EPA has issued a revised NESHAP standard for municipal solid waste landfills. The new rule reflects EPA’s conclusions regarding the residual risk and technology rule, resolves confusion created when the previous rule was not updated at the same time as the landfill NSPS and updates landfill gas well head criteria for temperature. EPA is also clarifying that the standards are applicable during periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction, and requiring electronic reporting of performance test results.
This action finalizes the residual risk and technology review (RTR) conducted for the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Landfills source category regulated under National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) contained within 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 63, Subpart AAAA. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to:
The EPA is also finalizing minor changes to the MSW Landfills NSPS and Emission Guidelines (EG) and Compliance Times for MSW Landfills contained within 40 CFR Part 60, Subparts XXX and Cf. Specifically, the EPA is finalizing provisions to the most recent MSW Landfills NSPS and EG that would allow affected sources to demonstrate compliance with landfill gas control, operating, monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements by following the corresponding requirements in the MSW Landfills NESHAP. According to EPA, these final amendments will result in improved compliance and implementation of the rule and eliminate some of the confusion created by the previous version of the EPA rule.
We’ve pulled this information from the Final Amendments to Air Toxics Standards for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills and SCS will publish an SCS Technical Bulletin on our blog and social media sites. Please contact your Project Manager for details specific to your operation.
Approximately 738 MSW landfills are subject to the NESHAP.
On February 25, 2020, EPA finalized amendments to the 2003 NESHAP for MSW Landfills. EPA issued air toxics standards for the MSW Landfills source category in 2003 that established emission limitations based on maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for hazardous air pollutants (HAP) from major and area sources.
The rule required MSW landfills greater than 2.5 million megagrams (Mg) and 2.5 million cubic meters with uncontrolled emissions greater than 50 Mg/year of non-methane organic compounds (NMOC) to install and operate a gas collection and control system (GCCS). Most emissions from MSW landfills come from the continuous biodegredation of the MSW. Landfill gas contains methane, carbon dioxide and more than 100 different NMOC, including, but not limited to, vinyl chloride, ethyl benzene, benzene and toluene.
Based on the RTR, EPA is finalizing no changes to the existing standards because the agency determined the risks to be acceptable with an ample margin of safety to protect public health and the environment. In addition, EPA did not identify any new cost-effective emission controls for MSW landfills. However, EPA is finalizing several minor amendments to reorganize and streamline requirements for MSW landfills that will improve the clarity, compliance and implementation of the rule. These include:
The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires EPA to regulate toxic air pollutants, also known as air toxics, from categories of industrial facilities in two phases. The first phase is “technology-based,” where EPA develops standards for controlling the emissions of air toxics from sources in an industry group or “source category.” EPA bases these MACT standards on emission levels that are already being achieved by the best-controlled and lower-emitting sources in an industry. Within 8 years of setting the MACT standards, the CAA directs EPA to assess the remaining health risks from each source category to determine whether the MACT standards protect public health with an ample margin of safety and protect against adverse environmental effects. This second phase is a “risk-based” approach called residual risk. Here, EPA must determine whether more health-protective standards are necessary.
Every 8 years after setting MACT standards, the CAA requires EPA to review and revise the standards, if necessary, to account for improvements in air pollution controls and/or prevention and to address any residual risks that still remain after the MACT is implemented.
The CAA requires EPA to assess the risk remaining after application of the final air toxics emission standards; known as a residual risk assessment. Based on the completed risk assessment, available health information, and associated uncertainties, EPA determined risks from the MSW Landfills source category are acceptable and provide an ample margin of safety to protect public health. EPA estimates the maximum individual lifetime cancer risk for inhalation for the source category to be less than 10-in-1 million.
The CAA requires EPA to assess, review and revise air toxics standards, as necessary, taking into account developments in practices, processes and control technologies. The technology review of the standards for MSW Landfills did not identify any developments that would further reduce HAP emissions beyond the original NESHAP.
Download a copy of the final rule notice from EPA’s website at the following address: https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/municipal-solid-waste-landfills-national-emission-standards.
SCS will publish an SCS Technical Bulletin on our blog and social media sites. Please contact your Project Manager for details specific to your operation.
SCS Customer Support: email@example.com
Over the past 50 years, SCS Engineers has earned a leadership role in solid waste management and environmental services, which would not have been possible without client and industry support. There were few engineering firms specializing in environmental consulting when SCS was founded in 1970.
