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Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions (2019)

Chapter: 6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies

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Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
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6

Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies

The primary regulatory programs governing the treatment of conventional munitions—whether open burning (OB), open detonation (OD), or alternative technologies—is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitting program1 and the Clean Air Act (CAA) program.2 Under RCRA, hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) used to demilitarize waste munitions are required to obtain, after notice and public comment, permits that establish specific operating conditions, as well as the requirements for facility closure. The RCRA Military Munitions Rule (MMR) is specifically applicable to unused conventional munitions and how they are designated as hazardous waste, stored, and transported under RCRA. (For more information on the Military Munitions Rule, see Appendix C.)

While RCRA is a federal program, each of the seven states that have jurisdiction over Army stockpile depots are authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement RCRA permitting and compliance. States may impose more stringent requirements than those found in federal regulations. Six of the seven Army OB/OD facilities have been issued final permits.3 The Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) still has an interim status under RCRA for its OB/OD units.4 Interim status allows the facility to operate until the state issues its final ruling on the facility’s Part B RCRA permit application.5

Alternative technology units at the seven Army stockpile depots also are permitted under RCRA. Many are permitted as miscellaneous Subpart X units, although some thermal treatment technologies meet the regulatory definition of, and are permitted as, incinerators.6 Some alternative technologies may fall under certain RCRA TSDF permitting exemptions. Table 6.1 shows the existing permitted alternative technology units.

OB/OD and alternative technology units may be subject to permitting under CAA, which governs air emissions from certain types of facilities. The applicability of CAA regulations will depend on the type of emissions associated with the unit. To prevent duplication of regulatory jurisdiction, RCRA permits may include air emission controls.7 However, certain facilities (including incinerators) that emit listed hazardous air pollutants are required to meet air pollution control standards that apply maximum achievable control technology (MACT). These facilities require separate CAA Title V permits. Depending upon the emissions, alternative technologies may also be required to meet alternative specific MACT requirements. Since there is no national industry category for these alternative technologies, the MACT requirements will need to be established through a resource intensive process on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, OB/OD units and alternative technology units may be subject to permitting or restrictions under the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act governs discharges of wastewater into streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans, as well as run-off. Permits or similar approvals may also be required under state and local water-use laws, noise and odor regulations, and cultural and natural resources laws.

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1 42 U.S. Code §6901 et seq; Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR §§260 to 272.

2 42 U.S. Code §7401 et seq; 40 CFR Parts 50-98.

3 40 CFR 264.

4 40 CFR 265.

5 40 CFR 270, Subpart G, and 40 CFR 265.

6 The permitting state determines whether a TSDF unit is governed by Subpart X provisions because it does not meet the definition of other types of specifically permitted units, including incinerators (Subpart O), surface impoundment (Subpart K), waste pile (Subpart L), land treatment unit (Subpart M), landfill (Subpart N), or a boiler or industrial furnace.

7 40 CFR 264 and Part 265, Subparts AA, BB, and CC. 40 CFR 60, Parts 60, 61, and 63.

Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
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APPLICATION OF RCRA TO OB/OD AND ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

The EPA’s initial hazardous waste permit regulations, issued in 1980, banned the OB and OD of hazardous wastes,8 except for waste explosives, which include “waste which has the potential to detonate and bulk military propellants which cannot be safely disposed of through other modes of treatment.”9 The EPA found that “waste explosives and bulk propellants are inherently dangerous to cut or disassemble to make them amenable to present thermal treatment technologies and that open burning and open detonation of known types of and amounts of bulk propellants and explosives can be conducted safely without harm to human health and the environment.”10 The 1980 permitting regulation allows the OB and OD of waste explosives, within specified distance and weight limitations, during the interim status permitting period.11 In 1987, the EPA concluded that facilities conducting OB/OD of waste explosives would receive permits under the RCRA Subpart X provisions as miscellaneous units.12

RCRA regulations establish specific conditions for certain TSDF technologies, including incinerators; thermal treatment; chemical, physical, and biological treatment; land treatment; landfills; and surface impoundments. In those situations where a treatment process does not meet the definition under any of these specific technologies, EPA or an authorized state permits the technology as a miscellaneous unit, often referred to as Subpart X.13 Subpart X regulations govern the location, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and closure of these treatment facilities.14 Most alternative technology facilities (except for incinerators) are designated as miscellaneous units under Subpart X (see Table 6.1).

