HAZWASTE: Analysis Supports Access To Off-Site Treatment Centers

In an effort to avert any attempts to limit interstate shipments of hazardous waste, the Institute of Chemical Waste Management (ICWM) has co-funded an analysis of Environmental Protection A- gency (EPA) data that shows that the majority of generators need access to off-site management facilities.

Although 95 percent (by weight) of hazardous waste produced by the 20,233 large quantity generators in the United States is handled on-site, 95 percent of these generators must ship all of their wastes to off-site facilities, according to Environmental Information Ltd. (EI), Minneapolis (see chart below). The report also points out that most states do not have all the treatment options necessary to adequately handle waste produced within their borders, and that most states argue against restrictions on interstate shipments of hazardous waste and requirements for self-sufficiency.

Currently, there are no bills pending that would allow bans on the movement of hazardous waste between states, says Doug Mac- Millan, director of hazardous waste programs for the ICWM, a division of the National Solid Wastes Man-agement Association, Washington, D.C. But there is legislation that would affect shipments of municipal solid waste. These could be amended to include hazardous waste, he points out, and ICWM is concerned that legislators will not view prohibitions on interstate commerce in hazardous waste as an appropriate local prerogative. Allowing restrictions on waste shipment would be devastating, and the EI report is intended to "inoculate decision-makers against that mistake," he says.

"Self-sufficiency just doesn't work in the hazardous waste area," MacMillan says. Each state does not have all the types of treatment facilities needed to handle wastes generated within its borders and barriers to interstate shipments would have a "significant impact" on manufacturers and material processors. Generators would also face the prospect of having to select facilities on the basis of accessibility rather than suitability for treating the waste in question, he says.

The EI analysis examined data and commercial facilities information found in the EPA's 1989 biennial hazardous waste report. Ac-cording to the report, each state exports waste to 20 other states and imports waste from 20 other states. The waste is moved to a variety of locations to use specialized services. Listing available commercial services, EI reports that treatment facilities were located in only 31 states during both 1989 and 1992; solvent recovery services were available in 30 states in 1989 and 28 in 1992; incinerators operated in 15 states in 1989 and 14 in 1992; industrial furnaces were located in 17 states in 1989 and 16 in 1992; and landfills operated in 15 states in 1989 and 1992.

The large number of generators that must send their waste off-site, coupled with data showing that facilities are not available in each state, confirm "the importance of the interchange of waste management service be- tween states in maintaining compliance with EPA regulations," ac- cording to EI. Efforts to minimize waste generation are unlikely to change this interdependency, says the president of EI, Cary Perket. "One result of minimization is a more concentrated or difficult-to-treat waste stream," says Perket.

"Because of this the need for interstate waste shipments may even in- crease."