ELECTRIC POWER MARKET - POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBs)
Are PCBs a Concern in the Electric Power Industry?
Prior to the ban on PCBs in the late 1970s, more than half of all PCBs manufactured in the United States were used as dielectric fluids and coolants in electrical equipment. Despite being banned by the Toxic Substances Control Act, PCBs already in use were permitted to remain in electrical equipment under a use exemption because they were not found to present an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. It was assumed that the authorized equipment would be phased out over time from attrition; and, the industry, as a whole, has been retiring PCB-impacted equipment since then. However, much of this aging equipment is still in use today.
PCBs in Transformers
Transformers containing PCBs have been authorized for use for the remainder of their useful lives. However, transformers containing 500 parts per million (ppm) of PCBs or more (also known as “PCB transformers”) are subject to certain restrictions, such as prohibited use near food or feed locations or in/near commercial buildings. Other requirements include quarterly visual inspections, procedures to follow in the event of a leak, maintenance and reporting procedures, and provisions for protection to avoid transformer ruptures.
PCBs in Capacitors
Prior to 1978, a vast majority of liquid-impregnated capacitors produced in the United States used PCBs as the dielectric fluid. Large capacitors that contain 1.36 kg or more of PCB dielectric fluid (also known as ”PCB capacitors”), are permitted for use for the rest of their useful lives as long as they are located in a restricted area. Large PCB capacitors that are not located in restricted areas are prohibited. All small capacitors (containing less than 1.36 kg of PCB dielectric fluid) may continue to be used for their remaining lives without access restrictions.
PCBs in Electric Light Ballasts
Non-leaking PCB and PCB-contaminated fluorescent light ballasts are permitted for use for the rest of their useful lives. When these ballasts are taken out of service, they must be disposed of properly as hazardous waste and are not to be sold to subsequent users.
PCBs in Electromagnets, Switches, and Voltage Regulators
Most electromagnets, switches, and voltage regulators containing PCBs may continue to be used for their remaining useful or normal lives. The use or storage of a PCB electromagnet (500 ppm or more) in a location where human food or animal feed could be exposed to PCBs released from the electromagnet is prohibited.
Weekly inspections are required for electromagnets with PCBs if they are in use or stored for reuse and contain between 50 ppm and 500 ppm and pose an exposure risk to food or feed. No routine visual inspections are required for other PCB or PCB-contaminated (less than 500 ppm) electrical equipment in use or stored for re-use, but it is recommended that this equipment be inspected quarterly for leaks.
If a PCB Oil Spill/Leak Occurs, How Quickly Can PCBs be Analyzed During Cleanup?
The short version: in about an hour with the use of immunoassay field testing kits. These kits can be used to screen soil and concrete samples in the field to provide real-time analytical results. It is a quick means to determine whether additional removal of affected media is required before receiving confirmation sample results from a standard laboratory analysis. We have successfully applied this technology on numerous projects to eliminate costly re-digs and remobilizations, reduce the volume of material excavated (and associated disposal cost), and cut the time frames for remedial projects by 50% or more.
ELECTRIC POWER MARKET - COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS (CCR)
What are Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR)?
Coal combustion residuals (CCR) are the byproducts of coal burning at power generation facilities. Also known as coal ash, CCRs primarily consist of fly ash (fine, powdery, silica material), bottom ash (coarse ash particles such as sand and rocks), and several other secondary byproducts. CCRs may contain several toxic substances associated with negative human health effects, such as mercury, arsenic, lead and low levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
CCRs may be generated wet or dry and the composition can be changed for transportation and disposal; some wet CCRs may be dewatered for landfill disposal, while some dry CCRs may be sluiced for disposal in a surface impoundment. Millions of tons of CCRs are generated each year, producing one of the largest industrial waste streams in the United States. Approximately 40% of CCRs are recycled for beneficial uses (such as in cement and wallboard) and the remaining products are disposed of in landfills and surface impoundments.