Rather than establishing specific regulatory permit conditions for testing, emissions control, and operations for a wide variety of miscellaneous treatment technologies, the RCRA Subpart X regulations require that miscellaneous units “must be located, designed, constructed, operated, maintained, and closed in a manner that will ensure protection of human health and the environment, including, but not limited to, as appropriate, design and operating requirements, detection and monitoring requirements, and requirements for responses to release of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents from the unit.”15

Two EPA regions have issued draft guidance for permitting Subpart X units, but none of these regional guidances were finalized (EPA, 2002; Tetra Tech, 2002). However, state environmental agencies are not required to include or enforce permit conditions suggested in EPA guidance in general and regional guidance in particular.16 Since there is no final, nationwide EPA guidance or regulation concerning what risk goals should be applied to ensure protection of human health and the environment for Subpart X units, states with jurisdiction over the seven stockpile depots may apply different risk goals based on state laws, regulations, and policies. Therefore, each state’s permit writers must follow state law and regulations and typically review and assess scientific information, policies, and legal requirements each time a Subpart X permit is being developed for an alternative technology, resulting in duplication of effort by the Army and the state and possible conflicting outcomes for similar facilities. The lack of specific detail in the regulations concerning technical permitting requirements for Subpart X facilities places the burden on state regulators to devise technology- and site-specific requirements for OB/OD and for the wide range of alternative technologies discussed in this report, yet with fewer resources than are typically available for the promulgation of a national regulation by the EPA.

Generally, the EPA uses risk ranges of between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 1 million for incremental lifetime cancer risk to determine whether a regulatory action is needed to protect human health (GAO, 2000).17,18 Many of the states that have granted RCRA OB/OD Subpart X miscellaneous

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8 40 CFR 260.10—Open burning is defined as the combustion of any material without the following characteristics: (1) control of combustion air to maintain adequate temperature for efficient combustion; (2) containment of the combustion reaction in an enclosed device to provide sufficient residence time and mixing for complete combustion; and (3) control of emission of the gaseous combustion products.

9 40 CFR 265.382.

10 45 Federal Register 33063-33285, p. 33217, May 19, 1980.

11 45 Federal Register 33063-33285, p. 33217, May 19, 1980.

12 52 Federal Register 46.946, 46.949-50, 46.957-58 (December 10, 1987).

13 40 CFR 264, Subpart X, 264.600-603.

14 40 CFR 264.601.

15 40 CFR 264.601.

16 For example, the Seventh Circuit ruled that “Region V is not the ‘Administrator’ [of EPA]. Its policy statement is a go-it-alone document separate from the Administrator’s advice to the states. Unless the Administrator later applies the policy statement to a plant, nothing will come of it.” American Paper Institute, Inc., Petitioner, v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Respondent, 882 F.2d 287 (7th Cir. 1989), https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/882/287/207683/. Furthermore, the court noted, “[n]either Region V nor the Administrator ‘promulgated’ anything. Promulgation means issuing a document with legal effect. Region V’s policy statement has none: it does not appear in the Federal Register and will not be codified in the Code of Federal Regulations.” Brock v. Cathedral Bluffs Shale Oil Co., https://openjurist.org/796/f2d/533/brock-v-cathedral-bluffs-shale-oil-co.

17EPA (2002) states that if the cancer and non-cancer risks calculated using site-specific data and modeling are below certain screening levels no further evaluation is necessary. These screening levels are defined as exposure that corresponds to a 1 in 100,000 (“10–5”) lifetime cancer risk for exposure at the fenceline and, for non-cancer risks, a screening level risk measured by a hazard index (i.e., the ratio of the calculated exposure to an exposure level that is unlikely to present a significant non-cancer risk). If these screening levels are exceeded, “the site should be assessed through a detailed risk evaluation.”

