Getting Involved in the Hazardous Waste Permitting Process
|Hazardous Waste Program fact sheet||
|Division of Environmental Quality Director: Leanne Tippett Mosby||
This fact sheet introduces Missouri citizens to some important features of the hazardous waste permitting process. Businesses should refer to the appropriate state and federal laws and regulations and review the fact sheet, Does Your Business Generate Hazardous Waste? (PUB117), available on the department’s website at www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub117.pdf, or by calling the department’s Hazardous Waste Program at 573-751-3176 or 800-361-4827.
What is hazardous waste?
A hazardous waste is any solid waste that is ignitable, corrosive, reactive (tendency to react/ explode), toxic or listed as a hazardous waste in state or federal regulations. Solid waste includes the following materials:
- Materials that have been or are intended to be thrown away, or are being stored indefinitely instead of being thrown away.
- Recycled materials.
- Naturally waste-like materials.
- Waste military weapons and ammunition.
Hazardous waste listings and definitions are located in Code of Federal Regulations
40 CFR 261, Subparts C and D, incorporated and modified in Code of State Regulations
10 CSR 25-4.261. Hazardous wastes can be wastes from manufacturing processes or discarded commercial products, including used solvents, electroplating chemicals, oil-refining sludge, banned pesticides and chemicals that can no longer be used and are headed for disposal.
What is a hazardous waste permit?
A hazardous waste permit is a legally binding enforceable regulatory document that lists what kinds of hazardous waste a company can manage and how those hazardous wastes must be managed. A typical hazardous waste permit contains the following information:
- A description of the facility’s design and operation.
- Safety standards and activities the company must comply with, such as monitoring and reporting.
- Requirements regarding the development of emergency plans, providing insurance and financial backing, training employees that handle or manage hazardous waste and closing and cleaning up the facility.
- Facility-specific requirements such as long-term monitoring and maintenance activities or post-closure care for areas of the facility where hazardous waste or hazardous constituents will remain in place after closure is finished, such as landfills.
Who needs a hazardous waste permit?
Companies that actively treat, store (for more than 90 days) or dispose of hazardous waste in Missouri are required to get a hazardous waste permit. Companies that produce hazardous waste generally do not need a hazardous waste permit if they store it for less than 90 days and do not treat it. Companies that only transport hazardous waste may need other types of permits or licenses, but not a hazardous waste permit. Some “inactive” hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facilities are also required to have a hazardous waste permit in order to investigate, monitor and clean up hazardous waste releases to the environment at their facility.
Who issues hazardous waste permits in Missouri?
A complete hazardous waste permit is actually two separate permits. The department issues the first permit, called a Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Facility Part I Permit, commonly referred to as a Part I Permit. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, issues the second permit, called a Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments Part II Permit, or Part II Permit. Both permits are normally issued at the same time.
Why are there two permits? Several decades ago, the U.S. Congress passed laws to address public concerns about the management of hazardous waste. The laws are known as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, or RCRA (pronounced "rick-rah"), and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984, or HSWA. EPA wrote regulations to implement these laws and can authorize states to carry out all or part of these regulations. EPA authorized Missouri to implement the RCRA regulations and some, but not all, of the HSWA regulations. The Part I Permit contains the requirements EPA authorized Missouri to administer, along with any additional state requirements. EPA deemed Missouri’s hazardous waste regulations as equivalent and consistent with the federally administered RCRA program. The Part II Permit contains the federal requirements administered by EPA that Missouri has not adopted or does not have temporary or final authorization from EPA to administer. Under certain circumstances, both permits may contain the same conditions. EPA may also choose not to issue a Part II Permit if EPA has no site-specific conditions for that particular facility and Missouri is fully authorized for all permitting activities at the site.
What are the steps in the permitting process?
Step 1: Start the Process
Before submitting a permit application to build, substantially alter or operate a hazardous waste disposal facility (e.g. a landfill), state hazardous waste regulations require the company to submit a Letter of Intent to the department. The department conducts the public participation activities for the Letter of Intent, as described in 10 CSR 25-8.124(1)(B)1.B. The department arranges for the letter to be published once a week, for four consecutive weeks, in a newspaper serving the county where the facility is currently or proposed to be located.
