On March 31, 2017, the long-awaited beneficial use rules will become effective for Ohio.  These rules have been “in the making” for quite some time, as Ohio EPA spent years gathering data, doing research, and discussing how to legally authorize the use of waste materials in ways which result in a valuable product while protecting the environment.

The new rules pertain to five categories of wastes:

  • Foundry sand;
  • Residuals from a public water supply treatment facility (e.g., lime sludge);
  • Solid waste, industrial waste, or other waste for use as fuel or as an ingredient in a combustion unit;
  • Dredge material from Lake Erie’s Federal shipping channels (does not include dredge material from other locations); and
  • Sewage sludge incinerator ash.

Also, beneficial use byproducts “…managed and beneficially used” in accordance with the rules are no longer solid wastes.  All the implications of this “exemption” from solid waste are not entirely clear.  For example, does this mean that solid wastes which are beneficially used under these rules could not be counted as solid waste recycling or waste reduction?

The rules provide three mechanisms for authorizing the beneficial use of a waste material.  First, wastes used as an ingredient in the manufacturing of specific construction materials (i.e., asphalt, cement, glass, etc.) are defined as beneficial use byproducts.  The second mechanism involves obtaining coverage under a general permit which would address a specific category or categories of beneficial use byproducts and beneficial uses.  Ohio EPA has currently drafted beneficial use general permits for foundry sand and residuals from water treatment facilities, and final versions of these general permits will be available in the future.  The third mechanism is an individual permit which could provide authorization for wastes not included in a general permit, but may also place additional limitations on the management of the material.

Over the years, Ohio EPA has issued a number of approvals for beneficial use, including land application of paper mill sludge, industrial wastewater treatment sludge, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) waste from coal combustion plant scrubbers, and the use of FGD waste in manufacturing gypsum board.  Authorization for the beneficial use of these types of materials are not addressed in the new rules, and will continue to be handled through the issuance of mechanisms such as land application management plans (LAMPs) and Director’s Findings and Orders.

The beneficial use rules can be found on Ohio EPA’s website at: https://epa.ohio.gov/dmwm/dmwmnonhazrules.aspx#1269710055-oac-chapter-3745-599-beneficial-use.

For more information, please contact Michael Greenberg at (614) 794-3570, Ext. 16 or mgreenberg@gtenvironmental.com.