Closure and Post-Closure Care for Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs)
- Public comment period on Post Closure Care Guidance extended to July 31, 2015
When a hazardous waste management unit stops receiving waste at the end of its active life, it must be cleaned up, closed, and monitored and maintained in accordance with the RCRA closure and post-closure care requirements. All hazardous waste management units and the treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) at which they are located are subject to the closure and post-closure care requirements found at 40 CFR Part 264/265, Subpart G Closure and Post-Closure (Part 264 applies to permitted facilities and Part 265 applies to facilities in operation before these rules became effective, referred to as “interim status facilities”). The various types of hazardous waste management units (e.g., containers, tanks, landfills, waste piles) are also subject to unit specific closure requirements found in Subparts I through X.
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At treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) were multiple hazardous waste management units are in operation, one unit may cease operation while the remaining units continue operating. This is known as partial closure. The closed units, or inactive portion of the facility are subject to all applicable closure standards. Final closure occurs when all hazardous waste management units cease operation and close according to the regulations.
When closing units or facilities, two approaches are possible clean closure or closure with the waste in place:
- In clean closure, all wastes are removed from the unit and all equipment, structures, and surrounding soils are decontaminated or removed. This approach is required for containers, tanks, waste piles, incinerators, drip pads, and containment buildings. Tanks, waste piles, drip pads, and containment buildings that cannot remove all waste and contamination are considered to be landfills and are forced to comply with the landfill closure requirements. Surface impoundments may also choose to clean close or to close with the waste in place.
- Closing with the waste in place, sometimes referred to as “closure as a landfill,” is the required closure method for landfills, land treatment units, and any other hazardous waste management unit that can not meet the clean closure requirements. As mentioned previously, a surface impoundment may choose this method of closure.
All TSDFs are required to prepare and submit written closure plans. A permitted facility submits this plan as part of its permit application. Once the plan is approved by the permitting agency, it becomes part of the facility’s operating permit. Interim status facilities must have written closure plans within six months of becoming subject to the closure regulations.
All closure plans must include:
- A description of how each hazardous waste management unit will be closed.
- A description of how final closure of the facility will be achieved.
- An estimate of the maximum amount of hazardous waste kept on site during the facility’s operating life.
- A detailed description of closure methods, including waste removal and site decontamination.
- A description of any other required steps, such as groundwater monitoring and leachate management.
- A schedule of closure dates, including closure dates for each unit and the entire facility.
The regulations specify a strict time line for completing closure. This process actually begins before the final shipment of waste is received by a unit or facility with a notification of intent to close. Facilities with landfills, surface impoundments, land treatment units, and waste piles are required to notify the EPA Regional Administrator 60 days prior to the date on which they intend to begin partial or final closure. Facilities with containers, tanks, incinerators, and/or boilers and industrial furnaces must make the notification 45 days in advance.
After a unit receives its last shipment of hazardous waste, it has 30 days to commence closure operations. Within 90 days of receipt of the last shipment, all waste must be removed (if clean closing) or disposed on site (if closing with waste in place). All closure operations must be completed within 180 days of receiving the final waste shipment. In some cases, it may be possible for the facility to receive extensions on the 90- and 180-day deadlines from the EPA Regional Administrator.
After closure operations are complete, the facility has 60 days to certify closure completion by submitting a written certification via registered mail to the EPA Regional Administrator. This certification must be signed by an independent, registered, professional engineer. At the same time (i.e., within 60 days of completing closure), a survey plat indicating the location and dimensions of the closed hazardous waste management unit(s) or facility must be submitted to the EPA Regional Administrator or local zoning authority.
Delay of Closure
Some facilities may be able to delay final closure and continue to receive nonhazardous waste after receipt of the final shipment of hazardous waste. This option is only available to landfills, surface impoundments, and land treatment units. Only units with sufficient excess capacity that receive permission from the EPA Regional Administrator may delay closure.
Post-closure care is required for land disposal units that leave waste in place upon closure (i.e., landfills, land treatment units, surface impoundments, any other hazardous waste management unit that cannot achieve the clean closure standards). These sites must monitor and maintain liners, final covers, leachate collection and removal systems, leak detection systems, and gas collection systems to protect the surrounding environment and population from releases of hazardous constituents. The standard post-closure care period is 30 years, but this can be shortened or extended on a case-by-case basis by the permitting authority (i.e., the EPA Region or the authorized state regulatory agency).
