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The 3 Rules of Land Disposal Restrictions

December 11, 2014

In 1984, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was updated to prevent the disposal of certain hazardous wastes on land. Out of this new rule came the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) program, which mandates that certain protective measures be taken before any hazardous waste is disposed of on land.

One major impetus for the program was the prevention of the pollution of groundwater, usually through leaching of hazardous contaminants into water supplies.

LDR provisions focus on eliminating this possibility by proper treatment of hazardous or toxic constituents in waste before land disposal. The processes of treatment may include,

  • Incineration (which destroys organic hazardous compounds),
  • Stabilization or immobilization (which binds toxic metals to the mass of the waste itself, making them less likely to leach out).

There are three main sections to the LDR program:

1.   Disposal prohibition – Requires waste-specific treatment standards be met before disposal of the HAZMAT waste on land. A facility can meet such standards by either:

a. Treating hazardous chemicals in the waste to meet appropriate levels. Many such methods are approved for use, excluding dilution.

b. Treating hazardous waste with a treatment technology specified by the EPA. Once the waste is treated in this manner under land disposal restrictions, it can be legally disposed of on land.

2.   Dilution Prohibition – Ensures that wastes are treated properly and not merely diluted, by adding bulk amounts of either soil, water, or non-hazardous waste in an attempt to dull the concentration of hazardous constituents. This is because dilution will not reduce the toxicity of hazardous waste.

3.   Storage Prohibition – States that hazardous waste cannot be stored indefinitely. This rule against indefinite storage of hazardous wastes prevents long duration storage in lieu of prompt treatment. Wastes may be stored in containers, tanks, and containment buildings as long as they meet land disposal restrictions. But this storage must only be carried out for the purpose of accumulating the necessary quantities to facilitate proper recovery, treatment, or disposal.

From the moment hazardous waste is generated onward, it is subject to land disposal restrictions. If a hazardous waste generator produces more than 220 pounds (or 2.2 pounds of acute hazardous waste) of hazardous materials in a calendar month, they must identify the type and nature of the waste, and also determine the course of applicable treatment of the before land disposal.

This means generators that produce less than these amounts of acute hazardous or hazardous waste are exempt from LDR requirements, as are waste pesticides and container residues which are disposed of by farmers on their own land, and newly-listed wastes which the EPA has yet to make a decision on regarding LDR treatment standards.

It is pertinent to note that proper tracking and record keeping of the treatment and disposal of wastes are key for later EPA reports as well. Generators must inform any treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDF) of the status of the waste they send. TSDFs must also follow these restrictions as well for all waste they receive.

Understanding the correct form of treatment for hazardous materials that complies with land disposal restrictions is crucial to abiding by RCRA statutes, and therefore federal law, and to keep the environment safe and healthy for both waste workers and citizens alike.

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If you would like to know more about the land disposal restrictions (LDR) program, call us at 800-936-2311 to speak with an expert or click here to email us.

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.