Improperly managed CCRs can pose a risk to human health, wildlife and the environment. Poorly managed CCRs in landfills can cause groundwater contamination and fugitive dust emissions. Improper construction of CCR surface impoundments can cause catastrophic failures, which became evident in December 2008 when a CCR surface impoundment failure at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Power Plant caused the release of 5.4 million cubic yards of CCR sludge and polluted water into the environment, damaging dozens of homes, contaminating nearby rivers and covering approximately 300 acres of land.
This event prompted the US EPA to initiate the Coal Ash Surface Impoundment Integrity Assessment Program in March 2009. Over the next three (3) years, the US EPA assessed the condition and safety of all above-grade CCR surface impoundments at over 200 power plants across the nation and made the resulting information available to the public. In response to the program, power plants across the nation took action to ensure the structural stability of their CCR impoundments.
Despite the success of the Coal Ash Surface Impoundment Integrity Assessment Program, yet another coal ash disaster occurred in February 2014 when a drainage pipe collapsed beneath a CCR impoundment at the Duke Energy facility in Eden, North Carolina. The breach resulted in the release of an estimated 39,000 tons of Coal Ash into the Dan River, which eventually coated approximately 70 miles of the river with a CCR slurry plume.
Public pressures as well as the US EPA’s extensive study on the effects of coal ash on human health and the environment lead to the signing of the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities final rule (CCR Rule) on December 19, 2014. The final rule establishes technical requirements for the disposal of CCRs in landfills and surface impoundments under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The CCR Rule was published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2015 and the effective date of the rule was on October 19, 2015.
What is the CCR Rule?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) published the Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System; Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities; Final Rule (CCR Rule) in the Federal Register on April 17, 2015. The purpose of the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment from CCR disposal units by establishing national minimum criteria for new and existing CCR landfills and CCR surface impoundments.
All applicable CCR disposal sites are subject to the rule equally. There is no transition policy or grandfather clauses for particular units. All CCR disposal units that are subject to the rule were subject to the requirements as of the effective date of the rule on October 19, 2015.
Who is affected by the CCR Rule?
The requirements of the CCR Rule apply to:
- All active electric utility companies and independent power producers that fall within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 221112.
- All active CCR landfills and surface impoundments, both onsite and offsite of a producer’s facility.
- Inactive CCR surface impoundments at active facilities.
The requirements of the CCR Rule do not apply to:
- Coal ash resulting from electricity that was generated using fuel that is less than 50% coal.
- The placement of coal ash in active or abandoned coal mines.
- CCR landfills that stopped receiving coal ash prior to October 19, 2015.
- CCR landfills and surface impoundments at facilities that have ceased producing electricity prior to October 19, 2015.
- Coal ash that is used beneficially.
- Coal ash generated at non-utility facilities or facilities that are not an independent power producer, such as hospitals or universities.
- Municipal solid waste landfills that receive coal ash.
How is the CCR Rule Enforced?
The EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule is structured in such a way that the EPA itself has no authority to enforce compliance. Instead, the rule allows for enforcement through state governments and citizen lawsuits under certain requirements. The EPA strongly encourages state governments to amend their regulations to align with the CCR Rule requirements; however, it has no authority to force states to do so. Therefore, the CCR Rule was designed to facilitate citizen-driven enforcement by requiring transparency.
The CCR Rule requires owners/operators of coal ash disposal units to post specific compliance data within a structured timeframe on a publicly accessible website. This data includes the coal ash unit’s operation and management plans, groundwater monitoring results, annual reports, inspection results and corrective action reports. As a result, such information as groundwater monitoring exceedances, high hazard potential classifications and fugitive dust complaints will be easily accessible to determine if legal action is warranted.
A state is able to enforce compliance of the rule by revising its solid waste management plan (SWMP) to include the CCR Rule requirements. If a state does not amend its SWMP, any person is able to sue the owner/operator for non-compliance under RCRA’s citizen suit provision (Section 7002(a)(1)(A)), even if the coal ash unit is in compliance with state regulations. However, even if a state government does amend its SWMP to align with the CCR Rule and the coal ash unit is in compliance with state regulations, any person may still sue the owner/operator to enforce federal criteria.