Today, the firm’s work supports a wide range of environmental solutions in different industries and business sectors. Fifty years ago, no one could have imagined using drones and satellites to collect information to run landfills or businesses in an environmentally safe way. However, as Jim Walsh notes, no one could have imagined a Coronavirus pandemic either; he continues:
Even today, as we are in the midst of a crisis, the likes of which none of us has ever seen in our lifetimes, our clients need us every bit as much, if not even more. In many cases, we operate and maintain critical environmental infrastructure that must continue to operate. In recent days, many of our clients are asking us if we are prepared to continue to serve them now, and as conditions worsen. We’ve said yes, fortunately, because we can and we are ready. We follow health and safety rules and guidance, we have our contingency and communications plans in place, and our employee-owners know how to circle the wagons and move forward prudently as a team.
The firm’s business model has its 70 regional and satellite offices located near client sites with mobile offices co-located on project sites. “The model has always worked well for us,” states Senior Vice President Mike McLaughlin recently. “Our professionals and technicians live nearby; our distributed network means we can drive to project sites instead of flying, for example.”
Amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak, employees are still celebrating, albeit in a different way. Postponing parties and gatherings, employees with their families watched a documentary on April 1 demonstrating the firm’s 50 years of progress and accomplishments. The film features Founder Tom Conrad narrating the firm’s history, and several of the facilities, environmental practices, and technologies in use today, with a look toward tomorrow. “We’re proud of the care and contributions by our colleagues over the years, and now,” stated Bob Gardner, senior vice president. “That sense of responsibility and ownership, along with SCS’s camaraderie, will help see us through.”
The environmental consulting firm started as a partnership between Bob Stearns, Tom Conrad, and Curt Schmidt on April 1, 1970, in Long Beach, California. The three engineers knew and respected each other’s strengths and capabilities: Stearns was an expert in solid waste; Schmidt was a water and wastewater engineer; and Conrad was a jack-of-all-trades with experience in civil engineering, solid waste, water and wastewater.
The firm’s first project was to investigate a subsurface gas problem at a residential subdivision in Palos Verdes, California, and to design a solution. Eight months after SCS was founded, a new federal agency called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created, and SCS performed three of the first research contracts awarded by the new agency. One of those projects was a nationwide study of wastewater generation and treatment by the canned and preserved fruit and vegetable industry. Another was a national study to develop a methodology to compare and select equipment for sanitary landfills. The third was a study of the impact of federal agency regulations, policies, and practices on solid waste generation and recycling; this extensive study involved 12 agencies. To conduct these analyses, Tom Conrad moved from California to open the firm’s second office in Reston, Virginia. With these three contracts, and offices on both coasts, SCS was off and running.
In the mid-1970s, SCS engineered and began operation of two of the nation’s first gas recovery projects: Industry Hills and Ascon, both in Southern California. It was a big leap to get those systems working and commercially producing the gas for beneficial uses. Soon after, the federal government passed legislation to authorize tax credits for landfill gas recovery. Thus began the landfill gas utilization industry. From their experience on these two successful recovery projects and their other landfill gas work, SCS became one of the nation’s leading environmental firms.
Next, the firm designed a solid waste management plan, followed by a hazardous waste management plan, both for the state of Maine. In Seattle, Washington, SCS’s EPA water data management project spurred the use of computers to model water characteristics and stream flows throughout the country. Out of that grew a number of wastewater and water quality-related contracts for the EPA, including calculating the percentage of wastewater in water supplies. The amount of data collected was significant.
Tom Conrad explains:
For each public water supply drawing water from a river downstream from a wastewater treatment plant, the idea was to calculate the percentage of the wastewater in the water at each point. This was “big data” before the phrase was coined.
Current SCS President Jim Walsh describes SCS’s first computer to manage the data. “It had less power than an iPhone today, but it was a powerful computer in its time, and we had a massive amount of data that we would process through it,” he stated. The beginning of data collection performed by SCS for the EPA was an extension of the firm’s water quality and wastewater practice.
SCS’s work in the late 1970s and early 1980s was an outgrowth of a number of federal projects, for example, the Dredged Materials Project for the Corp of Engineers in Vicksburg, Mississippi. SCS professionals developed experience with contaminated sites, leachate, and groundwater pollution. The firm began applying these skills and disciplines to contaminated sites in southern California. SCS conducted a number of projects for public entities and developers where construction was planned for what were the first Brownfields before that term was coined. Basically, SCS was performing Phase I site investigations and Phase II investigations, including groundwater monitoring, soil sampling, and remediation when necessary.
Senior Vice President Mike McLaughlin, who leads the practice, states:
That really was the birth of our Environmental Services practice, which was heavily involved in site characterization, Brownfields development, and redevelopment of contaminated sites, that continues to flourish to this day.
Senior Vice President Bob Gardner further comments:
From our experience in landfill research, we were able to get in on the ground floor of many of the RCRA mandates for containment systems, leachate management, landfill liners, and cover systems. We did a lot of work through the ’80s and ’90s for municipal solid waste landfill permitting and design.
