Land Disposal Restrictions For Hazardous Waste: What You Need To Know
March 24, 2020

The RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) was created to prevent the disposal of specific hazardous wastes on our lands. As part of this law, the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) program was generated to mandate preventive measures to be put into place before hazardous wastes are disposed of on our lands.

The LDR program was initiated in 1984 as part of the RCRA Act that prohibits the disposal of untreated hazardous wastes. This law requires the EPA to specify either method of treatment or concentration levels for hazardous materials before they are disposed of.This process is designed to decrease the toxicity of the waste or decrease its capability of contaminating our land or groundwaters.

The EPA created the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) as a means to identify treatment standards for hazardous wastes. This program identifies treatment standards for owners and operators of TSDFs (Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities), facilities that generate the waste material, as well as transporters of the materials.

Leaching of hazardous contaminants into our water supplies was one significant part of this program to prevent groundwaters from becoming polluted. The LDR program focuses on eliminating the possibility of polluted groundwaters by enforcing the proper treatment of hazardous and toxic waste before it is placed into land disposal. This elimination process includes either incineration or stabilization.

What you need to know about land disposal restrictions for hazardous waste is included in these three rules laid out under the LDR program.

Disposal Prohibition

The disposal prohibition rules require that all waste-specific treatment standards have to be met in order for the disposal of HAZMAT waste can be placed on the land. Hazardous waste disposal service facilities are able to meet this standard by:

  • Treating their hazardous waste with treatment technology that has been EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved and specified. If these standards treat the waste under the land disposal restrictions, it can then be legally disposed of on land. Treatment standards for those who handle hazardous wastes are located on a standards table at Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations in Section 268.40.
  • Treating their hazardous chemicals to meet appropriate levels. There are a number of methods approved, except dilution.

Dilution Prohibition

The dilution prohibition makes sure all wastes are treated correctly and not just diluted by adding bulk amounts of non-hazardous waste, water, or soil to them to dull the concentration levels of hazardous constituents. Dilution does not reduce the toxicity of  hazardous waste.

Storage Prohibition

The storage prohibition rule states hazardous wastes cannot be contained or stored indefinitely. Wastes are allowed to be stored in containers, containment buildings, or tanks as long as they meet the restrictions for land disposal restrictions. Storage is only allowed for the purpose of accumulating the needed quantities to facilitate proper recovery, disposal, or treatment.

Who Is Responsible for Following LDR Regulations

As a generator of waste, to determine if your waste is subject to LDR, answer these three questions:

  • Do you generate, dispose of, treat, or store hazardous wastes? 
  • Hazardous wastes can be liquid, solid, sludge, or contained gas, and can be generated forrom a number of sources. Waste is defined as hazardous in two ways; as being listed explicitly as hazardous waste material or by exhibiting a characteristic of hazardous waste. 
  • Do your wastes qualify for any designated exemptions? 
  • Any characteristic and listed hazardous waste that is going to end in land disposal is subject to LDR. Some exclusions will apply to RCRA regulations, such as the exclusion for the definition of solid waste. Some of those not subject to the LDR include:
    • waste pesticide and container residues disposed of by farmers on their land
    • newly listed hazardous wastes that the EPA has not established treatments for
    • low-volume releases of characteristic wastes, or lab chemicals that have been mixed with a facility’s wastewater and then discharged under Clean Water Act

If waste is excluded from the definitions of hazardous or solid waste, they are exempt from the LDR program and can be land disposed of without meeting treatment standards.

  • Are your wastes going to end up in land disposal? Land disposal is considered the placement of the waste on or in the land. Land disposal is any placement onto the land or placement of hazardous waste into these hazardous waste management units:
    • waste piles
    • land treatment facilities
    • underground mines or caves
    • concrete bunkers or vaults
    • landfills
    • surface impoundments
    • injection wells
    • land treatment facilities
    • salt bed formations or salt domes

If you are unsure whether or not your hazardous waste is exempt or question the process you are required to follow in your hazardous waste management, you should contact your local hazardous waste disposal service. These professionals welcome the opportunity to work with you to ensure you have a proper waste management program in place.

