Effluent Limitations Guidelines, Pretreatment Standards and NSPS for Industrial Waste Combustors
(FR-63, pages 6392-6423)
David Constans and Jim Woodford
Effluent Limitations Guidelines, Pretreatment Standards and NSPS for Industrial Waste Combustors (FR-63, pages 6392-6423) is a proposed rule released for comment in February 1998 with comments to the EPA to be received by May 7, 1998.
Upon first reading, the proposed regulation would appear to focus on a very narrow segment of industrial waste combustors that utilize wet scrubbing systems as air pollution control devices. Indeed, the rule appears almost innocuous.
Briefly, the proposed regula-tion applies to commercial industrial waste combustors that receive industrial waste from off-site and discharge industrial waste combustor wastewater. This wastewater discharge, per this rule, must meet the
BPT Effluent Limitations limits in the table below. Interpreting the rule in this narrow fashion would result in a rule that applies to perhaps as many as eleven facilities. This is the interpretation EPA used in their economic
analysis. However, the rule can be more broadly interpreted to include virtually every cement kiln, whether they use hazardous waste fuels or not, and for a broader range of pollutants than those listed.
BPT Effluent Limitation (mg/l)
Pollutant or Pollutant Parameter
Maximum of any one day
Total Suspended Solids
Priority and non-conventional Pollutants
Significant Details of the Rule and Comments
This rule exempts the 274 private non-commercial waste combustion facilities. That is, facilities which combust internally generated wastes. There are a number of such facilities which combust wastes very similar in chemical
characteristics to those combusted at commercial facilities and utilize the same or similar processes which generate the same or similar effluent. The EPA points out that the majority of these either do not generate combustion
device effluent emissions or these emissions are part of the facility effluent emissions that are treated. Indeed, the same can be said of commercial waste combustion facilities which have complex and compre-hensive permits covering
every emission from the facility. It appears inconsistent to subject commercial facilities to an effluent guideline while exempting non-commercial facilities that perform the same activity.
EPA mentions hazardous waste combustors and the hazardous waste combustor rule (HWC) in this proposed rule, but there is also the currently proposed non-hazardous waste NESHAP rule aimed at the Portland cement industry. EPA now
proposes yet another way to pull cement kilns under yet another proposed, seemingly redundant, rule and expands the universe of "waste combustor facilities" by including facilities that perform "recovery of components from ...
non-hazardous industrial waste received from off-site facilities."
So in essence, EPA is using this rule to cast a wide net and combine both hazardous and non-hazardous combustion facilities under the umbrella of "industrial waste combustor facilities" no matter whether the waste used in the
manufacturing process is hazardous or not.
Cement facilities routinely utilize industrial wastes in their process. As an example, steel mill scale containing iron, an essential ingredient in the production of cement, is utilized as a raw feed material. Other similar
industrial wastes are used as well, such as foundry sand (containing silica and iron) and industrial wastes containing alumina. The use of these non-hazardous industrial wastes allows cement companies to use less natural resources
and to minimize their raw material costs. This proposed rule would cause nearly every cement kiln in the U.S. to be classed as a commercial waste combustor due to use of such industrial wastes.
The proposed regulation in other respects does not appear to be intended to regulate facilities that use alternate raw materials such as steel mill scale or foundry sand, which are added to the kiln raw feed. The components of these
materials, iron, silica and alumina are indeed "recovered", but it is questionable that they are "combusted." A narrow interpretation of the rule would not include these activities, however, the wording of the rule clearly targets
such activities. Nor is the rule seemingly limited to combustion wastewater; that is, waste used in air pollution control systems, or to the pollutants listed in the table.
The concern is that the EPA has indicated that it "...will consider developing limits for these waste streams in this rule." These "wastestreams" include floor wash water, truck/equipment wash water or container wash water and
presumably laboratory drain water. In addition to the pollutants proposed for regulation (TSS, pH and nine metals) the possibility exists that "developing limits" may also include organic constituents. This is indicated by EPA's
statement: "Because these other streams contain both organic and inorganic pollutants...." Clearly then the EPA has set the stage for a considerable expansion of this regulation.
At this point nothing can be done about EPA's possible expansion of this rule to include more facilities, more effluent streams or more pollutants. Comments have been submitted to the EPA regarding the above points, and hopefully some
clarification and narrowing of the rule will result. However, there is some indication that state agencies will utilize this proposed regulation in formulating permit conditions for wastewater releases from facilities which are subject
to RCRA permitting. In any event, it would seem prudent that any facility which utilizes industrial wastes should examine their process and determine if there are any effluent discharges which might be subject to these regulations, and
then analyze those discharges to determine what pollutants are present and in what concentrations.