In the June 21 Federal Register, EPA formally proposes a rule maintaining provisions for beneficial use of fly ash in concrete and other construction materials, but significantly tightening existing regulations’ treatment of nonconstruction-grade coal ash.
The notice, “Management System; Identification and Listing of Special Wastes; Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals [CCR] From Electric Utilities," opens a public comment period through September 20. The proposed rule seeks to clarify – but not change – a May 2000 agency determination that exempted construction-grade fly ash and other beneficially used CCR from hazardous waste regulations under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA).
In the 138-page document’s discussions of how RCRA subtitle C or D might cloud fly ash specification for concrete, the agency invites “comment on potential refinements for certain beneficial uses”; “other suggestions on how EPA might promote beneficial use of CCRs”; and, “suggestions that would reduce any perceived impacts resulting from ‘stigma’ due to [RCRA subtitle C] identification of CCRs.”
The thrust of the proposed rule concerns landfill- or surface impoundment-bound CCR, which EPA proposes be subject to existing RCRA subtitle C or modified RCRA subtitle D. Both alternatives would see the agency establish safety requirements to address surface impoundments’ structural integrity. EPA’s overhaul of CCR designation, handling and storage was prompted by the December 2008 failure of a Kington, Tenn., impoundment that released millions of gallons of coal ash sludge.