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Hazardous Waste

Land Disposal Restrictions for Hazardous Waste

In 1984, Congress created the land disposal restrictions (LDR) program as part of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). HSWA prohibits the land disposal of untreated hazardous wastes and requires EPA to specify either concentration levels or methods of treatment for hazardous constituents (i.e., treatment standards) to meet before land disposal. The regulations describing EPA’s LDR program can be found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Part 268. EPA has made significant changes over the years addressing public and industry calls for improvement both to streamline the LDR program and provide compliance assistance.

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Why is the LDR Program Important?


The primary goal of RCRA is to protect human health and the environment from the dangers of hazardous waste generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. Uncontrolled land disposal of hazardous waste is threatening to human health and the environment. The LDR program ensures that wastes are properly treated prior to disposal. This makes hazardous waste less harmful to ground water by reducing the potential for leaching of hazardous constituents and by reducing waste toxicity by destroying or removing harmful constituents.

To learn more about LDR, view the below resources: 

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Who is Subject to LDR Regulations?

LDRs do not apply to hazardous waste from households or conditionally-exempt small quantity generators, waste sent to Clean Water Act (CWA) pretreatment and treatment systems or pesticide/container residue disposed by a farmer on their own land (See 40 CFR section 268.1).

The LDR program applies to both generators of hazardous waste and facilities that treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste (i.e., collectively called “hazardous waste handlers”).

Hazardous waste handlers looking to determine if they are subject to LDRs, must answer three questions:

If the answers to questions one and three are yes, the hazardous waste handler must comply with the LDR program.

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What are the Key Prohibitions of the LDR Program?

The foundation of the LDR program consists of three prohibitions – disposal, dilution, and storage. The first and most fundamental prohibition is the prohibition against land disposal of untreated hazardous waste. The storage prohibition prevents the indefinite storage of hazardous wastes in lieu of treatment. Finally, the dilution prohibition ensures that wastes are properly treated and not simply diluted. 

The Disposal Prohibition

This prohibition is the basic premise of the LDR requirements. The disposal prohibition requires waste–specific treatment standards to be met before a waste can be land disposed.

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The Dilution Prohibition

The dilution prohibition states that a waste handler cannot dilute a hazardous waste as a substitute for adequate treatment. Dilution is not permitted when it is used to avoid meeting an applicable treatment standard. This is referred to an “impermissible dilution.” EPA, as part of the LDR program has codified regulations specifically prohibiting the treatment of lead in spend foundry sand with iron filings stating that it is “impermissible dilution.” A treatment method is ineffective when it does not destroy, remove, or permanently immobilize hazardous constituents.

Wastes that are aggregated or mixed as part of a legitimate treatment process, and are subsequently diluted as a result are not considered to be impermissibly diluted under LDR. This prohibition can be found in 40 CFR section 268.3.

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The Storage Prohibition

Under RCRA, it is permissible to temporarily store hazardous wastes subject to LDRs. This storage is only allowed if it is to accumulate a sufficient volume of waste to facilitate proper treatment, recovery, or disposal of that waste. This storage must take place in either a tank, container, or containment building. If storage exceeds one year, then the waste handler bears the responsibility to prove that the storage is necessary to facilitate proper recovery, treatment, or disposal. This prohibition can be found in 40 CFR section 268.50.

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Recordkeeping Requirements

There are a number of records that a waste handler must prepare, submit, and keep at their facility to show compliance with the LDR requirements and to track wastes from generation to land disposal. Generators and treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs) that manage wastes subject to LDR must comply with notification, certification, waste analysis and recordkeeping requirements. The notification and recordkeeping requirements are found in 40 CFR section 268.7

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General LDR Resources

Title Description
Land Disposal Restrictions for Hazardous Waste: A Snapshot of the Program This document provides a brief introduction on the LDR requirements and identifies sources of more information.
Land Disposal Restrictions: Summary of Requirements This document provides a usable summary of the requirements of the LDR program. It is organized in a question-answer format to provide information about LDR regulations that may apply to generators of facilities that treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste. It is designed to clarify the requirements of the LDR program and to explain how the regulations work.

RCRA Training Module about LDR

This training module defines the basic terms and structure of the LDR regulations, the statutory basis, and the applicability, as well as the treatment standards, extensions and variances generator and TSDF requirements.

Superfund LDR Guide #1 - Overview of RCRA Land Disposal Restrictions (PDF)(4 pp, 73.3 K, About PDF)
This guide summarizes the major components of the land disposal restrictions (LDRs), outlines the types of restrictions imposed, and presents the compliance options specified in the regulation.
 
Frequent Questions about LDR

This website contains frequently asked questions on LDR.

List of LDR Guidance Memoranda in RCRAOnline

RCRA online has a special category for LDR questions that link to many policy statements, letters and memoranda addressing LDR issues.

Land Disposal Restrictions Presentation Slides These slides were used to provide a training on the key aspects of the LDR program. They include numerous examples of how the regulations work in the real world.
Memorandum about Land Disposal Restrictions from Barnes Johnson to the EPA Regions on April 11, 2014 (PDF)(2 pp, 425 K, About PDF) This memorandum explains that prohibited wastes (wastes that do not meet the applicable treatment standard) cannot be placed in or on land disposal units unless the unit satisfies the statutory no-migration standards. Thus, if a prohibited waste is placed in or on a land disposal unit before it is confirmed that the waste meets the treatment standard, and it turns out that the waste did not meet the standard, then the disposal is illegal unless the disposal unit is an approved no migration unit.
Memorandum Clarifying the Effective Dates of the Land Disposal Restrictions Phase IV Final Rule from Elizabeth A. Cotsworth to the EPA Regions on October 19, 1998 (PDF)(17 pp, 82.4 K, About PDF) This memorandum explains when each provision of the rule becomes effective, depending upon which part of the governing statute it implements, whether the new provision is more or less stringent than an existing one, and the status of each state's process of becoming authorized to implement hazardous waste regulations.
RCRA Policy Statement Clarifying the Land Disposal Restrictions' Dilution Prohibition and Combustion of Inorganic Metal-Bearing Hazardous Wastes from Elliott P. Laws to the EPA Regions dated May 23, 1994 This memorandum sets out a statement of policy under the RCRA clarifying the application of the LDR prohibition on dilution (see 40 CFR 268.3) to combustion of certain inorganic metal-bearing hazardous wastes. Because combustion normally does not represent effective treatment of these wastes, such burning can be considered impermissible dilution. In such cases, these hazardous metal-bearing wastes cannot be combusted legally. The application of this policy will vary depending on particular circumstances.

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