SWANA Comments on EPA Proposed Regulations Regarding PFAS Designation as Hazardous Constituents

SWANA Comments on EPA Proposed Regulations Regarding PFAS Designation as Hazardous Constituents

April 10, 2024 – The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s proposed regulation on the “Definition of Hazardous Waste Applicable to Corrective Action for Releases From Solid Waste Management Units” and comments on the EPA’s proposed ”Listing of Specific PFAS as Hazardous Constituents.” 

EPA’s proposed changes to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations are meant to clarify EPA’s authority to identify and clean up emerging chemicals of concern, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), under RCRA at permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. The proposed regulations would list nine PFAS compounds to the list of hazardous constituents. The proposal would not require PFAS to be handled as a hazardous waste as defined by RCRA. EPA’s goal for the draft regulations would be to allow for EPA corrective action to address PFAS releases at RCRA hazardous waste facilities.

RCRA governs the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste in separate but related programs. Solid waste is managed under RCRA Subtitle D which includes requirements for municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills and other solid waste disposal facilities, prohibits open dumping, and encourages state-level comprehensive solid waste management plans. Hazardous waste is managed under RCRA Subtitle C, which includes systems for managing hazardous waste from generation until final disposal.

While the proposed rules are intended to address hazardous waste sites (RCRA Subtitle C) and do not apply directly to MSW landfills or other non-hazardous waste programs (RCRA Subtitle D), SWANA is concerned about the potential unintended consequences for MSW landfills.

SWANA supports the goal of addressing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and holding manufacturers accountable. Landfills and solid waste disposal sites neither manufacture nor use PFAS; instead, they receive discarded materials containing PFAS that are ubiquitous in residential and commercial waste streams.

Designating PFAS as a hazardous constituent may lead to more restrictive measures that could have implications for the treatment of leachate containing PFAS. SWANA’s comments address the need to provide protections for MSW landfills in advance of future potential action that could impact Subtitle D facilities.

SWANA has been proactively engaging on PFAS concerns from an advocacy perspective as well as keeping members informed on advances in technologies and regulatory developments.

Additional information on the proposed regulations can be found on the EPA website.