Jump to main content.

Frequent Questions - NHSM Categorical Rule Proposal

  1. Why is EPA proposing to amend the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule ?

    In the February 7, 2013 NHSM rule, EPA listed particular NHSMs as “categorical” non-waste fuels. Persons burning categorical non-wastes do not need to evaluate them under the general case-by-case standards and procedures that would otherwise apply to NHSMs used in combustion units. In that rule, EPA also indicated that it would consider adding additional NHSMs to the list of materials that are considered categorical non-wastes and identified several materials that would be good candidates for a future rulemaking. This action proposes to add three materials to the list of categorical non-waste fuels.

  2. What materials are included in the proposed rule?

    Based on all available information, the EPA determined that the following NHSMs are not solid wastes when burned as a fuel in combustion units and is proposing to list them as categorical non-wastes under section 241.4(a): (1) Construction and demolition (C&D) wood processed from C&D debris according to best management practices, (2) Paper recycling residuals, including old corrugated cardboard (OCC) rejects, generated from the recycling of recovered paper and paperboard products and burned on-site by paper recycling mills the boilers of which are designed to burn solid fuel, and (3) Creosote treated railroad ties that are processed and combusted in units designed to burn both biomass and fuel oil.

  3. What are the best management practices required for C&D wood under the proposal?

    Combustors of C&D wood must obtain a written certification from C&D processing facilities that the C&D wood has been processed by trained operators in accordance with best management practices. Best management practices for purposes of this categorical listing must include sorting by trained operators that excludes or removes the following materials from the final product fuel: non-wood materials (e.g., polyvinyl chloride and other plastics, drywall, concrete, aggregates, dirt, and asbestos), and wood treated with creosote, pentachlorophenol, chromated copper arsenate, or other copper, chromium, or arsenical preservatives. In addition, C&D processing facilities that use positive sorting—where operators pick out desirable wood from co-mingled debris—must either: (1) exclude all painted wood from the final product fuel, (2) use X-ray Fluorescence to ensure that painted wood included in the final product fuel does not contain lead-based paint, or (3) require documentation that a building has been tested for and does not include lead-based paint before accepting demolition debris from that building.

    C&D processing facilities that use negative sorting—where operators remove contaminated or otherwise undesirable materials from co-mingled debris—must remove fines (i.e., small-sized particles that may contain relatively high concentrations of lead and other contaminants) and either: (1) remove painted wood, (2) use X-ray Fluorescence to detect and remove lead-painted wood, or (3) require documentation that a building has been tested for and does not include lead-based paint before accepting demolition debris from that building.

  4. In general, what is the purpose of the NHSM rule?

    The NHSM rule generally established standards and procedures for identifying whether non-hazardous secondary materials are solid wastes when used as fuels or ingredients in combustion units. If material is a solid waste under RCRA, a combustion unit burning it is required to meet the Clean Air Act (CAA) 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.

  5. How does this proposal impact the regulated community?

    These proposed categorical listings make it easier to comply with the NHSM regulations as persons that generate or burn these NHSMs will not need to make individual determinations on their materials regarding their waste status. This action demonstrates the Agency’s commitment from its previous NHSM rulemakings that it would consider adding additional NHSMs to the categorical listings and reflects the Agency's overall commitment to advance sustainability objectives in its actions.


Top of Page

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.