18 EPA’s 2002 Region III “Draft Final Open Burning/Open Detonation Permitting Guidelines” (EPA Region III Draft OB/OD Guidance), written specifically for Subpart X applicants in the state of Virginia, uses somewhat different risk screening values based on Virginia regulations.

Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
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TABLE 6.1 RCRA-Permitted Alternative Technologies at Army Stockpile Facilities

Technology Army Facility Permitting State Permit
Deactivation furnace (APE 1236) TEAD, MCAAP, CAAA Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana Subpart O, Incinerator
Ammonium perchlorate rocket motor destruction facility (ARMD) LEMC Pennsylvania Subpart X, Miscellaneous unit
Disassembly line (primers from small-caliber munitions) TEAD Utah Subpart X, Miscellaneous unit
Static Detonation Chamber ANMC Alabama Subpart X, Miscellaneous unit
Thermal treatment closed disposal process (TTCDP) ANMC Alabama Subpart X, Miscellaneous unit
Plasma Ordnance Demilitarization System (PODS) incineratora HWAD Nevada Subpart O, Incinerator
Bulk Energetics Demilitarization System (BEDS) incineratora HWAD Nevada Subpart O, Incinerator
Hazardous waste incinerator (rotary kiln incinerator and combustion chamber; RF-9) HWAD Nevada Subpart O, Incinerator
Confined Detonation Chamber BGAD Kentucky Other Process (X99)
Molten salt destruction unita BGAD Kentucky Other Process (X99)
Flashing furnace system BGAD Kentucky Other Process (X99)
Wash-out building BGAD Kentucky Other Process (X99)
Industrial supercritical water oxidation (iSCWO) system a BGAD Kentucky Other Process (X99)

a Not currently constructed or not in use.

NOTE: ANMC, Anniston Munitions Center; BGAD; Blue Grass Army Depot; CAAA, Crane Army Ammunitions Activity; HWAD, Hawthorne Army Depot; LEMC, Letterkenny Munitions Center; MCAAP, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant; TEAD, Tooele Army Depot.

unit permits for the Army stockpile depots have relied on the best available OB/OD emission factor database, a compilation of numerous OB/OD emission tests within an enclosed chamber (i.e., the BangBox emission tests), which the EPA has validated for setting OB/OD permit restrictions (Mitchell and Suggs, 1998). Or, for example, for the Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) permit, the state required that the cumulative incremental cancer risk posed by the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility and ANAD’s OB, OD, and Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) units must be below 1 in 10–5 to protect human health.19

Some state permits impose environmental and operational limits for Army Subpart X units based on dispersion modeling. For example, the 2008 Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) permit20 cited modeling results from the Multimedia Environmental Pollutant Assessment System,21 which indicate that, based on several conservative and upper end exposure assumptions, the concentrations of constituents of concern released through groundwater leaching, overland runoff, surface water recharge, and atmospheric deposition from open detonation are expected to be lower than the health-based concentration limits.

RCRA permit applications for alternative technology units under Subpart X will also require information on the potential pathways of exposure of humans and the environment to hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents and on the potential magnitude and nature of such exposures.22

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19 ANAD Hazardous Waste Facility Permit, AL3 210 020 027, issued November 14, 2007, Module V.G. Air Monitoring (Mod 22). Similarly, risk estimates at the Utah Test and Training Range of 5 in 1 million, were “within the general risk acceptance limits,” and risks of 1 in 10,000 were considered acceptable. Submission to State of Utah, Attachment 10b: Thermal Treatment Unit Human Health Risk Assessment (2013), https://deq.utah.gov/businesses/U/utahtestrange/docs/2013/08Aug/Attachment_10B_Human_Health_Risk.pdf. Also see BAE Systems, Ordnance Systems, Inc., and Coterie Environmental, Multipathway Risk Assessment Protocol for the Radford Army Ammunition Plant Open Burning Grounds (October 2015), Open Burn/Open Denotation (OB/OD) operations at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR)-North at 10B-17 (October 2015), http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Land/Radford/OBG_Risk_Assessment_Protocol.pdf.