By the late 80’s SCS Engineers had created new practices, under the name SCS Field Services, to perform landfill and landfill gas system construction, operations, monitoring, and maintenance. The firm was proud to offer comprehensive services but knew from their experience that each landfill and solid waste operation is unique. SCS OM&M now operates 24,000 LFG extraction wells and supports over 650 landfills across the nation. SCS Construction is a Class A – General Engineering Contractor with Hazardous Materials Certification. The firm believes that by overlapping design, construction, and operational activities, it has led to the 44 innovations listed as SCS Firsts on their website and saved their clients money.
In 1986, the firm also made a significant and strategic decision to create an employee stock ownership plan.
Tom Conrad explains:
As an ESOP company, our employees own shares in SCS Engineers and all its practices. As founders, we felt that ownership inspires better performance and that our staff deserve control in the decision-making and direction of the company. It has proven to be a successful business model for the firm.
Combining SCS’s expertise in solid waste management, landfills, and regulatory compliance, SCS Energy was created in 2001 to focus on the design and design-build of landfill gas-to-energy (LFGE) systems. SCS now has one of the longest and most successful biogas practices in the United States, primarily in LFGE and digester gas-to-energy (DGE). SCS designs, constructs, and operates more LFGE and DGE facilities than any other engineering firm in the nation.
Growing and expanding its environmental expertise to serve other industries and sectors, the firm now has several specialized practices created along the way, which continue to support businesses and governments.
Tom Conrad feels that among his greatest achievements was the hiring and mentoring of many good people, including Jim Walsh, Mike McLaughlin, and Bob Gardner, in whose capable hands the company continues to grow and thrive. Jim Walsh calls Tom, “The best mentor anyone could ever have.” He went on to say, “Tom taught me a lot, but more, he let me figure things out on my own… I’ve often said that the best four years of education I ever got was not high school or college, it was learning from Tom Conrad 1974 to 1978.”
Over the years, SCS expanded and hired many talented people. They guide the firm, maintaining the founders’ focus on adopting their clients’ environmental challenges as their own and fostering a culture of success for employees by sharing equity ownership. The firm wins multiple awards for its work, helping clients minimize waste generation and effectively manage recycling, collection, and disposal operations, safely clean up contaminated properties or water for reuse, and otherwise find sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.
SCS’s culture attracts professionals with many types of expertise, helping the firm grow organically – it is on track to reach 1,000 employees this year, and has year over year record-breaking revenues. While SCS’s core capabilities are in solid and hazardous waste management, renewable energy, remediation, and environmental compliance, in the last decade, the demand for SCS services expanded into technology, more focus on wastewater and water reuse, composting, sustainable materials management, industrial health & safety, and risk management planning. The firm maintains a deep technical bench, a wide range of industry experts, and vast environmental regulatory systems knowledge that helps clients shorten project timelines and control costs.
Recognizing that industry associations benefit both employees and clients, SCS stays involved and active in hundreds of associations and local communities, serving in leadership roles, funding scholarships, and advancing research.
EREF’s President and CEO, Bryan Staley comments:
Investing in education and high-quality research was paramount to Bob Stearns, one of SCS’s founders, who chaired the Environmental Research and Educational Foundation before his retirement and established the Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship. Those values continue, as does SCS Engineers’ partnership with EREF, with continued service on EREF’s Board of Directors via Jim Walsh, leadership on its Research Council through Bob Gardner (who chaired the Council in 2019) and ongoing support and participation by many SCS personnel in EREF research and educational initiatives.
David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director & CEO states, “SCS Engineers has been a leader in SWANA for decades, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the company as we implement our vision to turn waste into a resource.”
SCS is producing technologies and programs that help clients lower operating costs and reduce their environmental impact. The technologies and applications used at landfills are finding footholds in agriculture, industry, and manufacturing as well as municipalities. These advances help achieve infrastructure that runs more efficiently and supports companies transitioning to renewable energy resources while limiting added expense to consumers.
SCS clients entrust the firm with the management of more than 35 million metric tons of anthropogenic CO2e greenhouse gases every year. The firm collects and beneficially uses or destroys enough methane to offset greenhouse gas emissions from 7.4 million passenger cars annually.
These figures do not include the emission reductions achieved by waste diversion, recycling, and repurposing wastes into useful products such as Renewable Natural Gas, compost, or supporting municipal programs that send perfectly edible food to those in need.
“We attribute our success to our loyal clients who entrust us to address the complexities of environmental challenges,” stated Jim Walsh, president, and CEO. “We are proud of our employee-owners who create the technologies, practices, and systems that make a sustainable, positive impact.”
Earth Day is also celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year – the first Earth Day took place just a few weeks after SCS started. Postponing parties and Earth Day events, some celebratory plans continue as the SCS employee-owners celebrate virtually for now with a documentary film, anniversary lapel buttons packaged with hand sanitizer, office plaques, and continued collaboration.
