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EPA Takes No Action on RCRA Corrosives Challenge

Posted on 4/11/2016 by Roger Marks

A few years ago, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) challenged US EPA to tighten its standard for identifying corrosive materials under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste rules. One year ago, a motion was reached that required US EPA to review its RCRA standard for corrosive hazardous wastes and decide if a change was needed.

PEER’s challenge to the corrosivity standard led EPA to consider two major changes to the RCRA hazardous waste rules:
  1. Bring corrosive solids under the scope of RCRA hazardous waste requirements.
  2. Lower the pH threshold for corrosivity from 12.5 to 11.5.
What Did EPA Decide?

In today’s Federal Register, US EPA announced its decision to take no action on the challenge to its rules for corrosive hazardous wastes under RCRA.

Here’s the long and short of it, straight from the Federal Register:

“The Agency’s review of additional materials it identified as relevant to the petition similarly did not demonstrate that any change to the corrosivity characteristic regulation is warranted at this time.”
[81 FR 21295, April 11, 2016]

ph meter for corrosive RCRA waste
Now that the challenge to the RCRA corrosives rules are laid to rest (for now), hazardous waste generators can continue to manage corrosive hazardous wastes under the current RCRA requirements. To read more about what these changes could have meant for hazardous waste generators in the US, read the April 2015 feature EPA May Expand RCRA Classification of Corrosives.

What's Next for PEER?

If PEER wants to continue its challenge to the RCRA corrosives rules, the next likely step would be to question EPA in court under the Administrative Procedure Act. In other words, PEER may claim that EPA did not consult the correct scientific data or follow proper procedure before denying the petition. Depending on how that (possible) court case shakes out, EPA may re-evaluate its RCRA corrsoives rules at a later date.

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Tags: EPA, hazardous waste, RCRA

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