Final Rule - January 2, 2008
In August 1998, EPA promulgated an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials generated at a petroleum refinery, that are recycled by being re-inserted back into the petroleum refining process (63 FR 42110). EPA proposed in March 2002 a separate conditional exclusion for these same materials that added gasification to the list of recognized petroleum refining processes (67 FR 13684). As part of the 2002 proposal, EPA also solicited comment on an additional option to expand the proposed exclusion to all hazardous secondary material generated by other industrial sectors when processed in a gasification system for the production of synthesis gas.
EPA is finalizing the exclusion for oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials generated at a petroleum refinery so that the gasification of these materials will have the same regulatory status (i.e., excluded) as other oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials reinserted into the petroleum refining process. The proposed broader exclusion has not been included as part of this rulemaking and is still under consideration by the Agency.
By allowing certain secondary materials to be recycled for additional fuel production, EPA is helping petroleum refineries to reduce waste and capture more energy from each barrel of oil.
- Federal Register Notice - January 2, 2008 || Federal Register Notice (PDF) (16 pp, 213K, About PDF)
- Fact Sheet || Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 101K, About PDF)
- Press Release
- Frequent Questions
- How is EPA expanding this exclusion?
- Why is the Agency finalizing this rule?
- Can you describe what gasification is?
- Are gasification systems used extensively at petroleum refineries in the U.S.?
- How many petroleum refineries could be affected by this rule?
- What are the economic benefits of the rule?
1. RCRA already excludes oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials under 40 CFR 261.4(a)(12)(i) when they are re-inserted back into the petroleum refining process. How is EPA expanding this exclusion?
EPA is amending 40 CFR 261.4(a)(12)(i) by adding gasification to the list of recognized petroleum refining processes. Gasification joins fractionation, distillation and catalytic cracking as processes that are integral components of petroleum refining. We are finalizing this change so that the gasification of oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials have the same regulatory status (i.e., excluded) as other oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials that are re-inserted into the petroleum refining process. This action, serves what we believe is a national interest, i.e., capturing as much energy from a barrel of oil as possible to maximize production efficiencies at petroleum refineries in an energy constrained world.
We believe that gasification systems operating at petroleum refineries that process oil-bearing hazardous secondary material are better viewed as a production or manufacturing operation rather than a hazardous waste management activity. By allowing these materials to be recycled for additional fuel production, EPA is helping to achieve greater energy and manufacturing efficiencies in petroleum refining while reducing the amount of waste generated.
Gasification is a chemical process that converts carbon-containing material into a synthesis gas that can be used for energy production or as a building block for other chemical manufacturing process. Gasifiers operate at high temperatures and pressure in a oxygen limited environment. Gasification is a chemical process, not a combustion process. The synthesis gas product from the gasifier is comprised primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen and is similar to natural gas. Gasification also can produce a concentrated carbon dioxide stream that may have a significant role in carbon sequestration in the future.
Petroleum-refinery based gasification systems are currently in limited use in the U. S.; however, interest in developing these systems is on the rise. Many factors may be contributing to this interest, but we believe it is most likely related to the increasing cost of natural gas, an increasing interest in maximizing manufacturing efficiencies, manufacturing cleaner fuels, and reducing the generation of waste. We believe it is important to promote, with the promulgation of this rule, the use of a technologically advanced method of fuel production.
The central conclusion of our analysis is that approximately 324,300 tons of oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials generated by 152 refineries could potentially qualify for the exclusion each year.
The EPA proposed revisions to the RCRA hazardous waste program to allow a conditional exclusion from the definition of solid waste. This exclusion would be for hazardous oil-bearing secondary materials generated by the petroleum refinery industry when these materials are processed in a gasification system to produce synthesis gas fuel and other non-fuel chemical by-products. We are proposing this exclusion to put the gasification of these hazardous oil-bearing secondary materials on the same regulatory footing (i.e., excluded) as other hazardous secondary materials returned to a petroleum refining process. If adopted, this proposal will establish a more consistent regulatory framework for this practice, potentially enhancing the use of this technology, as well as establishing conditions on the practice to assure the legitimacy of this fuel manufacturing activity.
We also solicited comment on a proposal that would extend the conditional exclusion to other hazardous secondary materials generated by industries (other than the petroleum refining industry).
- Federal Register Notice; Proposed Rule - March 25, 2002
- Federal Register Notice; Extension of Public Comment Period - June 11, 2002
- Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 17K, About PDF) || Text
- Environmental News (PDF) (1 pp, 12K, About PDF)