Before submitting a permit application for a new hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility, or for an existing facility where the permit is being renewed and the company is suggesting a major change to the facility’s operation, state hazardous waste regulations require the company to hold an informal public meeting. The company conducts the public participation activities for the “pre-application” public meeting, as described in 10 CSR 25-8.124(1)(B)1.E. The company notifies the public by placing a notice in a local newspaper, putting up a sign on or near the facility property and broadcasting an announcement on a local radio or television station. At the public meeting, the public can ask the company questions and offer suggestions regarding the facility and proposed operations. Company employees can also get an understanding of the public’s point of view and address any public concerns. The company makes a sign-in sheet available at the meeting for those who want to be included on the facility mailing list. People on this list receive updates from the company and the department about any major permitting and cleanup activities at the facility.
Step 2: Apply for a Permit
The company submits the same two-part permit application for both the department and EPA hazardous waste permits. Part A of the application includes two forms that contain general information about the facility. Part B may be several volumes, made up of hundreds or thousands of pages, containing very detailed and highly technical information. The application focuses on the following information:
- How the facility will be designed, built, operated and maintained to be protective of public health and the environment.
- How any emergencies and spills will be handled, if they occur.
- How the company will remove and clean their equipment and structures when they no longer want to be permitted.
- How the company will investigate, monitor and cleanup any releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment at their facility.
- How the company will estimate the costs for the closure, post-closure care and any cleanup activities and how they will demonstrate financial resources are in place to make sure these activities are completed.
Step 3: Receive, Review and Revise the Application
The department’s Hazardous Waste Program, Permits Section reviews the permit application to make sure the company addressed all applicable areas of the hazardous waste regulations. Only the company’s attempt to address the areas of the regulations, not the technical accuracy of the application, is the focus during this stage. If the application is incomplete, the department sends a request to the company, listing the information necessary to make the permit application complete. When the department determines the permit application is complete, the department conducts the public participation activities described in 10 CSR 25-8.124(1)(B)2.B. The department places a legal notice in a local newspaper and sends a copy of the legal notice to everyone on the facility mailing list. The notice announces the department received a complete permit application and it is available for public review. The department then places a paper copy of the complete permit application and any supporting documents in a publicly accessible location near the facility, usually a public library.
After the application is complete, the department and EPA carefully review the details of the application to make sure it follows applicable state and federal laws and regulations. The department and EPA also review the planned design and operation of the facility against sound engineering practices and principles. The company must prove it can manage hazardous waste safely and responsibly. This technical review almost always requires lengthy technical comments from the department or EPA and requests for the company to provide additional information. The company responds to the comments or requests by sending the information and revising the permit application as needed. Each time the department and EPA receive a response from the company, the information is reviewed and, if necessary, additional comments are sent to the company. As a result, the technical review and revision of a permit application can take a long time to complete, often months, sometimes years and requires a great deal of coordination between the department, EPA and the company. The amount of time the technical review takes depends on the quality of the permit application. The better the permit application, the less time it will take to review.
Step 4: Draft Permit
After the technical review, the department and EPA determine whether to prepare draft Part I and Part II Permits for the facility or a Notice of Intent to Deny the permit application. The permit application can be denied if it is inadequate or the company fails or refuses to make the requested changes. Draft permits are prepared if the permit application is complete, technically adequate and meets all applicable legal, regulatory and engineering requirements. The draft permits state the proposed conditions the facility will be required to operate under if the permits are approved. The department also prepares a fact sheet, briefly describing the facility activities and any legal or procedural issues considered when preparing the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny.
The department and EPA notify the public when they release the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny. The department conducts the public participation activities for their proposed decision, as described in 10 CSR 25-8.124(1)(A)10. At the same time, EPA conducts the public participation activities for their proposed decision, as described in 40 CFR 124.10. The department and EPA usually combine the public notice for both proposed decisions. The department places a legal notice in a local newspaper, sends a copy of the legal notice and fact sheet to everyone on the facility mailing list and broadcasts an announcement on at least one local radio station. For any draft permits that include active land disposal of hazardous waste, the department will also issue a news release to the local media. The notices announce the department and EPA prepared the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny and they are available, along with the supporting documents, for public review and comment. The department places a paper copy of the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny and supporting documents in the same publicly accessible location as the permit application.