Most of the lawsuits will be brought forth by non-governmental, environmental groups. However, state governments are also allowed to sue the owner/operator of coal ash units for non-compliance under RCRA’s citizen suit provision. Therefore, even if a coal ash disposal unit is in full compliance with a state’s SWMP, that state government may legally take action against the owner/operator for non-compliance with the CCR Rule.
Although the EPA is unable to enforce the CCR Rule specifically, it is still able to take action against the owner/operator of coal ash disposal units under RCRA Section 7003 if an imminent hazard to human health or the environment exists as a result of past or present coal ash management. Conceivably, non-compliance with the CCR Rule could bolster the classification of imminent hazard.
Although the CCR Rule strongly promotes lawsuits against coal ash disposal unit owners/operators, enforcement actions must be justifiable and advanced notice must be given prior to litigation. Citizens seeking to sue must first pass certain statutory prerequisites and constitutional requirements to bring forth legal action. They must also issue a notice of intent to sue, which allows the owner/operator a period of time to correct any alleged violations. Although the EPA has no power to enforce the law that it created, the CCR Rule is well designed to keep coal ash disposal units compliant with the regulations.
What are the Technical Requirements of the CCR Rule?
Location Restrictions for CCR Units
To reduce the risk of impacts to human health and the environment from CCR disposal units, the CCR Rule places five (5) location restrictions on new and existing CCR landfills, new and existing CCR surface impoundments and lateral expansions of all CCR units. The five (5) location restrictions include:
- Placement above the uppermost aquifer (40 CFR 257.60) – The base of a CCR unit must be located at least 5 feet above the uppermost aquifer; or demonstrate no connection between base of the landfill/surface impoundment and the uppermost aquifer due to normal groundwater elevation fluctuations. *Existing CCR landfills are not subject to this location restriction.
- In wetlands (40 CFR 257.61)– A CCR disposal facility must not be located in wetland areas unless a demonstration can be made by the owner or operator that ensures the CCR unit will not degrade sensitive wetland ecosystems. *Existing CCR landfills are not subject to this location restriction.
- Within fault areas (40 CFR 257.62)– CCR disposal units must not be located within 200 feet of the outermost damage zone of a fault that has had displacement in Holocene time unless the owner or operator demonstrates that an alternative setback distance of less than 200 feet will prevent damage to the structural integrity of the unit. *Existing CCR landfills are not subject to this location restriction.
- In seismic impact zones (40 CFR 257.63)– CCR disposal units must not be located within seismic impact zones unless a demonstration can be made (certified by a qualified professional engineer) that all containment structures, including liners, leachate collection systems, and surface water control systems are designed to resist the maximum horizontal acceleration in lithified earth material from a probable earthquake. *Existing CCR landfills are not subject to this location restriction.
- In unstable areas (40 CFR 257.64)– CCR Disposal units must not be located in an unstable area unless a demonstration can be made (certified by a qualified professional engineer) that engineering measures have been incorporated into the CCR unit's design to ensure that the structural components will not be disrupted.
Liner Design Requirements for CCR Units
To help prevent groundwater contamination due to leaching from CCR units, the CCR Rule established design requirements for the liners of new landfills and surface impoundments. Existing CCR units are not subject to the same liner design requirements as new CCR units and can continue to receive CCR as designed, as long as the CCR units meet all applicable groundwater monitoring and corrective action criteria to address groundwater releases.
New CCR landfills, new CCR surface impoundments, and lateral expansions of all CCR units must contain a composite liner. This liner must consist of a geomembrane and a two-foot layer of compacted soil that are installed in direct contact with one another. Alternative liners may also be used, provided the liner performs at least as effectively as the composite liner. Additionally, new landfills are required to include a leachate collection and removal system to remove excess leachate that may accumulate on top of the liner (40 CFR 257.70 and 40 CFR 257.72).