20 Hazardous Waste Permit, Tooele Army Depot, UT3213820894, Attachment 1—General Facility Description, May 2008.

21 The Multimedia Environmental Pollutant Assessment System is a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory suite of environmental models to assess environmental contamination problems, integrating transport and exposure pathways for chemical and radioactive releases to determine their potential impact on the surrounding environment, individuals and populations. See https://mepas.pnnl.gov/mepas/.

22 40 CFR 264.601.

Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

These assessments can be based on site-specific modeling, scientific investigation, and actual data from similar operating units with similar waste streams in lieu of performance testing. If the unit is considered a combustion unit (e.g., an incinerator), it must comply with the EPA Human Health Risk Assessment Protocol23 to develop and submit a human health and environmental risk assessments.

Permit Limitations

The RCRA permits for the seven Army stockpile sites contain specific limitations on demilitarization operations that may affect destruction flexibility and throughput. Permits for OB/OD units typically include limitations such as the type of munitions that can be treated, the total net explosive weight (NEW) treated, the hazard class,24 atmospheric conditions, time of day, and specific equipment or procedures to employ. Examples of types of munitions that often cannot be treated under existing OB/OD permits include chemical warfare agents, smokes, incendiaries, and radioactive materials (e.g., depleted uranium). In addition, a few permits specify that only certain munitions may be treated in the unit—for example, only rocket and missile motors can be treated in the Letterkenny Munitions Center Open Burn Unit 2. Almost all OB/OD permits limit the amount of NEW that can be treated at any one time. For example, the permit may limit operations to a maximum NEW per burn pan per day, a maximum NEW per burn event, a maximum NEW per detonation with a specific number of detonations per day, or a total NEW burned per day or per year.

Permits may designate that OB/OD operations can take place only during certain atmospheric conditions. For example, some permits limit when OB/OD operations may occur to daylight hours, when meteorological data show moderate wind speeds are between 3 and 20 miles per hour, when storms or precipitation events are not expected, when cloud cover is less than 80 percent and ceilings greater than 2,000 ft.,25 or when wind direction will not carry emissions over any publicly accessible area within 1 mile of the unit boundary.26

OB/OD permits may require that certain equipment be employed, including metal burn pans with covers, stands, or cages. Also, specific Army standard operating procedures (SOPs) designating how each OB or OD event is to be conducted may be incorporated into the permit, thus becoming enforceable requirements. Permits for OB/OD units often include certain environmental requirements, such as soil monitoring or runoff controls.

Permits for alternative technologies may have limitations on operations similar to those on OB/OD that can impact flexibility and throughput. For instance, the Ammonium Perchlorate Rocket Motor Destruction facility at the Letterkenny Munitions Center is limited to a maximum daily amount of propellant of 32,100 lb NEW, based on the largest motors to be treated. The maximum number of motor firings per day is dependent upon the size of the rocket or missile motors to be fired that day; however, the permit states that the number of firings per day shall not exceed 60.27 The permit for the deactivation furnace (the APE 1236) at TEAD imposes operating requirements and feed rate limits—for example, the total propellant, explosive, and pyrotechnics feed rate must be less than 229 lb per hour.28

In addition, the permits for alternative technologies will also typically limit the types of munitions that can be treated to only specific munitions or to only munitions that have been approved by the state based on hazardous waste characterization protocols. Some of these limitations are based on technology limitations, but some may be the result of (1) how the original RCRA application was worded or (2) availability of RCRA waste characterizations for a variety of munitions. The permits for incineration units usually impose monitoring requirements for emissions from the pollution abatement system equipment, munition feed rates, and other waste analysis data. None of the current permits for alternative technologies for the demilitarization of conventional munitions requires holding and testing of emissions before release. Unlike an OB/OD permit, the permits for alternative technology units generally do not have limitations based on atmospheric conditions. In addition, they do not typically require extensive monitoring of surrounding environmental media since the units typically are enclosed.

Public Involvement

Public involvement can have a significant impact on the permitting of any demilitarization technology by extending comment and hearing periods under RCRA and through the potential for legal challenges to permits. RCRA permitting regulations require public participation activities during the permitting process and during the life of the permit. Under the expanded public participation rules, the permit applicant must host an informal, public preapplication meeting before submitting the Part B RCRA permit application. As recommended by the EPA, public comments and suggestions are easier for the facility to address earlier rather than later in the process, so public input can have greater impact at this preapplication stage.29

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23 EPA, Final Human Health Risk Assessment Protocol for Hazardous Waste Combustion Facilities, EPA530-R-05-006, September 2005.