EPA issued a temporary enforcement policy related to civil non-compliance events attributable to COVID-19. EPA recognizes that responses to the pandemic:
…may affect facility operations, and the availability of key staff and contractors and the ability of laboratories to timely analyze samples and provide results. As a result, there may be constraints on the ability of a facility or laboratory to carry out certain activities required by our federal environmental permits, regulations, and statutes. These consequences may affect reporting obligations and milestones set forth in settlements and consent decrees. Finally, these consequences may affect the ability of an operation to meet enforceable limitations on air emissions and water discharges, requirements for the management of hazardous waste, or requirements to ensure and provide safe drinking water.
EPA will provide enforcement discretion for civil infractions, as described in the policy, provided certain conditions are met, including:
The policy also details when reporting of non-compliance is required and addresses specific issues of importance to waste generation, including circumstances when storing hazardous waste beyond generator deadlines.
The policy will apply retroactively to March 13.
National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Stationary Combustion Turbines Residual Risk and Technology Review 40 CFR Part 63
This action finalizes the residual risk and technology review (RTR) conducted for the Stationary Combustion Turbines source category regulated under national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP). In addition, EPA is taking final action addressing requirements during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM)
and to add electronic reporting requirements.
The EPA is finalizing its proposed determination that the risks from this source category due to emissions of air toxics are acceptable and that the existing NESHAP provides an ample margin of safety to protect public health. The EPA is also finalizing its proposed determination that EPA identified no new cost-effective controls under the technology review that would achieve further emissions reductions from the source category.
This final rule is effective on March 9, 2020. The incorporation by reference (IBR) of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of March 9, 2020.
For questions about this final action and electronic reporting requirements, contact:
Melanie King, Sector Policies and Programs Division (D243-01), Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, email
For specific information regarding the risk modeling methodology, contact Mark Morris, Health and Environmental Impacts Division (C539-02), Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the applicability of the Stationary Combustion Turbines NESHAP to a particular entity, contact Sara Ayres, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, email address: email@example.com.
Reprint of Press Release: EPA and Partners Announce Collaborative Implementation of the National Water Reuse Action Plan
WASHINGTON Feb. 27, 2020 — Today, at an event at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Mary B. Neumayr joined federal, state, tribal, local and water sector partners to announce the National Water Reuse Action Plan: Collaborative Implementation (Version 1). The actions that EPA and its partners commit to in the Action Plan will help strengthen the sustainability, security and resilience of our nation’s water resources by creating new partnerships, providing accountability and promoting communication and transparency with a new online platform.
“A reliable water reuse program provides great opportunity for alternatives to existing water supplies across the nation to enhance water security, sustainability, and resilience for communities, rural and urban alike, across the country,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “By launching this phase of the National Water Reuse Action Plan, federal agencies are driving progress on this national priority and delivering on President Trump’s commitment to ensuring a reliable supply of water for our nation.”
“Under President Trump’s leadership, we are pursuing an aggressive approach to ensuring reliable and secure water delivery—driven by modern technology and the best possible science. As our water users are preparing for the future—by strengthening their own water systems and integrating new technologies—collaboration across federal partners is critical to supporting rural and urban water users alike. The National Water Reuse Action Plan will guide the Administration’s efforts to provide safe, affordable, and reliable water to the American people,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.
“President Trump and his Administration are committed to making it easier for farmers to succeed and to ensure they are the most innovative in the world. Administrator Wheeler’s action plan on water reuse will help inspire creative, problem-solving that boosts production on farms, ranches, and private forests – ultimately improving water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“As we pursue practical approaches to address our nation’s most pressing environmental challenges, including water scarcity, this Administration strongly supports developing modern, resilient infrastructure to effectively manage our nation’s water resources,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Mary B. Neumayr. “One way to support our nation’s communities, economy and environment is by continuing to develop additional opportunities for water reuse to promote safe and reliable water supplies for our homes, businesses, agricultural communities, recreation, and healthy ecosystems. The National Water Reuse Action Plan is a practical example of agencies coming together to improve use of technology to increase water reliability and better manage our nation’s water resources.”
“The Department of Energy is delighted to support EPA’s efforts on the National Water Reuse Action Plan through our Water Security Grand Challenge,” said U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R. Simmons. “Water is a critical resource for human health, economic growth, and agricultural productivity. We are calling on the power of competition and drawing on the strengths of our partners and stakeholders to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water.”
“Our nation is blessed with abundant access to safe and reliable water sources throughout our country. However, as our country and economy continues to expand, we must ensure that this reliability continues for future generations. I am pleased the administration has taken a forward-looking approach to include federal, state and tribal agencies, along with a multitude of diverse stakeholders, to put out the WRAP. It is an example of the good that comes when government and the private sector work together to lay out practical suggestions to steward our natural resources well,” said Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04).
