Hazmat Waste Disposal
April 1, 2024

When hazardous wastes are mismanaged, there is a threat to the environment and human health. To ensure these waste materials are properly handled, the RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) was passed in 1976. Under the Act, all hazardous waste treatment and disposal methods are required to follow federal regulations.

What Defines Hazmat Waste Disposal

Hazmat is a shortened word for hazardous materials and includes all hazardous materials use, production, cleanup, emergency response, and transport. Hazmats include fuels, nuclear waste products, chemical, radiological, and biological agents that can be released as gasses, liquids, solids, or a combination of the three forms. Other forms of release include smoke, vapor, mist, dust, or fumes.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed definitions and processes to identify specific substances known to be hazardous. They have also established objective criteria for other substances in the hazardous waste universe. The identification process for these substances can be very complex, so if your facility needs help with identification, contact the Environmental Marketing Service. 

The EPA has developed hazmat waste disposal regulations to balance conservation resources. The regulations ensure the protection of the environment and human health. There are many hazardous wastes that can follow hazardous waste stabilization effectively and safely, and other materials that need to be treated and disposed of in incinerators or landfills. Environmental Marketing Service can help your facility identify how to dispose of your hazardous waste materials.

Hazardous Waste Treatment

Hazardous wastes can be treated in a variety of ways:

  • Physical treatments that include flotation, sedimentation, filtration, evaporation or solidification
  • Chemical treatment that includes precipitation, ion exchange, neutralization, or oxidation
  • Biological treatment or landfarming
  • Thermal treatment or incineration

Chemical, thermal, and biological treatments transform hazardous waste at a molecular level, while physical treatments result in hazardous waste concentration, solidification, or volume decrease.

Along with detoxifying, to destroy certain organic wastes, hazardous waste incineration can be done using:

  • Multiple-hearth furnaces
  • Liquid-injection incinerators
  • Rotary kilns
  • Fluidized-bed incinerators

Air pollution can be a concern with incineration.

Different Types of Hazmat Waste Disposal

 

Hazardous Waste Stabilization and Landfill Disposal

Landfills and dumpsites are the most common and oldest methods for the disposal of hazardous waste. Landfills for hazardous waste are built specifically for solid materials and are not intended for liquid wastes. These dumpsites or landfills are engineered to hold materials within the ground and not to pile upward.

Hazmat waste landfills are lined with HDPE, clay, or other non-porous materials. These materials prevent the substances from leaching into the ground. Double liners, leak protection systems, and wind dispersal controls are included for additional protection so the environment and humans have as little contact with the waste as possible.

Congress passed the LDR (Land Disposal Restrictions) program in 1984 as part of the HSWA (Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments) to the RCRA. These amendments prohibit using land disposal of untreated hazardous wastes. The EPA specifies methods of treatment or concentration levels to be met before using land disposal methods. Check with the Environmental Marketing Service if you are unsure your hazardous waste meets these specifications.

Hazardous Waste Underground Disposal

The only time hazardous waste underground disposal methods are compliant is if the materials are taken to a mine that is inactive or partially active. These materials are also required to meet technical and geological specifications. Some facilities need to dispose of radioactive waste, such as those generated in medical treatments, radioactive ore mining, nuclear fuel production, or laboratory experiments. For these facilities underground disposal is a cost-effective option.

The mines must be determined by the EPA to be designed, maintained, and operational to the correct standards. These standards must be met to protect humans and the environment.

Hazardous Waste Ocean Dumping

To avoid contaminating groundwater, ocean depositing is sometimes used. This process requires hazardous waste treatment before disposal as ocean dumping can impact marine life. Treatment is also necessary to protect humans as the waste can impact them when they eat seafood.

The only time ocean dumping is allowed is if the EPA has issued you a permit and strict guidelines are followed.

Hazardous Waste Recycling

Hazardous waste recycling is the preferable disposal process for many reasons. This process has economic benefits and decreases raw material reliance nationally. Recycling also conserves our natural resources, cuts energy use, and prevents pollution. These are some of the ways in which hazardous waste recycling can be achieved:

  • Disposal through use- This method has placement of the waste on the land
  • Burning- Burning waste for fuel recovers energy
  • Reclaim- This method regenerates or processes a useful product
  • Reuse- Uses the waste product for another product or as an industrial ingredient

Hazmat Waste Management Units

Under the RCRA, Congress asked the EPA to publicize regulations on design and operating requirements for hazmat waste management units. These regulations were created to protect the environment and human health from the risks of hazardous waste.

These are some of the types of hazmat waste management units:

Tanks

Tanks are stationary devices made from non-earthen materials and used to treat and store hazardous waste. The tanks can be constructed from a variety of materials including concrete, plastic, steel, and fiberglass.

Containment Buildings

A containment building is one that is completely enclosed and self-supporting. These building have a floor, roof, and four walls, and are used to treat and store non-containerized hazardous waste.

Industrial Furnaces and Boilers

An industrial furnace is an enclosed unit that contains integral parts of the manufacturing process. The furnace uses thermal treatment and recovers materials or energy from hazardous waste. Examples of these furnaces would be a cement kiln, halogen acid furnace, or aggregate kiln. A boiler is an enclosed device that uses flame combustion to recover and then export energy in the form of heated gasses, steam, or heated fluids.

Incinerator

An incinerator is an enclosed device that uses controlled flame combustion. This process is a thermal treatment of hazardous waste. When incineration is done properly, the toxic organic components in hazardous waste are destroyed. This process also reduces the volume of hazardous waste that has to be disposed.of.

Containers/Drums

A container for hazardous waste is a portable device that can treat, transport, and store hazardous materials. The most common type of container for hazardous waste is the 55-gallon drum. Other types of containers include; bags, buckets, railroad cars, tanker trucks, and test tubes.

Drip Pads

A drip pad consists of a curbed, free-draining base. The drip pads are constructed of non-earthen materials and designed to carry wood preservative chemical drippage. This drippage typically comes from precipitation, treated wood, and the surface water run-on that comes from collection systems at wood preserving plants. 

Landfills

Landfills are engineered sites where non-liquid hazmat waste is deposited for its final disposal. The landfills are designed to minimize any risks of hazardous waste being released into the environment. The designs for landfills must meet these requirements:

  • Leak detection system
  • Double liner
  • Runoff, run on, and wind dispersal controls
  • Construction quality assurance program
  • Double leachate collection and removal systems

Other requirements include operators of a landfill must comply with inspections, release response requirements, and monitoring. Because landfills are permanent sites for hazardous waste and are closed with the materials in place, they are also subject to post-closure and closure requirements.

Land Treatment Units

A land treatment unit uses sunlight and naturally occurring soil microbes to treat hazmat waste. The process includes applying the hazmat waste directly on the soil’s surface in order to transform, degrade, or immobilize the hazardous components. A land treatment unit relies on chemical, physical and biological processes to occur to the topsoil to contain the waste.

Hazmat Waste Disposal Service

Hazmat waste disposal management facilities receive hazmat waste for storage, treatment or disposal. These facilities, such as Environmental Marketing Service are often referred to as TSDFs (Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities.) Environmental Marketing Service is a reliable and dedicated partner when you need to address your waste management requirements.

If you have questions or needs in regards to handling hazmat waste disposal, contact one of our experts and learn about our diverse portfolio of services available nationwide excluding Alaska, New Jersey, and Hawaii.

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