The National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA) applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling that coal ash can be disposed of in solid waste landfills.
The EPA issued a final rule that brought long-awaited clarity to the disposal and recycling of coal ash and whether it should be classified as hazardous or nonhazardous waste. The new rule allows states to apply federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle D nonhazardous waste standards for coal ash disposal under state-issued permits, according to a news release from the Washington-based NW&RA.
“This change improves the management and treatment of coal ash disposal, creating greater opportunities for the beneficial use of coal combustion products,” said Sharon Kneiss, NW&RA president and CEO. “The landfills that may receive this waste are equipped, experienced and prepared to manage it in a safe manner. Furthermore, sufficient landfill capacity exists to handle coal ash waste.”
The waste industry has researched the handling and disposal of coal ash waste and has committed to working with utilities to ensure a smooth transition in implementing new requirements, the association said.
The EPA said in a news release the final rule establishes safeguards to protect communities from coal ash impoundment failures, such as what happened in Kingston, Tenn., in 2008.
The EPA said its final rule also supports the responsible recycling of coal ash by distinguishing safe, beneficial use from disposal. In 2012, nearly 40 percent of all coal ash produced was recycled.