“Finding new ways to preserve and protect water in Oklahoma is one of our top priorities as a state. Today’s release of the “Water Reuse Action Plan” shows that the federal government is serious about leading in their mission to assist all 50 states as well as sovereign tribal nations in developing valuable resources out of previously worthless water. These goals cannot happen without the full partnership of states, tribes, local governments and our federal partners across all agencies working together. Kudos to the Trump Administration and Administrator Wheeler for their leadership in this important endeavor,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Energy & Environment Ken Wagner.
“The U.S. Department of State is excited to use the WRAP as a tool to raise awareness about water reuse around the world. By encouraging partner governments to adopt water re-use policies, management approaches, and new technologies – many of which were made here in America – the State Department is helping to implement the President’s Global Water Strategy. And, through our outreach efforts, all of the people and agencies who contributed to the WRAP are also helping to make other nations more water-secure,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Marcia Bernicat.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to work with its federal partners and local sponsors to identify opportunities and include water reuse features in congressionally authorized Civil Works projects,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Ryan Fisher.
Over the next decade, 40 states anticipate some freshwater shortages within their borders. The Action Plan supports the President’s memorandum on Promoting a Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West and will help advance water reuse technology that has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come. The Action Plan is a collaborative effort that represents the first initiative of its magnitude to be coordinated across the water sector and builds on more than four decades of water reuse experience and practice. It frames the business case that water reuse is a viable and growing means of supporting our economy and improving the availability of freshwater for farmers, industry, communities, and ecosystems. The Action Plan identifies 37 specific actions across 11 strategic themes to be led by a spectrum of federal, state, local and private sector interests. The Action Plan reflects new partnerships, generates action through more than 200 initial implementation milestones and provides accountability through transparency and routine progress updates.
For more information, including opportunities to engage with EPA on this effort and to find implementation progress updates, visit: https://www.epa.gov/waterreuse/water-reuse-action-plan
Produced water and flowback water are generated from the CBM, shale gas, and shale oil wells. Produced water is water that is withdrawn from the coal seam and shale through the vertical wells drilled into the coal seam and shale in order to release the hydrostatic pressure to enable gas/oil collection at the surface.
Flowback water is used to fracture coal seam cleats and shale in order to open the fissures that enable the release of the gas from the formation if the natural fissures are not fully developed. This water is pumped into the formation and then eventually collected at the surface in a manner similar to the collection of the produced water.
SCS Engineers employs several technologies to reuse, or at the end of the reuse cycle, dispose of production and flowback water.
Reprint of USEPA Press Release dated January 21, 2020
LAS VEGAS (Jan. 21, 2020) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the addition of six new U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions. These champions are U.S. businesses and organizations pledging to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations by 50 percent by the year 2030. New champions in 2019 and announced today include: Browns Superstores, Compass Group, Giant Eagle, Hello Fresh, Las Vegas Sands, and The Wendy’s Company.
“Food products make up 22 percent of municipal solid waste sent to our nation’s landfills annually and working with my partners at USDA, we are challenging American businesses and consumers to reduce food waste,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The commitments made by these organizations in joining the Champions program will help propel the U.S. one step closer towards meeting the national goal of reducing food waste and loss 50 percent by 2030.”
“Businesses across the country are stepping up to reduce food loss and waste,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We applaud the manufacturers, grocers, restaurants, and other businesses that have made a commitment to reduce food loss and waste in their operations, and we call on more businesses to become U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions.”
“The elimination of food waste has been a critical component of our Sands ECO360 sustainability plan,” said Las Vegas Sands Senior Vice President of Global Sustainability Katarina Tesarova. “While this is definitely an environmental issue, it is also a social and economic issue. Not only does wasted food end up in the landfill, but there are other implications as well. For instance, we continue to focus on new ways to get excess unserved food to those in the community who are food insecure.”
The six new Champions join the list of existing 2030 Champions, which include: Ahold Delhaize, Aramark, Blue Apron, Bon Appetit, Campbells, ConAgra, Farmstead, General Mills, Hilton, Kellogg’s, Kroger, Marley Spoon, MGM Resorts, Mom’s Organic Market, Pepsico, Sodexo, Sprouts, Unilever, Walmart, Wegmans, Weis, Whitsons and Yum! Brands.
Cutting food waste in half by 2030 will take a sustained commitment from everyone. Success requires action from the entire food system including the food industry, and the U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Champions group can help lead the way. Details on becoming a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion can be found at www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste and www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food.
Businesses not in a position to make the 50 percent reduction commitment may be interested in participating in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-frc. State, local, tribal and territorial governments interested in making a commitment to food waste reduction can sign the Winning on Reducing Food Waste pledge.