In addition to the local information repository, the department and EPA make a paper copy of the documents available for public review at the department’s Elm Street Conference Center in Jefferson City, Missouri and EPA’s Library in Lenexa, Kansas. The department also posts an electronic copy of the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny on the department’s website at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/permits/notices.htm. Supporting documents are not usually available on the department’s website because of their large file size.
Step 5: Public Comment Period
A 45-day public comment period begins the day the newspaper publishes the legal notice. During the public comment period, the public can review the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny and send written comments to the department and EPA. The department has also provided an electronic Public Comment Form on the department’s website at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/public-comment.htm.
The department will automatically schedule a public hearing about any draft permits that include active land disposal of hazardous waste. If one has not already been scheduled, anyone can submit a written request during the public comment period for a public hearing about any other draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny. The department or EPA may also hold a public hearing. In either case, the public is given 30-day’s notice before the hearing. The department notifies the public of the hearing the same way as they did when they released the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny.
Step 6: Final Permit Decision
After the close of the public comment period, the department and EPA review all written comments and any comments given at the public hearing, if one was held. If the department and EPA find their proposed decision to deny the permit application was incorrect, they will withdraw the Notice of Intent to Deny and prepare draft permits. If the department and EPA originally prepared draft permits, they may change or deny the final permits based on technical or legal issues brought up by the public comments. The department and EPA prepare either a final decision to deny the permit application or issue the final Part I and Part II Permits. The department and EPA also write a summary and response to all comments and explain how each comment was addressed in the final decision, specifying any changes made. The Summary and Response to Comments is issued at the same time as the final decision.
The department and EPA notify the public when they issue the final decision. The department conducts the public participation activities for their final decision, as described in 10 CSR 25-8.124(1)(A)15. At the same time, EPA conducts the public participation activities for their final decision, as described in 40 CFR 124.15. The department and EPA usually combine the public notice for both final decisions. The department sends a notification letter to everyone on the facility mailing list and anyone who commented on the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny. Those who commented also receive a copy of the Summary and Response to Comments. The department will also issue a news release to the local media. The department places a paper copy of the final decisions and Summary and Response to Comments in the same publicly accessible location as the draft permits or Notice of Intent to Deny.
In addition to the local information repository, the department and EPA also place a paper copy of the final decisions and Summary and Response to Comments in the department’s Elm Street Conference Center in Jefferson City, Missouri and EPA’s Library in Lenexa, Kansas. The department also posts an electronic copy of the documents on the department’s website at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/permits/activepa.htm. Final permits will remain on this Web page as long as they are in effect.
What happens after the hazardous waste permits are issued?
After issuing the permits, the department and EPA continue to monitor and inspect the construction, operation, maintenance, investigation, remediation and eventually final closure of the facility. The department and EPA make sure the company continues to follow applicable state and federal laws and regulations and the schedules of compliance activities required by their permits.
Hazardous waste permits are normally issued for a 10-year period, the maximum period currently allowed by state and federal laws and regulations. By limiting the length of the permit, the department can make sure it regularly reviews the company’s hazardous waste management activities. Companies that want to continue their active permitted hazardous waste operations, or that are required to have their permits reissued to complete post-closure care or corrective action, must send the department and EPA a new permit application at least six months before their current permit expires. If the company submits a timely permit application and, through no fault of the company, the department and EPA are unable to reissue the permits before they expire, state and federal regulations, 40 CFR 270.51, allow the facility to continue operating under the existing permits until the department and EPA issue or deny new permits.
There is the possibility that the permits may become outdated before its expiration date by changing conditions at the facility, scientific improvements or new laws. To address this, either the company or the department can propose a change in the permit requirements through the permit modification process, as explained in detail in 40 CFR 270.41 and 40 CFR 270.42, and incorporated by reference in the state hazardous waste regulations. The modification process allows the facility to improve operations, take advantage of business opportunities and make changes in response to new laws, regulations and guidance.
