US Hazardous Waste

A US facility that treats, stores, or disposes of HW must obtain a permit for doing so under RCRA. Generators and transporters of HW must meet specific requirements for handling, managing, and tracking waste. Through RCRA, Congress directed the EPA to create regulations to manage HW. Under this mandate, the EPA developed strict requirements for all aspects of HW management including the treatment, storage, and disposal of HW. In addition to these federal requirements, states may develop more stringent requirements that are broader in scope than the federal regulations. Furthermore, RCRA allows states to develop regulatory programs that are at least as stringent as RCRA, and after review by the EPA, the states may take over responsibility for the implementation of the requirements under RCRA. Most states take advantage of this authority, implementing their own HW programs that are at least as stringent, and in some cases are more stringent than the federal program.

Final Disposal of HW

Historically, some HWs were disposed of in regular landfills. This resulted in unfavorable amounts of hazmats seeping into the ground. These chemicals eventually entered natural hydrologic systems. Many landfills now require countermeasures against groundwater contamination. For example, a barrier has to be installed along the foundation of the landfill to contain the hazardous substances that may remain in the disposed waste. Currently, HWs must often be stabilized and solidified in order to enter a landfill and must undergo different treatments in order for them to be stabilized and disposed of. Most flammable materials can be recycled into industrial fuel. Some materials with hazardous constituents can be recycled, such as lead acid batteries.

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