EPA deems C&D wood, railroad ties, paper waste as nonwaste fuels

By Anna Simet | February 16, 2016

The U.S. EPA has finalized an amendment to its nonhazardous secondary materials (NHSM) rule that will add three sources of fuel to its list of categorical nonwaste fuels, potentially making it easier for biomass energy facilities to make use of them.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, NHSM rulemakings identify which nonhazardous secondary materials are or aren’t solid wastes when burned in combustion units. If material is a solid waste under RCRA, a combustion unit burning it is required to meet the Clean Air Act Section 129 emission standards for solid waste incineration units. If the material is not a solid waste, combustion units are required to meet the CAA Section 112 emission standards for commercial, industrial, and institutional boilers, much less stringent standards.

According to the EPA, the categorical listings make it easier to comply with the NHSM regulations, as facilities that generate or burn these NHSMs will not need to make individual determinations regarding their waste status.

The recent action was proposed in March 2014, with a public comment period held the following April. The amendment was finalized and published in the Federal Registar on Feb. 8, and adds the following materials:

-Construction and demolition wood processed from construction and demolition debris according to best management practices.

-Paper-recycling residuals generated from the recycling of recovered paper, paperboard and corrugated containers and combusted by paper recycling mills whose boilers are designed to burn solid fuel.

-Creosote-treated railroad ties that are processed and then combusted in units designed to burn both biomass and fuel oil as part of normal operations and not solely as part of start-up or shut down operations, and units at major source pulp and paper mills or power producers subject to 40 CFR 63 subpart DDDDD that had been designed to burn biomass and fuel oil, but are modified (e.g., oil delivery mechanisms are removed) in order to use natural gas, instead of fuel oil as part of normal operations and not solely as part of startup or shutdown operations.