Facts about food waste:
EPA estimates that more food (over 75 billion pounds) reaches landfills and combustion facilities than any other material in everyday trash, constituting 22% of discarded municipal solid waste. [Waste association stats are higher at 30%]
Landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.
Ongoing Federal Efforts:
EPA has taken significant measures to highlight the need to reduce food waste nationally. In October 2018, EPA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and USDA signed a formal agreement to align efforts across the federal government to educate consumers, engage stakeholders, and develop and evaluate solutions to food loss and waste.
The agencies launched “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month” in April 2019 with a Presidential Message from President Trump encouraging public action and participation from all sectors.
During the month of April 2019, Administrator Wheeler and leadership from USDA and FDA convened a summit at EPA bringing state and local stakeholders together to form partnerships with leading food waste reduction non-governmental organizations. At this event, over 30 governmental organizations signed onto a new pledge in which state, local, tribal and territorial government organizations solidified interest in working with the federal government to continue to build upon existing efforts back home to reduce food loss and waste. Also at the summit, EPA announced $110,000 in funding for food waste management and infrastructure projects (to expand anaerobic digestion capacity) in Wisconsin, Vermont, and Washington. EPA also opened a Small Business Innovation Research Grants program solicitation in 2019, which included “preventing food waste” as a topic.
Utilities face many challenges as they move forward developing programs to deal with disposal or recycling of coal combustion residuals (CCR). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed changes to the 2015-enacted federal coal ash rule and issued a proposed Federal permitting program rule for CCR.
SCS Engineers closely follows developments relating to coal ash disposal. The company works with landfill operators, utilities, and others who deal with CCR to meet the challenges of proper waste management as federal, state, and local regulations evolve.
In addition to evaluating the impact of proposed rule changes and permitting programs, many utilities are currently working to address groundwater impacts from CCR units monitored under the current Federal CCR rules (40 CFR 257 Subpart D—Standards for the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals in Landfills and Surface Impoundments). Based on timing in the CCR rule, utilities have recently completed an Assessment of Corrective Measures (ACM) for groundwater impacts and are working on selecting a remedy for the groundwater impacts identified.
The remedies for CCR units not already closed include some form of source control, along with strategies to limit impacts to groundwater. The most prevalent remedies today include closure-in-place, or cap-in-place, of coal ash storage sites, or closure-by-removal, in which CCR is dewatered and excavated, then transported to a lined landfill.
“The answer to this question is wide and varied,” said Eric Nelson, a vice president with SCS. Nelson is one of the company’s national experts for electric utilities, and an experienced engineer and hydrogeologist. “In part, it depends on the situation” Nelson noted that remedies for disposal of waste such as CCR from power plants could differ from the disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) or everyday trash.
“Is the landfill or impoundment already closed or capped, is it active or inactive, what type of CCR or waste (is being disposed of)?” Nelson said. “Then there’s the physical setting, the geology, the receptors or lack of receptors. My opinion is that the industry is in a tough spot because the remedy selection process is strongly influenced by opinion and widely varied regulatory climates.”
“For instance, selecting a remedy, which in many cases will include closing a surface impoundment, that leaves CCR in place feels risky to some due to what is happening in places like the Carolinas and Virginia,” Nelson said. “Anything short of exhumation and re-disposal seems to be cast as insufficient by some when closure in place is a tested and proven response in other arenas [such as MSW]. A one-size-fits-all solution isn’t appropriate.”
Some utilities have moved forward with complete excavation, removing ash, and re-disposing it in a lined landfill. Some of these projects have likely been influenced by local efforts to dictate the remedy selection process through negotiation or legislation. The fact that some utilities have selected closure-by-removal does not mean this remedy is suitable in all situations.
Sherren Clark, vice president and Solid Waste Services Division leader for the Upper Midwest Region of SCS, said: “In terms of remedy selection, one key difference between MSW and CCR sites has been that for CCR sites, total CCR removal is an option that has been put on the table, and is being implemented at some sites, both small and large. For MSW, total waste removal has very rarely been the chosen approach and has typically been thought of as infeasible unless there were other financial drivers supporting that choice. The typical approaches for MSW sites have focused on source control options, such as an improved cap or enhanced landfill gas collection systems.”
Nelson said that engineers working on plans for CCR disposal could look at what’s been done at MSW sites.
“We might discuss the various approaches to corrective action that are described in some early guidance for MSW work,” Nelson said, pointing to EPA Technical Manual EPA530-R-93-017, which deals with solid waste disposal facility criteria and addresses active remediation, plume containment, and source control. “I believe there are significant guidance and experience we can draw from the MSW arena on the different remedies and how to evaluate them.”