24 49 CFR 172.50.

25 TEAD Hazardous Waste Facility Permit, UT3213820894, attachment issued February 2, 2017.

26 ANAD Hazardous Waste Facility Permit, AL3 210 020 027, issued November 14, 2007.

27 Letterkenny Army Depot Hazardous Waste Permit modification, PA6213820503, dated December 8, 2014.

28 TEAD Hazardous Waste Facility Permit, UT3213820894, Module IV, Incineration, issued February 2, 2017.

29 EPA, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Public Participation Manual, January 11, 2017, 530-R-16-013.

Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

In addition, the regulator must create a representative facility mailing list of those to receive notifications during the permitting process.30 The permitting agency also may require the facility owner/operator to establish an information repository. The permitting agency also can share information with the public and hold workshops or other public meetings to provide fact sheets and other information to the community. During the complex permit decision process, open lines of communication to keep the public involved and informed may take additional effort.

Last, the permitting agency must notify the public of its decision, either the intent to deny the application or by issuing a draft permit, including a fact sheet and statement of basis. Once the decision is issued, there is at least a 45-day public comment period, and, if requested by the public or applicant or at the state regulatory agency’s discretion, a public hearing will be held with 30-day advance notice. The EPA recommends permitting agencies prepare a public participation plan for controversial facilities, possibly including hotlines, news releases, websites, and social media posts.31 The permitting agency must prepare a response to comments document to address all significant comments raised during the public comment period. Any modifications to a permit have similar public notice and participation requirements, depending on the class of the modification.32

Comments and written documents submitted to the committee by public interest groups and members of the public highlight a set of concerns about OB/OD and alternative demilitarization options that could be raised during the permitting, renewal, or modification process33 (see Chapter 9, Appendix B, and Appendix D.)

TREATMENT UNITS EXEMPT FROM RCRA PERMITTING REQUIREMENTS

As discussed by several presenters, including the EPA,34 some alternative technology units may not need an RCRA TSDF permit. For example, an alternative pyrolysis technology (Decineration; see Chapter 4) operates pursuant to an Indiana Department of Environmental Management letter of determination that no RCRA TSDF permit is required because the process would be considered materials recovery under the MMR,35 as long as Indiana’s standard for scrap metal contaminated with hazardous waste residue is met.36 Another example of exempt treatment technologies is the nonthermal treatment (e.g., neutralization) of wastes while the wastes are being accumulated in the waste generator’s tanks or containers.37

Obtaining a determination that an alternative technology meets the definition of an existing exempt process would reduce the time to construct or install alternative technology units at Army munition demilitarization facilities. However, obtaining a ruling or letter determination from a state environmental agency for a new process still could take time and substantial data submissions to ensure that the process or technology meets the definition of an exempt unit and any other environmental standards applicable under RCRA or other environmental programs (e.g., CAA). Exempt treatment processes, depending on the technologies used, will generally require other state permitting or regulatory oversight with site-specific operational restrictions (e.g., wastewater or storm water discharge permits, or water use permits).

TREATMENT, STORAGE, AND DISPOSAL FACILITY (TSDF) CLOSURE

All RCRA permitted units are required to plan for and complete closure at the end of their life cycle—that is, the last step in the use of the property is determining the extent of contamination and remediating any contamination to environmental standards. All TSDFs, including Subpart X units such as OB/OD units and alternative technologies, are required to submit a closure plan as part of their permit application.

The premise of clean closure is that all hazardous wastes have been removed and any releases at or from the unit have been remediated so that further regulatory control under RCRA is not determined to be necessary to protect human health and the environment. Clean closure may leave in place some contaminated environmental media if they are below concentrations levels that may pose a risk to human

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30 40 CFR 124.10.

31 EPA, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Public Participation Manual, January 11, 2017, 530-R-16-013.

32 40 CFR 270.42.

33 The committee received comments from the CeaseFire! Campaign, which is a national-level public interest group comprising a coalition of more than 60 local groups, and from several members of the public.

