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Release Date: 11/16/94
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In an effort to reduce public health problems -- particularly cancer cases -- from toxic air emissions, EPA today announced a final rule for hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that will have significant health effects. RCRA is the federal hazardous waste statute.
The rule will reduce cancer cases associated with toxic emissions from these facilities to a level of approximately two per year, compared to the approximate 48 cases annually that would have occurred in the absence of the rule.

The regulation will also result in a nationwide reduction of over one million tons of smog-forming emissions, which can cause respiratory problems.

The final rule will reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from tanks, surface impoundments and containers by over 95 percent. It will apply to an estimated 2300 existing and any new facilities nationwide that require a RCRA permit to operate. The majority of these units are concentrated in urban areas and are privately-owned by large companies that generate the waste. Approximately 20,000 hazardous waste generators will also be affected because these rules are applicable to generator tanks and containers used for hazardous waste storage.

Hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities are the largest industrial sources of VOC emissions in the United States. VOC emissions are the prime ingredient in smog (ground-level ozone) formation and also contribute to toxic air pollution.

Organic toxic emissions from the regulated facilities include numerous carcinogens such as acrylonitrile, benzene and carbon tetrachloride, as well as other noncarcinogenic toxics.

The final rule applies to tanks, surface impoundments and containers used for hazardous waste. A "surface impoundment" is basically an excavation or natural depression in the ground that holds accumulation of waste; although it may be lined with manmade materials, it is not a landfill. Examples would be ponds or lagoons. A "tank" is basically a stationary device designed to contain accumulation of hazardous waste, i.e. a storage tank or a treatment tank. A "container," such as a dumpster, is basically a portable device in which waste is accumulated.

This rule will require air-tight covers and vapor control devices for affected units. In this way, VOC will not be able to escape to the atmosphere and become an air pollution problem.

For the industry to comply with the rule, EPA estimates capital investment of approximately $290 million, and total annualized costs of about $110 million per year. EPA estimates economic effects on the industry to be minimal, with price increases substantially below one percent. EPA expects no significant impacts on small businesses.

Today's announced rule will appear soon in the Federal Register.

For further information, contact Michele Aston of EPA's Office of Air Quality and Standards at 919-541-2363.