Navigating PFAS Compliance: Landfills and RCRA

February 19, 2024

EPA proposes adding nine PFAS compounds to the list of “hazardous constituents” to be considered in RCRA facility assessments.


In response to its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated two regulatory actions under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to tackle PFAS pollution. Once implemented, these measures will empower federal and state agencies with advanced tools for PFAS remediation.

The initial proposed regulation intends to designate specific PFAS as “hazardous constituents” within RCRA’s framework, making them subject to detailed scrutiny and cleanup actions at sites handling hazardous waste.

The second proposed rule aims to affirm that new contaminants, including certain PFAS that are not currently classified as “hazardous wastes” yet align with the definition of “hazardous waste” in RCRA section 1004(5), should be managed equivalently to traditional hazardous wastes in the context of corrective actions. Listing these PFAS as RCRA hazardous constituents does not make them, or the wastes containing them, RCRA hazardous wastes.

rcra landfill
Appendix VIII to Part 261 – Hazardous Constituents

On February 8, 2024, the EPA proposed to add nine PFAS compounds to the list of “hazardous constituents” to be considered “in RCRA facility assessments and, where necessary, further investigation and cleanup through the RCRA corrective action process.” Appendix VIII to Part 261 – Hazardous Constituents shown at right.

If finalized, this hazardous constituent listing would form part of the basis for any future action the EPA may take to list these substances as hazardous waste.

EPA’s criteria for listing substances as hazardous constituents under RCRA require that they have been shown in scientific studies to have toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic effects on humans or other life forms.

Entities potentially affected by the proposed rule include hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) with solid waste management units (SWMUs) that have released or could release any of the PFAS proposed to be listed as RCRA hazardous constituents. EPA has identified 1,740 such facilities, which could be subject to additional corrective action requirements. “Waste Management and Remediation Services” had the highest number of facilities (359) with a high likelihood of handling PFAS.

The primary goal of the suggested amendment is to update 40 CFR 264.101 so that it accurately mirrors the requirements for corrective action cleanups at hazardous waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) as specified by RCRA sections 3004(u) and (v). The modifications are designed to clarify that the management of hazardous waste releases, including those not categorized as hazardous under current regulations but fitting the broader definition in RCRA section 1004(5), should adhere to the established protocols for hazardous waste under the corrective action program. Focusing on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), this regulatory action is a crucial part of the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

Should this proposed regulation be adopted, it would mean that PFAS would be specifically included as hazardous constituents to be considered during facility assessments and, where necessary, further investigation and cleanup under the RCRA corrective action process at hazardous waste TSDFs.

The proposed regulation states that “solid waste disposal facilities, such as those for municipal waste or construction and demolition debris, would not be subject to RCRA corrective action requirements unless they also function as hazardous waste TSDFs.”

Subtitle D of RCRA covers non-hazardous solid waste management, including municipal solid waste landfills, which are subject to different regulations than hazardous waste facilities (regulated under Subtitle C).

Although the recent proposal by the EPA to revise RCRA does not aim at mandating corrective actions at municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills, it sets the stage for probable future amendments under Subtitle C that might classify certain PFAS-containing waste streams, currently considered non-hazardous, as hazardous waste (e.g., listed or characteristic wastes).

While it is premature to predict the impact of future hazardous waste regulations on MSW landfills, it is appropriate to begin collecting information on PFAS waste and assessing potential effects now. Landfills that have implemented special waste review programs (for example, for non-hazardous industrial wastes like wastewater treatment sludge) are advised to expand their waste characterization efforts within these programs to include requests for data on the presence and concentration of the nine PFAS constituents highlighted in the proposed RCRA rule. Additionally, landfills without such review programs are encouraged to consider establishing them.


Additional Resources/Legislation:

  • The proposed rule would be established under the authority of sections 3004(u) and (v) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965, as amended by subsequent enactments including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), as amended by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (HWSA).
  • This proposed rulemaking is in response to the three petitions and, if finalized, will list specific PFAS as RCRA hazardous constituents subject to corrective action requirements at hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs).
  • PFAS: Landfills and CERCLA
  • PFAS: Landfill Compliance
  • Technical Bulletin: EPA Proposes 9 PFAS Hazardous Constituents Under RCRA


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Jeff MarshallJeff Marshall, PE, is a Vice President of SCS Engineers, Environmental Services Practice Leader for SCS offices in the Mid-Atlantic region, and our National Expert on Emerging Contaminants and Innovative Technologies. His four decades of experience include a diversified project engineering and management background, emphasizing environmental chemistry, hazardous materials, waste, and human health risk issues. Focus areas include environmental permitting, regulatory compliance, and hazardous materials treatment and remediation. He is a licensed professional engineer in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.






Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am