EPA Revises Exemptions for Wastewater Treatment

EPA announced on Sept. 28 that it has finalized revisions to the wastewater treatment exemptions for hazardous waste mixtures, an action also known as the "Headworks Rule Exemptions."

Headworks rule exemptions are a part of the Subtitle C, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that regulate hazardous waste. This rule determines which methods of managing hazardous waste mixtures produce discharges that can safely be handled under nonhazardous waste standards.

Wastewater treatment systems receive many different kinds of waste. EPA officials said the agency is taking steps to provide flexible and environmentally sound regulatory management through the following four revisions:

  • The addition of two solvents (benzene and 2-ethoxyethanol) to a list of solvents whose mixtures are exempted from the rules under RCRA.
  • The addition of an option to directly measure solvent chemical levels at the headworks of the wastewater treatment system to the current requirement.
  • A clarification in the preamble that scrubber waters generated from the incineration of spent solvents listed in the headworks rule would be eligible for the exemption.
  • The addition of listed hazardous wastes as eligible for the exemption, as well as the addition of non-manufacturing facilities to those that qualify for this exemption if certain conditions are met.

Many of these changes are based on the public comments that EPA received during the public comment period. The headworks exemptions have been revised occasionally as new wastes have been added to the lists of hazardous wastes.

For more information on the headworks rule, see http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/id/headworks/index.htm.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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