All units and facilities required to provide post-closure care are subject to the general post-closure requirements found at 40 CFR Parts 264/265.116 through 120. Each unit is also subject to unit specific post-closure care requirements found in 40 CFR Part 264/265, Subparts K (Surface Impoundments), L (Waste Piles), M (Land Treatment), N (Landfills), and X (Miscellaneous Units).
All facilities required to provide post-closure care need to obtain a post-closure care permit. In applying for a permit, the facility must complete and submit a post-closure care plan. This plan includes:
- A description of the planned groundwater monitoring program.
- A description of planned maintenance activities for the waste containment systems (e.g., liners, final covers, leachate management systems).
- Contact information during the required post-closure care period.
Once the post-closure care period ends, the facility owner/operator must provide (via registered mail) a certification of post-closure care completion to the EPA Regional Administrator. This certification is due within 60 days of completing post-closure care and must be signed by the facility owner/operator and an independent, registered professional engineer.
Status Update: Draft Post-Closure Care Guidance
The public comment period on EPA's draft "Guidelines for Evaluating and Adjusting the Post-Closure Care Period for Hazardous Waste Disposal Facilities under Subtitle C of RCRA" closed on July 31, 2015. The purpose of this guidance is to assist regulators in evaluating the length of the post-closure care period for hazardous waste disposal facilities subject to Subtitle C of RCRA, and in determining whether it should be adjusted. This draft guidance also provides information to assist facility owners and operators in preparing documentation to support a decision to adjust the post-closure care period. Once finalized, the guidance will lend greater transparency and efficiency to the decision making process.
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EPA received several sets of comments, primarily from state environmental regulators and representatives from the regulated community. Both the draft Guidelines and the comments EPA received are available below:
- Alabama Department of Emergency Management comments (PDF) (13 pp, 236 K)
- American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) comments (PDF) (6 pp, 72 K)
- American Petroleum Institute (API) comments (PDF) (6 pp, 79 K)
- Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials comments (PDF) (8 pp, 5.5 MB)
- Commonwealth of Kentucky Division of Waste Management comments (PDF) (2 pp, 24 K)
- Environmental Technology Council comments (PDF) (13 pp, 160 K)
- G. Fred Lee & Associates comments (PDF) (6 pp, 357 K)
- Georgia Department of Natural Resources comments (PDF) (2 pp, 114 K)
- Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality comments (PDF) (1 pg, 57 K)
- RCRA Corrective Action Project (RCAP) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) joint comments (PDF) (14 pp, 136 K)
- Waste Management comments (PDF) (5 pp, 171 K)
- Watershed Geo comments (PDF) (1 pg, 25 K)
- Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality comments (PDF) (2 pp, 357 K)
EPA will be assessing the comments and using them to inform the development of a final document.
EPA hosted a webinar on Thursday, June 11th, 2015 to provide an overview of the draft Guidelines for Evaluating and Adjusting the Post-Closure Care Period for Hazardous Waste Disposal Facilities under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
During this webinar, EPA provided background on its draft post-closure care guidance, including the purpose and scope of the guidance. The webinar briefly reviewed EPA’s draft criteria and process intended for permitting authorities when making decisions whether to adjust the length of the post-closure care period for a hazardous waste disposal facility. A copy of the presentations slides can be accessed below:
Overview of the Draft Post-Closure Care Guidance (PDF) (24 pp, 1.20 MB)
Notice of Availability of RCRA Closure and Post-Closure Care Cost Estimating Software
Announces the availability of CostPro software intended primarily for the use of EPA and state personnel in evaluating the adequacy of current cost estimates for closure and post-closure care of typical hazardous waste TSDFs.
RCRA Training Module Introduction to Closure/PostClosure (PDF) (16 pp, 142 K) Provides an introduction to the closure and post-closure care requirements for hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal units and facilities.
RCRA Orientation Manual: Chapter 5. Regulations Governing Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (PDF) (36 pp, 681 K) Provides introductory information on the closure and post-closure care requirements for hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.
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