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HWIR: A New Era in Hazardous Waste Management?

June 1996

Citation: ELR 10304

Author: Philip S. Comella

The history of hazardous waste management divides into two eras: the cradle-to-grave era (beginning in 1980)1 and the land disposal restrictions (LDR) era (beginning in 1986).2 Since the decision in Shell Oil Co. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,3 however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has struggled to establish the foundation for what may be a new era. In this era, EPA must redefine hazardous wastes, limit the expansive reach of the mixture and derived-from rules, and no longer require treatment for the sake of treatment.

On December 21, 1995, EPA released its latest attempt to restructure the hazardous waste management program within the boundaries of its existing statutory authority—the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).4 EPA proposed the Hazardous Waste Identification Rule (HWIR),5 which would create a risk-based system to give hazardous waste generators and other regulated entities a number of options for exiting much of the hazardous waste management program. The availability of relief for specific generators would depend on the type and concentration of hazardous constituents in their waste and on the disposal methods used.

Mr. Comella is Of Counsel with Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson, located in Chicago, Illinois. He received his J.D. from the National Law Center at George Washington University in 1983, and his B.A. from Beloit College in 1978.

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