary to ensure that hazardous waste is not released into the environment. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was updated in 1984 to prevent the disposal of certain hazardous wastes on land, resulting in the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) program. This program requires certain protective measures to be taken before any hazardous waste is disposed of on land. Two basic methods of land disposal include landfilling and underground injection.

Prior to land disposal, surface storage or containment systems are often employed as a temporary method. The HSWA prohibits the land-based disposal of untreated hazardous waste and requires the EPA to specify the concentration levels or treatment methods of hazardous components before waste can be disposed of on the ground. This includes, but is not limited to, placement in a landfill, a surface reservoir, a waste pile, an injection well, a land treatment facility, the formation of a salt dome, a formation of a salt bed, an underground mine or cave, or the placement in a concrete vault or bunker intended for disposal. If a hazardous waste generator produces more than 220 pounds (or 2.2 pounds of acute hazardous waste) of hazardous materials in a calendar month, it must identify the type and nature of the waste and also determine the applicable treatment course before disposal on land. The provisions of the LDR focus on eliminating this possibility by properly treating hazardous or toxic components of waste before their disposal on land. The EPA provides information for individuals who wish to request an NMV for one or more temporary waste piles, where treated hazardous waste that is expected to meet LDR standards is temporarily stored within the boundaries of a hazardous waste landfill before moving that waste from the landfill to its final disposal or removing it for further treatment.

This information is not a substitute for compliance with 40 CFR 268.6, but rather provides additional information in specific situations where hazardous waste is treated and then temporarily stored in batteries inside a landfill allowed with subtitle C, before it is transferred to the operational surface of the landfill or removed for retreatment if necessary. Understanding the correct way of treating hazardous materials that complies with land disposal restrictions is crucial to comply with the laws of the RCRA and, therefore, with federal law, and to keep the environment safe and healthy for both waste workers and citizens. Incineration or other chemical processes are often used to destroy hazardous wastes; however, if these processes are not effective, proper disposal must be ensured through landfilling or underground injection.

Léo Brotman
Léo Brotman

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