Alaska Developing a State Hazardous Waste Program

Posted on 5/31/2024 by Roseanne Bottone and Roger Marks

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste law allows each US State to run its own hazardous waste program. Nearly all states, 48 out of 50, currently operate a Federally-authorized program.

States with approved programs are authorized to administer and enforce their own hazardous waste regulations in lieu of the Federal standards. In states without an authorized RCRA program, US EPA oversees compliance with the hazardous waste regulations.

For a long while, Alaska and Iowa have been the only two states without a hazardous waste program. Soon, the Hawkeye State may be on its own: Late last year, Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) drafted regulations to enact a State hazardous waste program and released them for public review and comment. 

Alaska Developing a State Hazardous Waste Program

State Hazardous Waste Programs Under RCRA

To be approved by US EPA, a State's hazardous waste program must include substantive requirements for permitting, compliance evaluation and inspections, enforcement, public participation, and information sharing. Crucially, each State's hazardous waste regulations must also be equivalent to and as stringent as the Federal RCRA regulations.

Alaska’s Changes to Federal RCRA Rules 

Under RCRA, states have the flexibility to impose regulations that are stricter and/or more burdensome than EPA’s standards. 

Alaska’s proposed regulations include four notable changes to the current hazardous waste rules: 

  • Adding electronic waste (e-Waste) as universal waste. 
  • Requiring annual reporting from large quantity generators (for the first 5 years).
  • Adopting Unified Guidance related to groundwater monitoring/analysis (EPA 530-F-09-007). 
  • Adding closure standards for corrective action (Soil and groundwater cleanup). 
Other states' programs include "extra" requirements related to hazardous waste listings, universal waste, storage and container management, restrictions for satellite areas, and more. States may also limit or omit exclusions and reliefs provided under Federal regulation. 

Hazardous Waste in Alaska: What's Next?

The public comment period for ADEC's proposed hazardous waste regulations ended in October 2023. Shortly after the comment period ended, ADEC produced a useful Question and Answer document for the regulated community.

Alaska submitted a draft application package to US EPA in November. Once EPA reviews the draft, ADEC will make any revisions necessary. Then, ADEC will finalize the regulations and send a final application package to US EPA for approval. Before Alaska submits the application package, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on it. 

If EPA approves the application (after a 90-day comment period), then Alaska will be authorized to operate its own hazardous waste program. ADEC estimates that the program approval process will wrap up in Fall 2025.

ADEC Flyer: What's Up with Hazardous Waste in Alaska? (PDF)

RCRA Training and Lion State Summaries 

Every state uses the Federal RCRA hazardous waste regulations as a "base" for its own program. When you know the RCRA rules, you have most of what you need to identify and manage your site's hazardous waste. 
You must also know the nuances of your State's rules to stay in compliance.

Lion makes this easy: As part of your Lion Membership included with any RCRA online course, workshop, or webinar, you get access to our library of Hazardous Waste State Summaries. These are streamlined digital booklets that clearly lay out key differences between each State’s regulations and the Federal rules.

Tags: Alaska, hazardous waste management, RCRA, state rules

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