Getting Involved in the Hazardous Waste Permitting Process

Hazardous Waste Program fact sheet
04/2018
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Ed Galbraith
PUB916

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 U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web page, Typical Wastes Generated by Industry Sectors.

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:

Hazardous waste listings and definitions can be found in Code of Federal Regulations 40 CFR 261, Subparts C and D, as incorporated by reference 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 other types of chemicals that can no longer be used.

What is a hazardous waste permit?
A hazardous waste permit is a legally binding, enforceable document containing requirements based on the applicable regulations governing the management standards for treating, storing and disposing hazardous wastes. Hazardous waste permits may also contain provisions regarding long-term monitoring and maintenance for closed hazardous waste management units and investigation and necessary clean-up of releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment. A typical hazardous waste permit contains the following information:

Who needs a hazardous waste permit?
Companies that want to actively treat, store (beyond the time allowed for hazardous waste generators) or dispose hazardous waste in Missouri are required to get a hazardous waste permit. Companies generating hazardous waste generally do not need a hazardous waste permit if they store it according to the applicable hazardous waste generator regulations found in 10 CSR 25-5 and do not treat or land dispose it. Companies only transporting hazardous waste may need other types of permits or licenses, but not a hazardous waste permit. Certain “inactive” hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facilities (i.e., those with closed hazardous waste management units that were formerly granted interim status for hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal) may be required to get a hazardous waste permit to investigate, monitor and clean up releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment from their facility.

Who issues hazardous waste permits in Missouri?
A hazardous waste permit may involve two separate permits, depending on the facility activities. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources issues the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Facility Part I Permit, commonly referred to as a Part I Permit. In some instances, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue a Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments Part II Permit, or Part II Permit. If both permits are required, they are normally issued at the same time.

Why can there be two permits?
Several decades ago, the U.S. Congress passed laws to address public concerns about hazardous waste management. The laws are known as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) (pronounced "rick-rah"), and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (HSWA). RCRA set up a hazardous waste "cradle-to-grave" system and gave EPA the authority to track hazardous waste from the time it is generated, until it is recycled, treated or disposed. HSWA added additional requirements to RCRA. This amendment outlined tougher hazardous waste management standards and increased EPA’s enforcement authority. The amendment also added requirements for facility-wide corrective action, or cleanup, of all releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment at hazardous waste facilities resulting from present and past hazardous waste handling practices.

EPA writes the regulations to implement RCRA and HSWA. EPA can authorize states to carry out all or part of these regulations under RCRA-equivalent state hazardous waste programs in lieu of the federal RCRA program. Missouri adopted the majority of the federal regulations by incorporating them by reference in the Code of State Regulations. In authorizing Missouri’s RCRA-equivalent hazardous waste program, EPA determined the state requirements are at least as stringent and are equivalent and consistent with RCRA. The Part I Permit contains the federal requirements Missouri adopted and EPA authorized Missouri to administer.

There are a few remaining federal regulations Missouri has either not yet adopted or has adopted but EPA has not yet given Missouri temporary or final authorization to administer. The Part II Permit contains the federal requirements administered by EPA that Missouri is not authorized to administer. EPA does not issue a Part II Permit if Missouri has adopted and is fully authorized for all permitting requirements at a facility.

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 land 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 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 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 notice 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 one two-part permit application to both the department and EPA. Part A of the application is a form, which contains general information about the facility. Part B is a very detailed, highly technical document consisting of hundreds to thousands of pages of facility-specific information. The application focuses on the following information:

Step 3: Receive, Review and Revise the Application
The department’s Hazardous Waste Program, Permits Section reviews the permit application for completeness 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 letter to the company, listing the information necessary to make the permit application complete. The company responds to the department by sending the missing information. 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 invites the public to review the permit application while the department conducts a technical review of the permit application. The department then places a 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, in limited instances, EPA thoroughly review the details of the application to make sure it meets the requirements of applicable state and federal laws and regulations. The department and EPA also review the planned facility design and operation against sound engineering practices and principles. The application must contain information indicating the company can manage hazardous waste safely and responsibly. This technical review may result in lengthy technical comments from the department or EPA and requests for the company to provide additional information. The company responds to the comments by sending responses or additional 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, to which the company responds. This cycle continues until the application is technically adequate. As a result, technical review and revision of a permit application can take a substantial amount of time to complete and requires a great deal of coordination between the department, EPA and the company. The overall technical review time depends on the quality of the permit application. The more complete and technically adequate 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 a draft permit 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. A draft permit is prepared if the permit application is complete, technically adequate and meets all applicable legal, regulatory and engineering requirements. The draft permit states the proposed conditions the facility will be required to operate under when the final permit is issued. The department also prepares a fact sheet, briefly describing the facility activities and any legal or procedural issues considered when preparing the draft permit or notice of intent to deny.

When the department and EPA finish preparing the draft permit or notice of intent to deny, the department conducts the public participation activities for the draft Part I Permit, as described in 10 CSR 25- 8.124(1)(A)10. If EPA prepares a draft Part II Permit, EPA conducts the public participation activities for the draft Part II Permit, as described in 40 CFR 124.10. The department and EPA usually issue the public notice for both draft documents together. 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 permit that includes active hazardous waste land disposal, the department will also issue a news release to the local media. The notices announce the draft permit or notice of intent to deny is available, along with the supporting documents, for public review and comment. The department places a copy of the draft permit or notice of intent to deny and any supporting documents in the same publicly accessible location as the complete permit application. A copy of all the documents are also available for public review at the department’s Elm Street Conference Center in Jefferson City, Mo. and EPA’s Information Resource Center in Lenexa, Kan. The department also posts an electronic copy of the draft permit or notice of intent to deny and fact sheet on the department’s website. 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 for the draft permit or notice of intent to deny begins the day the newspaper publishes the legal notice. During the public comment period, the public can review the draft permit or notice of intent to deny and send written comments to the department and EPA. The department also provides an electronic Public Comment Form on the department’s website.

