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Managing Hazardous Solid Waste and Waste Sites


Managing Hazardous Solid Waste and Waste Sites ... such as the presence of toxic or carcinogenic ... Permit system This controls waste management for ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Managing Hazardous Solid Waste and Waste Sites

Managing Hazardous Solid Waste and Waste Sites
  • Chapter 17

How Serious is the Problem?
  • It is worldwide in scope, affecting both
    developed and developing nations
  • In the US, annual hazardous waste generation is
    about 36.3 million tons per year or 0.13 tons per
  • Risks are nontrivial
  • e.g., Love Canal

Overview of Recent Policy
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of
    1976 (Subtitle C)
  • Established cradle-to-grave management
    delegated nonhazardous waste control to states
  • Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984
    (reauthorized RCRA)
  • Some shift toward waste reduction and improved
  • Strengthened standards

Overall Policy Approach (RCRA)
  • Command-and-control
  • Primary responsibility is at federal level (EPA)
  • Emphasizes waste management more than source
    reduction (pollution prevention)

Components of Cradle-to-Grave Management System
  • Identification of hazardous waste
  • A waste is hazardous if it falls into one of two
  • characteristic wastes have attributes posing
    substantial risk
  • In the US, characteristics are ignitability,
    corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity
  • listed wastes pre-identified by EPA as having
    met certain criteria, such as the presence of
    toxic or carcinogenic constituents.
  • National manifest system for tracking
  • Once wastes are ready for transport, generator
    must prepare a document, called a manifest, that
    identifies the hazardous material and all parties
    responsible for its movement

Components of Cradle-to-Grave Management System
  • Permit system
  • This controls waste management for transport,
    storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs)
  • Standards for TSDFs
  • General regulatory standards apply to all types
    of TSDFs and control functions like inspections,
    emergency plans, and participation in the
    manifest program
  • Technical regulatory standards outline
    procedures and equipment requirements for
    specific types of facilities

Evolving To Pollution Prevention
  • 1984 amendments suggest some movement toward
    prevention and away from land disposal
  • Land disposal of untreated hazardous waste is
    essentially prohibited

Economic Analysis of Policy
4 Elements of the Analysis
  • Risk-based uniform rules of identification
  • Benefit-based uniform standards
  • Failures of the manifest system
  • Market implications of the 1984 land restrictions

Risk-Based Uniform Identification
  • Absence of risk-benefit analysis
  • Risk-based -- no consideration for balancing risk
    with benefits of the material before it becomes
  • Result allocative inefficiency
  • All waste materials are controlled with same
    stringency regardless of their value to society
  • Identification criteria are applied uniformly
  • No adjustments allowed for degree of toxicity or
    for the amount of waste that poses a hazard
  • Result allocative inefficiency
  • Potential for underregulation of more toxic
    wastes and overregulation of less toxic wastes

Benefit-Based Uniform Standards
  • Standards are benefit-based
  • No cost considerations
  • particularly problematic for long-term rulings
    such as post-closure procedures
  • Result allocative inefficiency
  • Standards applied uniformly
  • No consideration for site-specific differences
  • Result cost ineffectiveness

Failures of Manifest System
  • Strict CAC ? no incentives
  • Solely benefit-based
  • No consideration for costs of administration,
    compliance, etc.
  • Result allocative inefficiency
  • Limited scope
  • only 4 - 5 of U.S. hazardous waste are moved off
    site and therefore subject to manifest system
  • High compliance costs
  • Potential incentive to illegally dispose

Market Implications of 1984 Land Restrictions
  • Landfilling had become predominant form of
    disposal because it was believed to be a lower
    cost alternative, due in part to scale economies
  • Error was that external costs were ignored
  • Policy response was 1984 land restrictions
  • Land use restrictions raise MPC, reducing
    landfilling activity, which lowers external costs
    in that market
  • Issue How is landfilling reduction achieved?
  • If through source reduction, society gains
  • If through alternative practice, such as
    incineration, the net effect is unclear because
    that practice adds external costs

Effect of Land Restrictions Source Reduction or
Alternative Practice?

