EPA is proposing to regulate coal ash to address the risks from the disposal of the wastes generated by electric utilities and independent power producers.
EPA's Regulatory Determinations
EPA conducted two regulatory determinations on the management and use of coal combustion products, in 1993 (PDF) (75 pp, 216K, about PDF) and in 2000 (PDF) (25 pp, 324K, about PDF). As part of these regulatory determinations, EPA evaluated the
- The source and volume of coal combustion products generated per year.
- Current disposal practices.
- Potential danger, if any, to human health or the environment from the disposal of coal combustion products.
- Documented cases in which danger to human health or the environment has been proved.
- Alternatives to current disposal methods.
- The costs of such alternatives.
- The impact of those alternatives on the use of natural resources.
- The current and potential utilization of coal combustion products.
In conducting these two regulatory determinations, EPA did not identify any environmental harm associated with the beneficial use of coal combustion products and concluded in both determinations that these materials did not warrant regulation as a hazardous waste. The beneficial use of coal combustion products can include both encapsulated and unencapsulated applications. EPA recognizes that unencapsulated uses of coal combustion product require proper hydrogeologic evaluation to ensure adequate groundwater protection. The 2000 regulatory determination recommended a separate review addressing the use of coal combustion wastes as fill for surface or underground mines, which is currently underway.