Nelson said that “potential remedies must be evaluated according to the requirements in 40 CFR 257.96 and 257.97,” which are EPA rules outlined in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR). Part 257 details Criteria for Classification of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and Practices, including Subpart D-Standards for the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals in Landfills and Surface Impoundments, including groundwater monitoring and corrective action. Section 257.96 deals with ACMs. Nelson notes an important distinction with this approach: “One important note is that cost cannot be considered as it is in the similar rules for MSW.”
Jennifer Robb, vice president and project director with SCS’s Solid Waste Services Division in Reston, Virginia, said programs for the disposal of MSW “are pretty much identical to the process a [CCR] site has to go through. The only difference is the constituents they sample the groundwater for. The CCR sites, they’re going to have an issue with metals. The big problem with that is, a lot of the metals are naturally occurring.”
Robb noted that’s where the alternate source demonstration (ASD) comes in, to determine the source of contaminants, and whether a CCR pond or other ash storage facility is responsible for causing levels of contaminants to excess groundwater protection standards.
Evolving Regulatory Landscape
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a streamlined, efficient federal permitting program for the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR) in surface impoundments and landfills, which includes electronic permitting. The new rules are designed to offer utilities more flexibility and provide regulatory clarity.
(1) In August 2019, EPA proposed amendments to CCR regulations that encourage appropriate beneficial re-use and clarity on managing coal ash piles. The proposal would also enhance transparency by making facility information more readily available to the public.
(2) A November 4, 2019, proposal establishes August 2020 as the date for utilities to stop receipt of waste in affected impoundments. It gives utilities the ability to demonstrate the need to develop new, environmentally protective waste disposal technology subject to EPA approval.
(3) On December 19, 2019, EPA proposed a federal permitting program for coal ash disposal units. The proposal includes requirements for federal CCR permit applications, content, and modification, as well as procedural requirements. EPA would implement the permit program at CCR units in states that have not submitted their own CCR permit program for approval. EPA already accepted and approved state permitting programs in Oklahoma and Georgia and is working with others to develop their programs. On December 16, 2019, the EPA Administrator signed a Federal Register notice approving Georgia’s state permit program for the management of CCR.
The November proposal addresses the deadline to stop accepting waste for unlined surface impoundments managing coal ash. It includes a new date of August 31, 2020, for facilities to stop placing waste into these units and either retrofit them or begin closure. The proposal would allow certain facilities additional time to develop an alternate capacity to manage their waste streams before initiating closure of surface impoundments. It would also re-classify clay-lined surface impoundments from “lined” to “unlined,” which means that clay-lined impoundments would have to be retrofitted or closed. Under the proposal, all unlined units would have to be retrofitted or close, not just those that detect groundwater contamination above regulatory levels.
The 60-day comment period on the November proposal closes January 31, 2020. The EPA will conduct a virtual public hearing about the proposed rule on January 7, 2020, at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Register for the meeting to learn more. A 60-day comment period for the proposed federal permitting program will begin once the rule is published in the Federal Register.
This blog series highlighting the experience and expertise of SCS Engineers staff will continue with a look at examples of remedies for coal ash disposal and storage. If you have questions, contact the authors by selecting one of their names, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprint of USEPA Press Release dated today.
WASHINGTON (Dec. 19, 2019) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took another key step in implementing the agency’s PFAS Action Plan by announcing a new validated method for testing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. This new validated test method complements other actions the agency is taking under the Action Plan to help communities address PFAS nationwide.
“EPA’s important scientific advancement makes it possible for both government and private laboratories to effectively measure more PFAS chemicals in drinking water than ever before,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We can now measure 29 chemicals, marking a critical step in implementing the agency’s PFAS Action Plan—the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical of concern.”
EPA’s new validated Method 533 focuses on “short chain” PFAS, those PFAS with carbon chain lengths of four to 12. Method 533 complements EPA Method 537.1 and can be used to test for 11 additional PFAS.
Method 533 accomplishes a key milestone in the EPA PFAS Action Plan by meeting the agency’s commitment to develop new validated methods to accurately test for additional PFAS in drinking water. Method 533 also incorporates an analytical technique called isotope dilution, which can minimize sample matrix interference and improve data quality.
REPRINT OF USEPA PRESS RELEASE
EPA Moves Forward on Key Drinking Water Priority Under PFAS Action Plan
WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2019) — Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the proposed regulatory determination for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. This step is an important part of EPA’s extensive efforts under the PFAS Action Plan to help communities address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) nationwide.
“Under President Trump, EPA is continuing to aggressively implement our PFAS Action Plan – the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With today’s action, EPA is following through on its commitment in the Action Plan to evaluate PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act.”