Although existing CCR surface impoundments can continue to operate as designed without retrofitting, they are required to be documented and certified by a qualified professional engineer as lined or unlined within 18 months after the rule publication date in the Federal Register. Additionally, if existing CCR surface impoundments were constructed without a liner or at least two feet of compacted soil with a specified hydraulic conductivity, the rule requires that the impoundment be retrofitted or closed if concentrations of one or more specific contaminant are detected in groundwater above specified levels (40 CFR 257.71).
Structural Integrity Requirements for CCR Surface Impoundments
To prevent structural failures of CCR surface impoundments, the CCR rule established structural integrity criteria for new and existing, non-incised, CCR surface impoundment, as well as lateral expansions of these units. The applicability of these requirements varies depending on dike heights, storage volume, hazard potential and other factors (40 CFR 257.73 and 40 CFR 257.74).
Owners and operators of all new and existing CCR surface impoundments are required to complete the following structural integrity requirements:
- Marker identification – Place a permanent identification marker on or near the CCR surface impoundment that contains the identification number(s), the name of the CCR unit and the name of the owner or operator. This permanent marker should have been installed within 8 months after the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register.
- Hazard Potential Assessment – Conduct an initial hazard potential assessment of the CCR surface impoundment to determine the hazard potential classification (low, significant or high). This initial hazard potential assessment must be completed within 18 months after the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register. Periodic hazard potential reassessments of the CCR surface impoundment must be conducted at least every 5 years.
- Emergency Action Plan – For all surface impoundments assessed as having either a significant or high hazard potential, an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) must be developed that is commensurate with its hazard potential classification. The initial EAP must be completed within 24 months after the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register.
- Slope Protection – Maintain the CCR surface impoundment with vegetation or other forms of slope protection.
Owners and operators of CCR surface impoundments that are 1.) twenty feet high or more; OR 2.) five feet high or more AND have twenty acre feet or more of storage volume are required to complete the following structural integrity requirements:
- Construction History – Document the design and construction of the CCR surface impoundment within 18 months after the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register.
- Structural Stability Assessment – Conduct an initial structural stability assessment of the CCR surface impoundment to document whether the design, construction, operation and maintenance is consistent with accepted good engineering practices. The initial assessment must be completed within 18 months after the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register. Periodic structural stability reassessments of the CCR surface impoundment must be conducted at least every 5 years.
- Safety Factor Assessments – conduct and initial safety factor assessment to document safety factors for slope stability. The initial assessment must be completed within 18 months after the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register. Periodic safety factor reassessments of the CCR surface impoundment must be conducted at least every 5 years.
Operating Criteria for CCR Units
The CCR Rule establishes operating criteria that address the day-to-day operations of CCR landfills and surface impoundments to reduce the risk of human health and environmental impacts from CCR units. The operating criteria include air criteria and periodic inspections for all CCR units, run-on and run-off controls for CCR landfills and hydrologic and hydraulic capacity requirements for CCR surface impoundments.
Air Criteria (40 CFR 257.80)
The air criteria addresses air pollution from fugitive CCR dust and requires owners and operators to minimize airborne CCR at the facility. Owners and operators are required to prepare a CCR fugitive dust control plan that identifies and describes dust control measures which must include procedures to emplace CCR as conditioned CCR (watering). The plan must also address procedures for logging citizen complaints related to CCR dust, as well as procedures to assess the effectiveness of the plan. For new CCR units, the plan must be prepared prior to the initial reception of CCR into the unit.
Additionally, CCR facilities are required to submit an annual CCR fugitive dust control report which includes dust control measures taken at the facility, a record of citizen complaints and a summary of corrective measures. This annual report is due no later than 14 months after completion of the initial CCR fugitive dust control plan and no later than every 12 months after the initial annual report submission.
Inspection Requirements (40 CFR 257.83 and 40 CFR 257.84)
For all CCR surface impoundments, weekly inspections for structural weaknesses and monthly monitoring of CCR unit instrumentation by a qualified person are required. For CCR surface impoundments that are 1.) twenty feet high or more or 2.) five feet high or more and have twenty acre feet or more of storage volume, annual inspections are required by a qualified professional engineer. The annual inspection is due no later than 14 months after the initial reception of CCR and no later than every 12 months after the initial annual inspection.
