The 1998 PCB Disposal Amendments: Guide to the 1998 PCB "Mega Rule"

- By: , ,

Courtesy of Weston Solutions, Inc


On June 29, 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated a sweeping series of changes in the PCB regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Commonly known as the Mega-Rule or PCB Disposal Amendments (due to its focus largely on waste management issues), this long-awaited rule encompasses more than 80 changes in the regulations and spans more than 200 pages of text including the preamble. The original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published on June 10, 1991 as a call for information on a variety of issues, many of which were mainly attempts to simplify or clarify regulatory concepts that had shown indications during the last ten years or so to need rework. The most important concept, however, was the reclassification of different large volume waste types (such as contaminated soil, gas pipeline, and auto shredder fluff) to permit a broader range of low risk disposal options.

Based on input from the 1991 NPRM, EPA proposed changes to the regulations on December 6, 1994. In addition to the waste management options addressed earlier, the agency took advantage of the rulemaking process to clean up an assortment of relatively minor changes in the regulations. EPA reportedly received over 250 sets of comments, most of them largely favoring the major changes and focusing on constructive fine-tuning of the details.

The amendments became effective on August 28, 1998. Embedded in the rule are dates for compliance with certain new reporting and recordkeeping requirements that may become effective on a later date. Because the rules became effective immediately, this may cause problems for some owners who have PCB equipment that is newly regulated, for example, and for those responsible for old concrete spills that will need to be cleaned up or encapsulated immediately.

Additional negotiations between EPA and the regulated community are expected to resolve these and other issues. The reader is cautioned that the following pages represent an interpretation of the new rule and is not a substitute for the actual language of the regulations, nor do these comments apply to all situations.

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