The action will provide proposed determinations for at least five contaminants listed on the fourth Contaminant Candidate List (CCL4), including PFOA and PFOS, in compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
The Safe Drinking Water Act establishes robust scientific and public participation processes that guide EPA’s development of regulations for unregulated contaminants that may present a risk to public health. Every five years, EPA must publish a list of contaminants, known as the Contaminant Candidate List or CCL, that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and are not currently subject to EPA drinking water regulations. EPA publishes draft CCLs for public comment and considers those prior to issuing final lists.
After issuing the final CCL, EPA determines whether or not to regulate five or more contaminants on the CCL through a process known as a Regulatory Determination. EPA publishes preliminary regulatory determinations for public comment and considers those comments prior to making final regulatory determinations. If EPA makes a positive regulatory determination for any contaminant, it will begin the process to establish a national primary drinking water regulation for that contaminant.
For more information: www.epa.gov/ccl
Background on the PFAS Action Plan
PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals used in consumer products and industrial processes. In use since the 1940s, PFAS are resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease, and water—properties which contribute to their persistence in the environment.
The agency’s PFAS Action Plan is the first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management and risk communication plan to address a challenge like PFAS. The plan responds to the extensive public input the agency received during the PFAS National Leadership Summit, multiple community engagements, and through the public docket. The PFAS Action Plan outlines the tools EPA is developing to assist states, tribes, and communities in addressing PFAS.
EPA is taking the following highlighted actions:
Highlighted Action: Drinking Water
Highlighted Action: Cleanup
Highlighted Action: Monitoring
Highlighted Action: Toxics
Highlighted Action: Surface Water Protection
Highlighted Action: Biosolids
Highlighted Action: Research
The agency is also validating analytical methods for surface water, ground water, wastewater, soils, sediments and biosolids; developing new methods to test for PFAS in air and emissions; and improving laboratory methods to discover unknown PFAS.
Highlighted Action: Enforcement
Highlighted Action: Risk Communications
For more information, article, and treatment options visit SCS Engineers.
Proposed Amendments to the Coal Ash Regulations, Public Hearing Registration Open
EPA is proposing further amendments to the regulations governing the disposal of coal combustion residuals, commonly known as coal ash.
The proposal addresses two issues remanded by the courts back to EPA for action. EPA is proposing a modification to one of the criteria used to determine if coal ash is being beneficially used or would be considered disposal. The second proposed change is to the requirements for managing piles of coal ash. Other proposed changes include revisions to enhance public access to information.
In addition to accepting written comments on this proposal, EPA is holding two public hearings – one in person in Arlington, Virginia on October 2, 2019, and a second one that will be held virtually.
To learn more about this proposal and the public hearings, learn how to comment and register to speak or observe, visit: https://www.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-rule#July2019proposal.
Upcoming e-Manifest Fiscal Years 2020-2021 User Fees
EPA announced the new e-Manifest user fees for fiscal years 2020-2021 (October 1, 2019-September 30, 2021). These user fees are set based on the manifest usage and processing costs for each manifest type.
EPA encourages the hazardous waste industry to adopt fully-electronic manifesting as soon as possible so that industry members can take maximum advantage of the benefits and cost savings of electronic manifesting. However, EPA acknowledges that it will take time for industries and receiving facilities to fully transition to electronic manifests. EPA supports the wide adoption of electronic manifesting by the regulated community as soon as it is feasible.
For more information and to view the new user fees, visit https://www.epa.gov/e-manifest/e-manifest-user-fees-and-payment-information#2020fees.
Comment Period Open for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 108(b) Electric Power Industry Proposal
EPA is seeking public comment on a proposed rule not imposing financial responsibility requirements under CERCLA Section 108(b) for Electric Power Generation, Transportation, and Distribution facilities.
The comment period for the proposed changes is open for 60 days, through September 27, 2019. To learn more, view the proposal, and how to submit comments visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/proposed-action-financial-responsibility-requirements-under-cercla-section-108b-classes.
Incremental Sampling Methodology (ISM) at PCB Cleanup Sites
ISM has been shown to be a valid and effective method for determining the concentrations of contaminants, including PCBs, in heterogeneous soils when designed appropriately. This document has a brief description of ISM and provides EPA’s policy of reviewing and approving site-specific applications to use ISM at PCB cleanup sites: https://www.epa.gov/pcbs/incremental-sampling-methodology-ism-pcb-cleanup-sites.
New and Updated Pharmaceutical Frequent Questions Posted
EPA recently updated several frequent questions about the final rule establishing management standards for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and amending the P075 listing for nicotine. Additionally, EPA added a section about the sewer ban, which was effective August 21, 2019.
Check out the frequent questions out here: https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/frequent-questions-about-management-standards-hazardous-waste-pharmaceuticals-and.
Use these EPA resources to learn more, or contact SCS at email@example.com and we’ll help answer your questions.