Land Disposal
Unless the decline in external costs in the
landfilling market is larger than the increase
in external costs in the incineration market, the
land restrictions achieve no net decline in
external costs to society
Market-Based Policy
Waste-end Charge
  • A fee in place at time of disposal based on the
    quantity of waste generated
  • To achieve efficiency, the charge must be set
    equal to the MSC of hazardous waste services at
    the efficient output level to cover MPC of the
    waste facility plus MEC from associated pollution
  • Real-world examples
  • Australia, Austria, Belgium, and Finland charge a
    fee on hazardous waste
  • 35 U.S. states charge a tax on hazardous waste

Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Sites
  • Superfund

Overview of Policy
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response,
    Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 1980
  • Established CERCLIS, a national inventory of
    hazardous waste sites
  • CERCLIS is used to identify the worst sites and
    place them on National Priorities List (NPL)
  • Established a 1.6 billion fund to clean up and
    recover damage
  • Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
    (SARA) 1986
  • Reauthorized CERCLA
  • Increased fund to 8.5 billion
  • Mandated federal action on 375 sites within a
    5-year period promotes permanent clean-up

Overview of Policy (continued)
  • Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields
    Revitalization Act of 2001(known as Brownfields
  • Amends CERCLA
  • Outlines exemptions from Superfund liability
  • Authorizes grant funding of up to 200 million
    annually for assessment and abatement of
    brownfield sites
  • Abandoned or underutilized properties that are
    less contaminated than Superfund sites, but
    redevelopment is complicated by (potential)
    presence of contamination

In 1995, over 24,000 sites were removed from the
CERCLIS inventory as part of EPAs Brownfields
Economic Redevelopment Initiative (aimed at
promoting redevelopment of these
sites.) Sources U.S. EPA, Office of Emergency
and Remedial Response (April 2000), as cited by
Council on Environmental Quality (1998), p. 312,
table 8.9 and updated online U.S. EPA, Office of
Solid Waste and Emergency Response (April 1997).
Superfund Procedures Response/Cleanup National
Contingency Plan (NCP)
  • The substance release is identified and the
    National Response Center is notified
  • Site is listed in CERCLIS
  • EPA responds
  • Removal Action to restore immediate control
  • Remedial Action to achieve permanent solution
  • Hazard Ranking System (HRS)
  • If site gets a risk ranking gt 28.50 out of 100 in
    the HRS, it is placed on the NPL

Superfund Procedures (continued) Response/Cleanup
National Contingency Plan (NCP)
  • Site is listed on the Construction Completion
    List (CCL) when
  • all immediate threats are addressed
  • all long-term threats are under control
  • Site is deleted from the NPL when the EPA and the
    state jointly determine that no further remedial
    actions are needed

Steps in a Superfund Cleanup
Source U.S. EPA, Office of Solid Waste and
Emergency Response (December 11, 2000).
Compensation and Liability
  • EPA has authority to force those responsible to
    correct the problem and pay for damage
  • The law identifies potentially responsible
    parties (PRPs) as
  • Current or former owners or operators of a site
    and all parties involved in disposal, treatment,
    or transport of hazardous substances to site
  • Economically, the intent is to internalize the

Emergency Planning Title III of SARA
  • Public must be informed of production and release
    of hazardous substances according to Title III of
  • Each state sets up an emergency plan in the event
    of a hazardous release
  • Various reports about hazardous substances are
    required by law
  • Resulting data forms the Toxics Release Inventory
    (TRI) published annually by EPA

Analysis of Policy
Assessing Superfunds Performance
  • CERCLA of 1980 was a national failure
  • 1.6 billion cleaned up only 8 sites
  • Slow progress removing NPL sites
  • As of 2005, only 293 have officially been removed
    from the NPL
  • Average cost of remedial action is 25 million
    per site
  • Problem of how clean is clean
  • Sites are brought to a uniform level of
  • Debate is whether this decision should be
    risk-based or benefit-cost based

Two Major Flaws in Superfund
  • Poor information and reporting practices
  • An initial lack of awareness about the extent of
    the problem
  • Inadequate knowledge of abatement technology

Two Major Flaws in Superfund
  • Absence of market incentives
  • Feedstock taxes that financed Superfund were
    targeted to be revenue producing, not as an
    incentive to reduce use of hazardous materials
  • Definition of PRPs liability is disincentive for
    individuals to come forward
  • Strict liability a party is responsible even if
    negligence is not proven
  • Joint and several liability single party is
    responsible for all damages even if contribution
    is minimal
  • Outcome is resource misallocation from cleanup to
    litigation procedures