For all CCR landfills, weekly inspections for structural weaknesses by a qualified person and annual inspections by a qualified professional engineer are required. The annual inspection is due no later than 14 months after the initial reception of CCR and no later than every 12 months after the initial annual inspection.
Run-on and Run-off Controls for CCR Landfills (40 CFR 257.81)
Owners and operators of new and existing CCR landfills are required to maintain run-on and run-off control systems able to handle water volumes resulting from a 24-hour, 25-year storm. Additionally, each CCR unit must maintain a run-on and run-off control system plan that must be updated every five years. The plan is due no later than the date of initial receipt of CCR for new landfills.
Hydrologic and Hydraulic Capacity Requirements for CCR Surface Impoundments (40 CFR 257.82)
The CCR Rule requires that all CCR surface impoundments maintain an inflow design flood control system that can safely handle flood flows. Requirements for the flood design system vary, based on the height and hazard potential classification of the CCR unit. Additionally, each CCR unit must maintain an inflow design flood control system plan that must be updated every five years. The plan is due no later than the date of initial receipt of CCR for new landfills.
Groundwater Monitoring for CCR Units
Overview (40 CFR 257.90)
The CCR Rule requires that owners of all CCR landfills, CCR surface impoundments and lateral expansions of CCR units install certified groundwater monitoring systems, develop and establish a groundwater sampling and analysis program, begin a detection monitoring plan, and analyze the data collected for the presence of hazardous constituents and other groundwater monitoring parameters. New CCR landfills and surface impoundments must be in compliance with these requirements prior to the initial receipt of CCR into the CCR unit.
Additionally, an annual groundwater monitoring and corrective action report is required for all CCR units. The annual report must document groundwater monitoring activities and corrective actions over the previous year, as well as project activities for the upcoming year. For existing CCR landfills and existing CCR surface impoundments, the initial report is to be competed annually. For new CCR landfills, new CCR surface impoundments, and all lateral expansions of CCR units, the owner or operator must prepare the initial report no later than January 31 of the year following the year of CCR unit establishment, and annually thereafter.
Groundwater Monitoring Systems (40 CFR 257.91)
A groundwater monitoring system (individual or multiunit) must be installed for all CCR disposal units to yield groundwater samples from the uppermost aquifer that accurately represent the quality of background groundwater and the quality of groundwater passing the waste boundary of the CCR unit. The system must be certified by a qualified professional engineer and include a minimum of one upgradient and three downgradient monitoring wells.
Once a groundwater monitoring program has been established, groundwater monitoring and (if necessary) corrective action must be conducted throughout the active life and post-closure care period of the CCR unit.
Groundwater Sampling and Analysis Requirements (40 CFR 257.93)
A groundwater sampling and analysis program must be developed for all CCR units that includes procedures for sample collection, preservation and shipment, analysis, chain of custody and quality assurance/quality control. Sampling procedures vary according to specific phases of monitoring (detection, assessment and corrective action). Total recoverable metals concentrations must be measured in assessing groundwater quality and samples may not be field-filtered prior to analysis.
Detection Monitoring (40 CFR 257.94)
Detection monitoring must be conducted for all constituents listed in Appendix III at least semiannually during the life of the CCR unit. For existing CCR units, at least eight independent samples must be collected from each background and downgradient well and analyzed for all Appendices III and IV constituents. For new CCR units and lateral expansions of existing CCR units, at least eight samples must be collected from each background well and analyzed for Appendices III and IV constituents during the first six months of sampling.
Assessment Monitoring (40 CFR 257.95)
If statistically significant increases over background levels for one or more of the constituents listed in Appendix III are found in downgradient wells during detection monitoring, an assessment monitoring program must be established. During this phase, samples from downgradient wells must be analyzed for all Appendix IV constituents within 90 days of triggering the assessment monitoring program, and annually thereafter.