During the public comment period, the department will hold a public hearing on any draft permit that includes active hazardous waste land disposal. The department or EPA can also hold a public meeting or public hearing at their discretion, on any draft permit that does not include active hazardous waste land disposal. During the public comment period, anyone can request a public meeting or public hearing about the draft permit or notice of intent to deny. The department notifies the public of the public meeting or public hearing the same way the draft permit or notice of intent to deny was announced for public review.

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. Written comments and oral public hearing testimony are treated with equal consideration. If comments were received, the department and EPA prepare a summary and response to all public comments and explain how each comment was addressed in making a final decision regarding the draft permit or notice of intent to deny.

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, prepare a draft permit and repeat the public review and comment period. If the agencies find the proposed decision to deny the permit application was correct, they prepare a final decision to deny the permit application. If no public comments are received during the public comment period or if the comments received are determined to be non-substantive, the department and EPA may finalize the draft permit as written. If substantive legal, technical or regulatory issues are brought up by the public comments, the department and EPA may change the permit requirements or deny the final permit altogether. In either case, the department and EPA prepare either a final decision to deny the permit or issue the final Part I and Part II Permits.

When the department and EPA finish preparing 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. If EPA prepares a final decision, EPA conducts the public participation activities for their final decision, as described in 40 CFR 124.15. The department and EPA usually issue the public notice for both final decisions together. The department sends a notification letter to everyone on the facility mailing list and anyone who commented on the draft permit or notice of intent to deny. Those who commented also receive a copy of the Summary and Response to Comments. The department also issues a news release to the local media regarding the final permit decisions. The department places a copy of the final decisions and Summary and Response to Comments in the same publicly accessible location as the draft permit or notice of intent to deny.A copy of the final decisions and Summary and Response to Comments are also made available at the department’s Elm Street Conference Center in Jefferson City, Mo. and EPA’s Information Resource Center in Lenexa, Kan. The department also posts an electronic copy of the final decisions on the department’s website. Final Part I and Part II permits will remain on this Web page as long as they are in effect.

What happens after the hazardous waste permit is issued?
After issuing the permit, 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 schedule of compliance activities required by their permit.

Permit Renewal
Part I and Part II permits are 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. At least six months before their current permit expires, companies wanting to continue their active permitted hazardous waste operations, or that are required to have their permit reissued to complete post-closure care or corrective action, must send the department and EPA a new permit application. According to 40 CFR 270.51, which is incorporated by reference in the state hazardous waste regulations, if the company submits a timely and complete application for a new hazardous waste permit and, through no fault of the company, the department and EPA are unable to issue the new permit before the currently effective permit expires, that permit is “continued” in effect until the department and EPA issue or deny a new permit. This allows the company to continue operating under the requirements of the existing “continued” Part I and Part II permits.

Permit Modification
During their term, Part I and Part II permits may become outdated due to changing facility conditions, scientific improvements or new laws or regulations. To address this, either the company, department or EPA can propose changes to permit requirements through the permit modification process, as explained in detail in 40 CFR 270.41 and 40 CFR 270.42, which are 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.

A permit modification can vary from minor adjustments to a complete overhaul of the permit. The more significant the proposed permit modification, the more opportunities for public participation. When a proposed permit modification requires an opportunity for public review and comment, only the proposed new or changed permit conditions are open for public comment. All other conditions of the Part I or Part II permit remain in effect for the term of the permit, including any time during which the permit is continued. As electronic versions become available, the department is adding permit modifications to currently effective permits to the department’s website.

Permit Revocation
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 permit. Anyone can request a permit be revoked; however, a permit may only be revoked for the reasons specified in 40 CFR 270.41 or 40 CFR 270.43, which are incorporated by reference in the state hazardous waste regulations.

Can the department and EPA’s decisions regarding the hazardous waste permit be appealed?
Yes. The company or anyone negatively affected by the department or EPA’s decision to issue, modify, deny or revoke a hazardous waste permit, or specific conditions in the final permit, may be entitled to request an appeal within 30 days from the date of the final permit decision. The written petition for an appeal on 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 an appeal on EPA’s final permit decision must be 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 the company or person feels were insufficiently addressed in the final permit decision. The Administrative Hearing Commission and Environmental Appeals Board can review appeal petitions on additional requirements included in the final permit that were not in the draft permit and, as a result, could not have been commented on during the public comment period. With regards to an appeal on the department’s final permit decision, the Administrative Hearing Commission provides their appeal findings and recommendation to the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Commission for review and final appeal decision.

How can the public become involved?
The department firmly believes those who must live with the outcome of an environmental decision should know what is going on, have the opportunity to raise relevant concerns and have an active role in the decision-making process. The public can provide valuable information and ideas that can help the department and EPA reach better technical solutions, improve the quality of the company’s decisions about protecting human health and the environment and address environmental justice and other community-based concerns. The hazardous waste permitting process provides several opportunities for the public to express ideas and concerns and provide input, such as the pre-application meeting, public comment period and public meeting or hearing, where the public can speak with the company, the department and EPA. Listed below are additional things the public can do both during and outside the hazardous waste permitting process:

Additional Information
Active Hazardous Waste Permits, Orders and Regulatory Agreements
Code of Federal Regulations
Hazardous Waste Written Public Comment form
Missouri Code of State Regulations for Department of Natural Resources
Missouri Revised Statutes
Public Notices and Opportunities department Web page
Typical Wastes Generated by Industry Sectors