The modifications can vary from minor adjustments to a complete overhaul of the permit. The more significant the proposed permit modification, the more opportunities for public comment. When proposed permit modifications require an opportunity for public review and comment, only the new or changed permit conditions are open for public comment. All other conditions of the original permit remain in effect for the length of the permit, including any time during which the permits are continued before they are renewed. As electronic versions become available, the department is adding permit modifications to currently effective permits to the department’s website at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/permits/activepa.htm.
The department or EPA can revoke a facility’s permit if the company fails to follow state and federal laws and regulations or the activities required by their permits. Anyone can request a permit be revoked; however, permits may only be revoked for the reasons specified in 40 CFR 270.41 or 40 CFR 270.43.
Can the department and EPA’s decisions regarding the hazardous waste permits be appealed?
Yes. The company or anyone negatively affected by the issuance or denial of the hazardous waste permit, or specific conditions in the permit, modification of the permit or a permit revocation may be entitled to request an appeal within 30 days from the date of the final permit decision. The written petition for the department’s final permit decision must be filed with the Administrative Hearing Commission according to the procedures outlined in 10 CSR 25-2.020 and Missouri Revised Statutes, Sections 260.395.11 and 621.250, RSMo. The written petition for EPA’s final permit decision is filed with the federal Environmental Appeals Board according to the procedures outlined in 40 CFR 124.19(a).
The appeal petition must be limited to the issues brought up during the public comment period that the company or person feels were insufficiently addressed in the final permit decision. The Administrative Hearing Commission and Environmental Appeals Board can also review petitions about requirements in the final permits that were not in the draft permits and, as a result, could not have been commented on during the public comment period.
With the exception of a permit revocation, the department’s final decisions are effective on the date the department signs the decision. A final permit revocation decision becomes effective 30 days after the decision was signed, unless no comments were submitted on the proposed revocation, in which case the final permit revocation decision is effective on the date the department signs the decision. EPA’s final decisions are effective on the date EPA signs the decision if no comments were submitted on the proposed decisions. If comments were submitted, EPA’s final decisions become effective 30 days after the decision was signed.
How do I become involved?
The department firmly believes those who must live with the outcome of an environmental decision are entitled to know what is going on, have the opportunity to raise relevant concerns and have an active role in the decision-making process. You can contribute valuable information and ideas that can help the department and EPA reach better technical solutions, improve the quality of the company’s decisions about protection of human health and the environment and address environmental justice and other community-based concerns. The hazardous waste permitting process provides several opportunities for you to express your ideas and concerns, such as the pre-application meeting, public comment period and public hearing, where you can speak with the company, the department and EPA. Listed below are additional things you can do both during and outside the hazardous waste permitting process:
- Call or write to the department and ask to have your name added to the facility’s mailing list. By doing this, you will receive notice from the department or company on any major permitting and cleanup activities for that facility.
- Do your own research. Talk to local officials and research or industry organizations.
- Get involved with environmental, public interest and community groups interested in the facility. Become involved in their activities.
- Know who to call at the department and EPA for information. A department and EPA contact is listed on all Hazardous Waste Program facility-specific fact sheets, public notices and various printed materials.
- If you need to know something about the facility or have the permitting process explained to you, call the department or EPA and ask. If there are several people that need something explained, ask the department or EPA to have a public meeting. You can also call the company and ask for additional information, meet with their staff or tour the facility.
- Send written comments that are clear and to the point. Your comments are effective if they point out legal or technical issues in the permit application or proposed permit decisions. Comments that only generally support or oppose a permit will not affect the outcome or content of the final permit. Written comments are welcome any time up to the end of the public comment period.
- Go to the public hearing and other meetings. Share your comments and concerns with the company, the department, EPA and other members of your community. Provide facts that support your position. Remember that a public hearing generally will not be held unless someone from the public specifically requests one in writing. The department or EPA may decide to hold a public meeting due to overall community interest or other factors.
- Follow the process closely. Watch for the final permit and review the department’s and EPA’s summary and response to comments. Remember, you may be entitled to appeal the final decisions.
For more information
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Hazardous Waste Program
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176
800-361-4827 or 573-751-3553