Proposed Denial of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rulemaking Petition
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EPA is proposing to deny a rulemaking petition from a coalition of industry petitioners: American Forest and Paper Association, Association of American Railroads, Treated Wood Council, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, and American Wood Council. This rulemaking petition requests revisions to the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials regulations. The NHSM regulations establish standards and procedures for identifying whether non-hazardous secondary materials are solid wastes when used as fuels or ingredients in combustion units. Such a determination is important for ensuring that NHSM fuels are only burned in units that are appropriately designed to burn them.
The petitioners requested the following amendments:
- Change the legitimacy criterion for comparison of contaminants in the NHSM to the traditional fuel the unit is designed to burn from mandatory to “should consider;"
- Remove associated designed to burn and other limitations for creosote-treated railroad ties (CTRT); and
- Revise the definition of paper recycling residuals (PRR) to remove the limit on non-fiber materials in PRR that can be burned as a non-waste fuel.
EPA is proposing to deny all three requested amendments for the reasons explained in the Federal Register notice. While the first two requests are focused on increasing boiler capacity for burning CTRTs, the requested regulatory changes would negatively affect the NHSM program more broadly, increasing the levels of contaminants that could be burned in units that are not appropriately designed to burn them. This would potentially increase emissions, which would most likely be disproportionately borne by minority and low-income communities, since the facilities in question are more frequently located in such areas.
Regarding the third petition request, paper recycling residuals with significant quantities of non-fiber materials (e.g., clays, starches, waxes and adhesives, other plastics, filler and coating additives, and dyes and inks) lack meaningful heating value and would therefore be solid wastes when combusted. As an alternative to the third request, EPA is proposing to reduce regulatory uncertainty by changing the definition of PRR to set a numerical limit of two percent (rather than the current limit of “small amounts”) on the amount of non-fiber materials that may be included for the residuals to be considered a non-waste fuel.
EPA accepted comments through March 29, 2022:
On March 21, 2011, EPA promulgated the base NHSM regulations titled “Identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials that are Solid Waste” establishing Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 241. The March 2011 NHSM final rule provides the standards and procedures for identifying whether NHSMs are solid waste under RCRA when used as fuels or ingredients in combustion units.
Subsequent rulemaking efforts have expanded and clarified the 40 CFR part 241 regulations:
- In 2013, the EPA amended the NHSM rules to clarify several provisions in order to implement the non-hazardous secondary materials rule as the agency originally intended.
- In 2016, the EPA published final NHSM rule amendments that provided a categorical non-waste fuel determination for CTRT that undergo, at a minimum, metal removal and shredding or grinding and are used as fuel in units designed to burn both biomass and fuel oil as part of normal operations and not solely as part of start-up or shut-down operations.
- In 2018, a similar categorical non-waste fuel determination was applied to creosote-borate and mixtures of creosote and certain non-creosote treated railroad ties (i.e., other treated railroad ties, or OTRT).
On December 7, 2018, a coalition of industry petitioners submitted a rulemaking petition to EPA to request the removal of restrictions in the regulation that affect the burning of creosote-treated railroad ties and paper recycling residuals as non-waste fuel under 40 CFR part 241. On January 28, 2022, EPA published the proposed denial of the petition.
- Petition for rulemaking to amend the legitimacy criteria in 40 CFR 241, the categorical non-waste fuels classification criteria for creosote treated railroad ties and other treated railroad ties, and the definition of paper recycling residuals (PDF)
- Identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials That Are Solid Waste