On April 17, 2015, the EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register regulating the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) as solid waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The EPA established national minimum criteria for existing and new CCR landfills, existing and new CCR surface impoundments and all lateral expansions, consisting of design and operating criteria, groundwater monitoring, corrective action, closure requirements and post-closure care. Power plants must record compliance with these requirements in the facility’s operating record and on a publicly available website.
Except in limited circumstances, any existing unlined CCR surface impoundment that is contaminating groundwater above a groundwater standard must stop receiving CCR and either retrofit or close. The rule also requires the closure of any CCR landfill or surface impoundment that cannot meet the criteria for location restrictions or structural integrity. The rule does not regulate CCRs that are beneficially used.
The final rule was welcomed by many in the industry, who had feared the costs of a hazardous waste designation. Environmentalists are concerned with the lack of federal oversight. The final CCR rule can be found here.