- Report Published -
|Collection and Disposal of Household and Conditionally Exempt Hazardous Waste in Virginia|
|Department of Environmental Quality|
|HJR 515 (Regular Session, 1993)|
|In 1976, Congress passed The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which regulates the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous and solid waste. Congress specified that two types of waste would not be subject to full regulation as a hazardous waste under RCRA; these wastes exhibit the properties of hazardous waste but are exempt from regulation solely because of their origin (households) or because they were generated in quantities below the threshold for regulation (Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators or CESQGs). Household hazardous waste is excluded from the definition of hazardous waste while CESQG hazardous waste is included in the definition of hazardous waste but exempt from most of the regulatory requirements for hazardous waste. Under current guidelines, these corrosive, ignitable, toxic, or reactive wastes can be, and often are, disposed of in municipal solid waste landfills, incinerators, or through wastewater treatment facilities, none of which are specifically designed to protect the environment from hazardous waste.|
There are many opinions concerning the actual risk to the environment from the disposal and household and CESQG hazardous waste in the municipal waste stream; there are seen more opinions about hazardous waste collection programs, especially when the potential risk is compared to the cost of collection and disposal programs. Many people think that when hazardous waste from households and CESQGs are disposed of with the municipal solid waste stream, the hazardous waste is diluted to the point that any risk of harm is minimal; however, risks to the environment from hazardous waste managed in this manner do exist. Some of the problems that may arise from hazardous waste in the municipal waste stream are environmental poisoning such as ground-water contamination, injuries to waste management workers, and equipment and property damage.
Ten communities and public service authorities in Virginia have recognized this danger and have provided some type of household hazardous waste service which collects and disposes of household hazardous waste in an environmentally safe manner; ten more communities are currently planning collection programs. These programs range from one-day collection services to permanent collection facilities. The average number of households participating in these programs was reported as 28,783 or 1.31% of the population. The one-day collection programs collected an average of 15,000 lbs. of waste at an average cost of $44,000, or $5,900 per ton, and the permanent collection programs collected an average of 47,000 lbs. of waste at an average cost of $129,000 per year, or $5,500 per ton. The leading source of funds for these programs is local government general funds. Four of the programs are funded through landfill tipping fees and Loudoun County was able to fund its program through an EPA region III Solid Waste Management Assistance Program Grant in the amount of $25,000.