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Release Date: 07/30/99
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Environmental News


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol M. Browner today announced standards for controlling hazardous air pollutants, such as dioxin and lead, emitted from incinerators, cement kilns and lightweight aggregate kilns burning hazardous waste.
Today’s regulations establish stringent nationwide standards to reduce hazardous air pollutants emitted from these sources. Dioxin and furan emissions at these facilities will be reduced by 70 percent and metals emissions will be reduced by up to 86 percent.

“About 37 million Americans who live in the same county as a hazardous waste combustion facility will be protected by today’s more stringent standards,” Browner said. “This will help ensure greater protection of their health and their environment from the burning of hazardous wastes.”

The incinerators and cement kilns controlled under today’s standards burn 80 percent of the hazardous waste combusted each year in America. However, 20 commercial incinerators, 18 cement kilns, and five lightweight aggregate kilns account for about half of the 3.3 million tons of hazardous waste burned each year by the 172 facilities subject to today’s rule. Hazardous waste combustors are located in the majority of states in this country.

These standards -- combined with previous measures by the Clinton Administration to control air toxics from sources like medical incinerators and municipal combustors -- should reduce total emissions of dioxin by 95 percent, emissions of mercury by 80 percent and emissions of lead and cadmium by 83 percent.

Steps to reduce these pollutants are important to protect public health because dioxin and furans can cause cancer. Lead exposure in children can cause brain and nervous system damage, slow growth, hyperactivity and behavior and learning problems. Adults exposed to lead can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nervous disorders and memory and concentration problems. Mercury exposure also can lead to delayed behavior and learning capabilities in children. These toxic substances all accumulate in the environment leading to long-term health and environmental effects.

In addition to controlling dioxin and heavy metals like lead and mercury, today’s rule will also significantly reduce other air pollutants, like particulate matter, hydrochloric acid, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other toxic metals.

EPA issued this rule under joint authority of the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Through this rule EPA takes a major step in consolidating permitting and enforcement responsibilities. The emissions standards for these sources will be consolidated in Clean Air Act Title V permits, with the exception in some cases of risk-based conditions necessary under RCRA permits.

This regulation covers hazardous waste incinerators and cement kilns and lightweight aggregate kilns that burn hazardous waste. The remaining 15 to 20 percent of hazardous waste combusted annually is burned in industrial boilers and other types of industrial furnaces, which will be addressed in a separate rule-making.

Combustion facilities will have three years to comply with the standards. Facilities making manufacturing process changes to reduce the amount of hazardous waste being incinerated may petition for four years to meet the new standards.

The Federal Register notice and a fact sheet on this rule will be available shortly on the Hazardous Waste Combustion Web page at: or by calling the RCRA hotline at 1-800-424-9346.

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