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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

Combustion Risk Assessments

On May 18, 1993, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of steps that the Agency would undertake, first, to achieve reductions in the amount of hazardous waste generated in this country and, second, to ensure the safety and reliability of hazardous waste combustion in incinerators, boilers, and industrial furnaces. With this announcement, EPA released its Draft Hazardous Waste Minimization and Combustion Strategy. Eighteen months later, EPA's released its Final Strategy which solidified the Agency's policy on "how best to assure the public of safe operation of hazardous waste combustion facilities." In short, EPA's Final Strategy specifically recognized the multi-pathway risk assessment as a valuable tool for evaluating and ensuring protection of human health and the environment in the permitting of hazardous waste combustion facilities.

EPA Region 6 believes that those combustion facilities which are in close proximity to population centers, sensitive ecosystems, sensitive receptors, or areas that may have high potential for cumulative environmental impacts can be evaluated by a multi-pathway risk assessment to ensure that permit limits are protective of human health. Furthermore, EPA Region 6 believes that multi-pathway risk assessments should consider the specific nature of process operations and the type of combustion units and air pollution control equipment utilized at each facility in order to be representative of actual facility operations. Therefore, although certain provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) program have since been delegated to the States, EPA Region 6 is committed to reviewing facilities on a site-specific basis to evaluate the protectiveness of permits for combustion operations.

EPA Region 6, as part of their Work-Share Agreement with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), is currently completing various multi-pathway risk assessments for combustion facilities in the State of Louisiana and will make available completed draft risk assessment projects in order to document the Agency's effort in ensuring protective permit limits and ensuring that normal combustion facility operations do not pose unacceptable risks to surrounding communities. Additionally, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) is in the process of completing risk assessment reports for use in their permitting of hazardous waste combustion facilities.

By considering risk assessment data quality objectives and incorporating these needs into trial burn planning and testing, Region 6 believes that protective and optimal permit conditions can be crafted which benefit both the facility and surrounding communities. In addition to meeting with facilities and communities to discuss their concerns and to develop site specific information, EPA Region 6, where appropriate, utilizes the following key hazardous waste combustion guidance documents and policy initiatives:

For a more comprehensive list of combustion guidance documents, please visit the EPA OSW NESHAPs Toolkit. Additionally, please see both Federal and State Regulations for combustion units.

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