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Fossil Fuel Combustion Waste
Fossil fuel combustion (FFC) wastes are the wastes produced from the burning of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, oil, natural gas). This includes all ash, slag, and particulates removed from flue gas. FFC wastes are categorized by EPA as a "special waste" and have been exempted from federal hazardous waste regulations under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In addressing the regulatory status of FFC wastes, EPA divided the wastes into two categories:
- Large-volume coal combustion wastes generated at electric utility and independent power producing facilities that are managed separately.
- All remaining FFC wastes, including:
- Large-volume coal combustion waste generated at electric utility and independent power producing facilities that are co-managed with certain other coal combustion wastes (referred to as "comanaged wastes").
- Coal combustion wastes generated at non-utilities.
- Coal combustion wastes generated at facilities with fluidized bed combustion technology.
- Petroleum coke combustion wastes.
- Waste from the combustion of mixtures of coal and other fuels.
- Waste from the combustion of oil.
- Waste from the combustion of natural gas.
In two separate regulatory determinations (in 1993 and in 2000), EPA determined that neither large-volume wastes, nor the remaining FFC wastes, warrant regulation as a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of RCRA and therefore remain excluded under 40 CFR §261.4(b)(4). EPA determined that coal combustion wastes, also known as coal combustion residuals (CCRs) that are disposed in landfills and surface impoundments should be regulated under Subtitle D of RCRA (i.e., the solid waste regulations). On December 19, 2014, EPA finalized national regulations to provide a comprehensive set of requirements for the safe disposal of CCRs.
EPA also determined in 2000 that CCRs used to fill surface or underground mines (minefill) should be regulated under authority of Subtitle D of RCRA, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), or a combination of these authorities. The December 19, 2014, final regulation on CCR disposal do not apply to CCR placed in active or abandoned underground or surface coal mines; however, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and EPA will address the management of CCR in minefills in a separate regulatory action.
This page provides an outline of the legislative and regulatory history and current status of the FFC waste exemption. Links to key regulatory and technical documents are also provided.
Supporting Technical Documents
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
See also Legislative History.
EPA Minefill Regulatory Concerns, Draft - August 14, 2003 (PDF) (11 pp, 70K)
This document provides EPA's issues of regulatory concerns along with the pertinent RCRA citations and SMCRA approach.
Regulation and Policy Concerning Mine Placement of CCW in Selected States, Final Draft - December 2002 (PDF) (164 pp, 525K)
This report reviews and summarizes current state regulations and policy concerning the placement of coal combustion wastes (CCW) in surface and underground mines.
Mine Placement of CCW: State Program Elements Analysis, Final Draft - December 2002 (PDF) (23 pp, 278K)
This document summarizes (in tables) elements of state regulatory programs applicable to the placement of coal combustion waste (CCW) in surface or underground mines. This document does not comment on the adequacy of individual state programs.
U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement CCB Information Network The goal of the CCB Information Network is to provide access to scientific and technical literature, researchers, and resources related to coal combustion by-products and coal mining.