Hazardous Waste Is Subject to Land Disposal Restrictions

From the moment hazardous waste is created, and beyond, it becomes subject to land disposal restrictions. If you generate more than 220 pounds of hazardous waste materials in one calendar month, you must identify its nature and type of waste, as well as determine the course of proper treatment before it can reach land disposal.

Proper record-keeping and tracking are required for the treatment and disposal of wastes, which are vital for EPA reports. As a generator of this waste, you must inform your hazardous waste disposal service facility of the status of the waste you are sending to them. This facility must then follow the restriction for the waste they receive.

Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) Paperwork Required for Prohibited Wastes

A prohibited waste is one that, if disposed of, would be subject to land disposal restrictions in Title 40 CFR Part 268.

  • Title 40 is a portion of the United States Code of Federal Regulations. Under title 40, you will find mainly environmental regulations and laws enacted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency based on provisions granted by U.S. laws. Title 40 is the section which deals with protecting human health and our environment.

Under LDR regulations, you are required to account for prohibited wastes and their handling by providing information to your TSDF (Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility- Hazardous Waste Disposal Service).

  • The Land Ban FormIf your hazardous waste does not meet LDR standards for treatment, you have to make sure it is treated before it can be disposed of. As a generator, you prepare notification for treatment and storage with your hazardous waste disposal service or TSDF as outlined at 40 CFR 268.7. This notification, also known as the Land Ban Form, will alert your disposal service on how they need to treat your hazardous waste before they dispose of it. 
  • CertificationIf your hazardous waste material meets the standards when originally generated, or if you treat the waste on-site to meet the LDR standards, then you have to prepare a certification that includes the information specified at 40 CFR 268.7(a)(3). This statement in which you certify that through analysis and testing, or through your knowledge of the waste, the waste does comply with LDR standards of treatment. 
  • One-Time Notice to File- Some wastes are excluded from the definition of hazardous or solid waste under the RCRA. Even if your waste is excluded from the management rules under the RCRA, you still have to account for it under the LDR (Land Disposal Restrictions). In these situations, you have to prepare what is called a One-Time Notice to File and keep it at your facility. 
    • Examples of the prohibited wastes which are excluded from the definition of hazardous or solid waste, include:
    • Unlisted byproducts or sludges that display a characteristic of hazardous waste that have been reclaimed
    • Commercial chemical products listed at 40 CFR 261.33 or that display a characteristic that are reclaimed
    • Reclaimed, spent sulfuric acid that meets the conditions of 40 CFR 261.4(a)(7)
    • Used oil filters which have been hot drained and meet standards of 40 CFR 261.4(b)(13)

The waste included in the One-Time-Notice-to-File is outlined at 40 CFR 268.7(a)(7). As a generator, you have to describe the disposition of your waste and how it was generated and excluded from the definitions of hazardous or solid waste. This notice must be kept at your facility, and be available if an inspection is performed by the State or EPA agencies

Waste Exempted After Generation According to RCRA

The same one-time notice is also required for hazardous waste, which has been exempted for regulations after its generation, and it must include a description of how the exemption was applied. Examples of hazardous waste materials exempt from RCRA after they’ve been generated, include:

  • Spent solvents that have been reclaimed, such as spent acetone that has been distilled
  • Recycled materials from which precious metals have been reclaimed
  • Wastes which have been de-characterized in a Clean Water Act wastewater treatment unit, or that have been discharged through the sewer system to a treatment works, or point source discharge

It is critical to your business to understand the LDR requirements, so you practice effective hazardous waste management. If you are unsure of any rules or regulations, contact your local hazardous waste disposal service. These professionals will help you to understand the laws and guide you through proper disposal procedures to ensure you are complying with all state and federal laws.

Overlooking the rules and laws, or failing to document your hazardous waste disposal practices properly can lead to expensive treatment costs. Failure to follow these laws can also lead to EPA fines of more than $37,000 a day for each violation. Your facility will also face future liability under CERCLA.

It is vital that the correct form of treatment for hazardous waste materials are followed and land disposal restrictions are complied with so you abide by the RCRA statutes. These are federal laws and are in place to protect our environment and keep our world healthy and safe for both hazardous waste workers and citizens of our communities.

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