Within 90 days of obtaining the results from the initial and subsequent sampling events during assessment monitoring, and at least semiannually thereafter, resampling and analyses for all constituents in Appendix III and previously detected constituents in Appendix IV must be conducted for all wells.
If the concentrations of all constituents listed in Appendices III and IV are shown to be at or below background values for two consecutive sampling events, the owner or operator may return to detection monitoring of the CCR unit. The owner or operator of the CCR unit must also establish a groundwater protection standard for each Appendix IV constituent detected.
If a constituent in Appendix IV is later detected at levels above the groundwater protection standard, at least one additional monitoring well must be installed and sampled at the facility boundary in the direction of contaminant migration. Notification must also be given to all neighboring persons who own or reside on land that directly lies over any part of the contamination plume.
Constituents for Groundwater Monitoring
Appendix III Constituents
- Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
Appendix IV Constituents
- Radium 226 and 228 (Combined)
Overview (40 CFR 257.90)
If Appendix IV constituents are found in concentrations exceeding the groundwater protection standard during assessment monitoring, corrective action will be required. The CCR Rule establishes specific requirements for corrective actions to remediate any releases, restore the impacted area to its original condition, and prevent the further release of contamination.
A summary of any corrective actions must be included in an annual groundwater monitoring and corrective action report, which is required for all CCR units. In addition to groundwater monitoring activities, the annual report must document corrective actions over the previous year, as well as project activities for the upcoming year. For existing CCR landfills and existing CCR surface impoundments, the report must be completed annually. For new CCR landfills, new CCR surface impoundments, and all lateral expansions of CCR units, the owner or operator must prepare the initial report no later than January 31 of the year following the year of CCR unit establishment, and annually thereafter.
Assessment of Corrective Measures (40 CFR 257.96)
An assessment of corrective measures must be initiated within 90 days of finding an exceedance of the groundwater protection standard (or immediately upon detection of a release) for any Appendix IV constituent. If the assessment is not initiated within 90 days, the CCR unit will be subject to requirements for closure or retrofitting. The assessment must include a thorough analysis of potential corrective measures, which must be discussed in a public meeting at least 30 days prior to the selection of remedy.
Selection of Remedy (40 CFR 257.97)
Based on the corrective measures assessment, a remedy must be selected as soon as feasible, must meet specified cleanup standards and be certified by a qualified professional engineer. The remedy selected should be based on short- and long-term effectiveness, protectiveness of human health and the environment, degree of certainty for success, potential to reduce further releases, ease or difficulty of implementation and degree to which community concerns are addressed.
Additionally, CCR disposal facility owners must prepare a semiannual report describing the progress of selecting a remedy. After selecting a remedy, a final report must be completed, which describes the selected remedy, how it meets the specified standards and a timeline for initiation and completion of remedial activities.
Implementation of the Corrective Action Program (40 CFR 257.98)
Remedial activities must be initiated within 90 days of selecting a groundwater remedy. These activities include the establishment and implementation of a corrective action groundwater monitoring program, implementation of the corrective action remedy, and any interim measures necessary to reduce further contaminant leaching and potential exposures.
Compliance with the groundwater protection standards can be achieved when Appendix IV constituents have not exceeded the groundwater protection standard for three consecutive years. Upon completion of the remedy, a notification of completion must be completed and certified by a qualified professional engineer.
Closure and Post-Closure Care
The CCR Rule establishes long-term safety of CCR disposal units that are closing by providing specific standards for closing procedures, post-closure monitoring and maintenance, and time frames for initiation and completion.
Inactive CCR Surface Impoundments (40 CFR 257.100)
Specific requirements are outlined for both closure in place and closure through CCR removal. This notification should have included a description of intended closure procedures, a timeline for completing closure activities and required certification(s) by a qualified professional engineer. Additionally, annual progress reports on the progress of closure activities are required to be completed. The first annual report must be prepared within 13 months of preparing the notification of intent to initiate closure and the second annual report must be prepared 12 months afterwards. Upon completion of closure activities, a notification of completion of closure with certification from a qualified professional engineer must be submitted within 60 days of completing closure of the CCR surface impoundment.