34 E-mail from Sasha Gerhard to the Committee. Subject: EPA follow-up items for NASEM CMD committee, sent November 22, 2017.

35 Under the MMR, unused munitions that are repaired, reused, recycled, reclaimed, disassembled, reconfigured, or otherwise subjected to materials recovery activities are not solid waste and would not require a RCRA TSDF permit. 40 CFR 266.202(a)(2).

36 Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Letter Re: U.S. Demil, LLC, Military Munitions Project, Crane Surface Warfare Center, IN5170023498, June 14, 2016.

37 51 Federal Register 10146, 10168, March 24, 1986. EPA ruled that hazardous waste generators could treat hazardous wastes on-site in accumulation tanks or containers without an RCRA permit if the treatment were in conformance with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 262.34 (accumulation time) and with Subparts I and J of 40 CFR 265 (standards for containers and tank system, including that the tanks or containers in which the treatment occurs remain closed except when adding or removing waste, the process must not violate the dilution prohibition standards of 40 CFR 268.3 and must meet any applicable land disposal restrictions (40 CFR 268.7(a)(4)).

Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

health and the environment.38 For Subpart X miscellaneous units, clean closure requires that environmental performance standards found in the regulations be met,39 including prevention of any releases that may have adverse effects on human health or the environment due to migration of waste constituents into the groundwater or subsurface environment. This is determined either through risk assessment or by using available constituent-specific limits or factors that have undergone regulatory review (e.g., maximum contaminant levels for water or a verified reference dose). Closure provides that interim measures be implemented to ensure that protection of human health and environment is maintained during the implementation of the clean closure.40 Typically, clean closure costs should be included in the LCC cost analysis of the treatment unit (see Chapter 9).

CHANGING REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT

The Government Accountability Office found that regulator’s environmental concerns with OB/OD may force the Department of Defense (DoD) to use alternative methods of disposal in the future (GAO, 2000). The EPA staff presentation to the committee included a recently initiated project to identify alternatives to OB/OD.41 This project apparently will assess technologies and streamlining procedures and permitting, which will document the existence of alternative technologies and provide information on feasibility, cost, and cost-effectiveness of these alternatives.42 The EPA provided a draft Alternate Technology Matrix and Compilation Report to the committee, which the committee considered in its independent evaluation of alternative technologies.43 At least one state representative (from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management) also expressed to the committee an unwritten preference to consider more alternative technologies to replace OB/OD. However, two authorized state environmental agencies with jurisdiction over Army stockpile OB/OD facilities stated to the committee that there is no current state regulation or official policy that promotes the use of alternative technologies in lieu of OB/OD.44

At least one state, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, has required the Army to maintain a certification that treatment of waste munitions by OB/OD is the only practicable method or combination of methods currently available to minimize the present and future threat to human health or the environment and that TEAD has a program in place to investigate available alternative technologies, other than OB and OD, to reduce the volume and toxicity of released treatment residues and discharges to the environment.45 In filings with the state of Utah, the Army indicated that the reasons for continued use of OB/OD are cost; the lack of organic, omnivorous on-site facilities; and the need to disassemble munitions to meet the technical requirements for alternative technologies, resulting in increased personnel handling.46

Another state, New Mexico, has denied the Department of Energy (DOE) an RCRA TSDF permit for a non-Army OB/OD treatment unit at the Los Alamos National Laboratory because (according to the state’s final decision) continued OB of high-explosive hazardous waste would result in an ecological risk, 1,400 individuals had expressed opposition to continued OB in comments submitted during the public comment period, the New Mexico Environmental Department did not believe that the applicants adequately assessed alternatives to OB that would be more protective of human health and the environment, and there were preferable and viable alternatives to OB of high-explosive waste at the laboratory (NMED, 2010).

While regulators’ perceptions of OB/OD and alternative technologies appear to be evolving, there are no federal written policies or RCRA regulations stating such a preference. It is also important to note that all existing Army stockpile depot OB/OD TSDFs are permitted by, or hold RCRA interim status from, an authorized state and were found by the regulatory authority to be protective of the human health and the environment. This evolving regulatory environment may have a significant impact on whether the stockpile sites continue to utilize OB/OD or on the ease with which an alternative technology can be permitted under RCRA.

