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EPA's Delisting Program for Hazardous Wastes: Current Limitations and Future Directions

December 1989

Citation: ELR 10558

Author: Richard A. Denison, Karen Florini, and Peter F. Rathbun

Editors' Summary: "Delisting" is the process by which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) excludes a particular facility's waste from otherwise applicable lists that would designate it as hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Delisting is available for wastes that do not warrant management as hazardous, due to plant-specific variations in processes, raw materials, or other factors. The delisting process has been subject to some controversy, and in the 1984 RCRA amendments Congress attempted to ensure that delisting would not result in deregulating a waste that may still be hazardous. In this Article, the authors evaluate EPA's delisting program, with special emphasis on whether EPA has met Congress' objectives as set out in the 1984 amendments. The authors analyze EPA's reliance on a particular model that estimates potential for groundwater contamination and conclude that the model is extremely limited and disregards many potential routes of exposure to contamination. The authors also argue that EPA's delisting program neglects RCRA's land ban restrictions and clean closure requirements. The authors conclude that EPA already has the authority to correct many of the problems in the program, but that Congress may want to consider the issue during the upcoming RCRA reauthorization process.

Karen Florini is an attorney, Richard A. Denison is a senior scientist, and Peter F. Rathbun is a law clerk in the Environmental Defense Fund's Toxics Program.

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