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Region 1: EPA New England

What Regulations Are in Place to Control Emissions?

What regulations apply to new and existing municipal waste combustors?

In 1995 and 2000, respectively, EPA issued final guidelines and standards for large and small municipal waste combustors. The guidelines are to be used by states to develop State Plans to reduce air pollution from existing large Municipal Waste Combustors (MWCs) (built on or before December 19, 1995) and small MWCs (built on or before August 30, 1999). The standards create stringent air emissions limits that will be applied to new large MWCs (built after December 19, 1995), new small MWCs (built after August 30, 1999), and, most recently, new very small MWCs built after December 9, 2005. EPA issued a final Federal Plan for large MWCs on November 12, 1998. This plan will affect large existing MWCs in states that do not have an approved State Plan. The regulations require control of the following criteria and toxic air emissions: mercury; particulate matter; cadmium; lead; carbon monoxide; dioxins/furans; nitrogen oxides; sulfur dioxide; and hydrogen chloride. EPA issued a final Federal Plan for small MWCs on January 31, 2003. This plan will affect small existing MWCs in states that do not have an approved State Plan.

EPA also issued Emission Guidelines for very small MWCs under the "Other Solid Waste Incineration" (OSWI) category on December 16, 2005. The states are encouraged to submit Sate Plans that are at least as protective as the Emission Guidelines. EPA, as of October 1, 2006, has not finalized a Federal Plan.

State or federal municipal waste combustors plans include source and emission inventories, emission limits, testing, monitoring, and reporting requirements, and compliance schedules including increments of progress. EPA estimates that the state or federal plans nationwide will reduce toxic air pollutant emissions by 112,000 tons per year. Since 1990, the standards have reduced dioxin emissions in New England by over 97 percent from municipal waste combustors, as well as sharply reduce other air pollutants like mercury, lead, and cadmium.

How do the municipal waste combustor regulations affect New England?

Municipal waste combustors are the largest contributors of mercury in New England, implementation of the large and small municipal waste combustor regulations will greatly reduce emissions of this toxic pollutant in New England's environment. These regulations also limit emissions of lead, cadmium, dioxins/furans, particulate matter, hydrogen chloride, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.

What regulations apply to new and existing medical waste incinerators?

In 1997, EPA issued final guidelines and standards for medical waste incinerators. The guidelines are to be used by states to develop State Plans to reduce air pollution from existing medical waste incinerators (built on or before June 20, 1996). The standards create stringent air emissions limits that will be applied to new medical waste incinerators (built after June 20, 1996). EPA issued a final Federal Plan on August 15, 2000. This plan will affect existing medical waste incinerators in states that do not have an approved State Plan.

EPA expects the new standards and guidelines to result in a dramatic change in medical waste disposal practices in the United States. Because of the increased cost of on-site incineration under the final rules, few health care facilities are likely to install new medical waste incinerators and many facilities are likely to discontinue use of their existing medical waste incinerators. Instead, EPA expects many of these facilities will likely switch to other waste disposal methods such as off-site commercial waste disposal or on-site disinfection technologies.

How will the medical waste incinerators regulations affect New England?

These regulations will significantly reduce emissions of nine pollutants. For example, nationwide, hydrogen chloride emissions from medical waste incinerators will drop by 98 percent, dioxin/furans by about 96 percent, mercury by 95 percent, and particulate matter by about 90 percent. Some of these pollutants are considered to be carcinogens. In New England, EPA expects the same level of reductions from the requirements.

What regulations apply to new and existing commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators (CISWI) and Industrial Waste Incinerators (IWI) under the OSWI?

On December 1, 2000, EPA issued final guidelines and standards for CISWI units. The guidelines are to be used by states to develop State Plans to reduce air pollution from existing CISWI units (built on or before November 30, 1999). The standards create stringent air emissions limits that will be applied to new CISWI units (built after November 30, 1999). EPA has not issued a final Federal Plan for CISWI units on OCtober 3, 2003.

On December 16, 2005, EPA issued final guidelines and standards for IWI units. Similarly, the guidelines are to be used by states to develop State Plans. EPA has not issued a final Federal Plan for any OSWI category.

The standards and guidelines will provide important improvements in protecting human health and the environment by setting emissions limits for nine pollutants; cadmium; carbon monoxide; dioxin/furans; hydrogen chloride; lead; mercury; nitrogen oxides; particulate matter; and sulfur dioxide.

How do the CISWI regulations affect New England?

These regulations will significantly reduce emissions of the nine pollutants mentioned above. For example, nationwide, hydrogen chloride emissions from CISWI units will drop by 89 percent, dioxin/furans by about 65 percent, mercury by 34 percent, and particulate matter by about 71 percent over 1990 levels. Some of these pollutants are considered to be carcinogens. In New England, EPA expects the same level of reductions from the requirements.

What regulations apply to hazardous waste combustors?

In 1999, EPA issued final technical standards which increased controls over emissions of hazardous air pollutants from hazardous waste burning incinerators, cement kilns, and lightweight aggregate kilns. The revised standards will limit emissions of dioxins and furans, mercury, semi-volatile metals (cadmium and lead), low-volatile metals (arsenic, beryllium, chromium, and antimony), particulate matter, acid gas emissions (hydrochloric acid and chlorine), hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide. These units burn about 80% of the 4 million tons of hazardous waste being combusted each year. The rule was finalized under the joint authority of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA). As the result of this rule, the emission standards for these facilities covered under a Title V CAA Permit. The storage and handling of hazardous waste at these facilities will be covered under a RCRA permit. The rule also provides an exception for extra, site-specific permit conditions as needed to protect human health and the environment under a RCRA permit.

Revised emission standards for industrial boilers and other types of industrial furnaces will be addressed in a future rule making. The emissions from these units are currently subject to the RCRA management and performance standards.

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