Closure or Retrofit of CCR Units (40 CFR 257.101)
The CCR Rule requires mandatory closure or retrofitting of a CCR disposal facility under the following circumstances:
- At any point past the effective date of the CCR Rule, if it is determined that concentrations of at least one Appendix IV constituent are found to be above the groundwater protection standard, the unit must cease receiving all waste (CCR and non-CCR) and closure activities (or retrofitting) must be initiated within six months of making the determination.
- If a CCR unit is unable to comply with the location standard and is unable to prove the unit can still operate safely in accordance with the location restrictions by the deadline (October 17, 2018), the unit must cease receiving all waste (CCR and non-CCR) and closure activities must be initiated within six months of the deadline.
- If the owner of an existing CCR surface impoundment fails to complete the initial or subsequent safety factor assessment by the deadline (initial: October 17, 2016; subsequent: every five years thereafter) or fails to document that the calculated factors of safety meet minimum safety factors, the unit must cease receiving all waste (CCR and non-CCR) and begin closure activities within six months of the deadline.
Criteria for Conducting the Closure or Retrofit of CCR Units (40 CFR 257.102)
The CCR Rule establishes specific criteria for voluntary and mandatory closure or retrofitting, including timelines for completion, documentation, and allowances for time extensions. When closure of a CCR unit occurs because of an owner’s voluntary decision to cease using the unit, the CCR Rule establishes the following requirements:
- When it is known that a CCR unit is receiving its final waste shipment or when the known final volume of CCRs is removed for beneficial use, closure must begin within 30 days of receipt or removal.
- For idle CCR units, the owner or operator must initiate closure of the CCR unit within two years after receiving its last shipment of waste (CCRs or non-CCR) or within two years after removing the last volume of CCRs for beneficial use, whichever is later. The CCR Rule provides procedures for rebuttal of this closure requirement.
For all CCR landfills, closure activities must be completed within six months of initiating closure activities; for all CCR surface impoundments, closure activities must be completed within five years of initiating closure activities. If the owner of a CCR disposal unit can prove that the time frame for closure completion is not feasible due to factors beyond the facilities control, the CCR rule has established procedures for extending the closure time frame.
When retrofitting an existing surface impoundment, a written retrofit plan must be completed at least 60 days prior to commencing retrofit activities. Retrofit activities must be completed within the same time frames specified for closure activities.
Alternative Closure Requirements (40 CFR 257.103)
Under the CCR Rule, a CCR unit may continue to receive CCR if the owner or operator can certify the absence of alternative disposal options for the facility. Inconvenience and increased costs are not considered sufficient qualifications to warrant continued use.
Post Closure Care Requirements (40 CFR 257.104)
Post-closure care for CCR disposal units must be conducted for at least 30 years, which includes repairs to the final cover and erosion, run-on and run-off prevention, groundwater monitoring and corrective action.
Recordkeeping, Notification and Internet Posting
Recordkeeping Requirements (40 CFR 257.105)
Under the CCR Rule, owners and operators of CCR landfills and surface impoundments are required to document and maintain files in a written operating record at their facilities. Written plans, assessments, notifications, certifications, demonstrations, reports, and other specified documents must be completed and placed in the written operating record by the deadline identified in the rule. Documentation must also be retained for at least five years and, if requested, documentation must be submitted to the state and/or tribal authority if the information is not publicly available via the website.
Publicly Accessible Internet Site Requirements (40 CFR 257.107)
In addition to written operating records, owners and operators of CCR landfills and surface impoundments are required to maintain a publicly accessible website that contains pertinent information found in the operating record. With a few exceptions, the information must be posted on the website within 30 days after placing it in the operating record and kept on the website for at least five years.
Notification Requirements (40 CFR 257.106)
Moreover, written notification must be sent to the appropriate state and/or tribal authority when a document is placed in the operating record and on the publicly accessible website. With a few exceptions, notification must be given within 30 days after placing documents in the operating record or on the website.