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Burning Mad: The Controversy Over Treatment of Hazardous Waste in Incinerators, Boilers, and Industrial Furnaces

April 1993

Citation: 23 ELR 10216

Issue: 4

Author: David B. Kopel

Editors' Summary: This Article examines the burning of hazardous waste in incinerators, boilers, and industrial furnaces, as regulated by RCRA. After providing a background on the controversy and competing claims about the thermal destruction of hazardous waste, the Article describes how thermal destruction devices operate and why these devices pose regulatory difficulties. The Article then analyzes how EPA and the states regulate incinerators, boilers, and industrial furnaces. The author focuses in particular on the regulation of cement kilns that burn hazardous waste and permitting issues unique to incinerators, boilers, and industrial furnaces. The Article concludes that carefully regulated and permitted facilities pose a small health risk in comparison with the health risks posed by other common industrial processes.

Formerly, an assistant attorney general in the Hazardous Waste Unit of Colorado Attorney General's office, Mr. Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado. He graduated with high honors in history from Brown University, and magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. The views expressed in this Article are the author's alone, and are not intended to represent the views of the state of Colorado.

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