Finding 6-1. There is no formal EPA guidance for permit applicants or authorized state agencies to determine the

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38 The EPA has stated that in order to demonstrate clean closure, the owner and operator must show that levels of hazardous contaminants do not exceed EPA-recommended exposure levels, or clean closure levels. EPA has not specified contaminant levels for clean closure. “How clean is clean” is a site-specific decision made by the EPA region or authorized state. Limited amounts of hazardous constituents may remain in media after clean closure, provided they are present at concentrations below which they may pose a risk to human health and the environment. The implementing agency can identify clean closure based on established, protective, risk-based levels (e.g., maximum contaminant levels under the Safe Drinking Water Act), or site-specific risk-based levels (EPA, 2005).

39 40 CFR 264, Subpart G

40 40 CFR 264, Subpart G.

41 K. Shuster, presentation to committee, “Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions,” dated August 22, 2017 and follow-up data request responses via e-mail dated November 22, 2017.

42 Ibid.

43 EPA Draft Alternative Technologies to the Open Burn and Open Detonation of Energetic Hazardous Wastes, dated October 19, 2017; Draft Alternative Technologies to the Open Burn and Open Detonation of Energetic Hazardous Wastes Workbook/Matrix, received October 19, 2017; EPA Draft Alternative Tech Not Going Forward, received November 17, 2017.

44 L. Houseal, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, “Pennsylvania Regulatory Perspectives,” presentation to the committee, December 11, 2017. S. Cobb, chief, Land Division, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, “Alabama Regulatory Perspectives,” presentation to the committee, December 11, 2017.

45 TEAD Hazardous Waste Facility Permit, UT3213820894, Condition II.M.2, issued September 30, 2005. Also, see letter certifications filed with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality dated January 14, 2014, January 7, 2016, and January 10, 2017, respectively.

46 TEAD RCRA Part B Permit Application, Attachment 21, OB/OD Treatment Effectiveness, Alternative Technologies and Waste Minimization, July 16, 2015.

Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

requirements for applications or permit conditions (e.g., risk goals, treatment efficiencies, or waste and operational limitations) for alternative technology units that would be permitted as Subpart X units.

Finding 6-2. Provisions contained in permits for existing alternative technologies at Army demilitarization depots may limit the types of waste munitions that can be treated or the throughput of the units. Some of these limitations are based on the technology or regulatory limitations, but some may be the result of (1) how the original RCRA application was worded or (2) availability of RCRA waste characterizations for a variety of munitions.

Finding 6-3. Public interest group representatives express the need to consider community preferences and site-specific conditions when selecting an alternative technology to implement, install, and permit at any of the seven demilitarization depots.

Recommendation 6-1. The Army should investigate whether permits for existing alternative technology units at Army munition demilitarization depots can be amended to be more flexible regarding the types, frequency, and amounts of munitions that can be treated.

Recommendation 6-2. The Army should identify issues that could affect the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permitting process for alternative technologies, including public concerns, and work with regulators in the states with jurisdiction over the seven demilitarization depots to establish requirements for Subpart X applications (e.g., developing scientific and technical analysis documents, emission modeling and estimates, and efficiency documentation for similar units) so as to address issues and questions before they become a problem that could significantly delay permitting alternative technologies.

REFERENCES

EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2002. Draft RCRA Miscellaneous Treatment Units, Encyclopedia X Technical Resource Document. EPA Region IV, RCRA Programs Branch. https://trainex.org/web_courses/subpart_x/Encyclopedia%20X%20pdf%20files/Draft_Encyclopedia%20X.pdf.

EPA. 2002. Draft RCRA Miscellaneous Treatment Units, Encyclopedia X Technical Resource Document. EPA Region IV, RCRA Programs Branch. https://trainex.org/web_courses/subpart_x/Encyclopedia%20X%20pdf%20files/Draft_Encyclopedia%20X.pdf.

EPA. 2005. EPA530-K-05-009. RCRA Training Module, Introduction to Closure/Post-Closure. https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/P1008WG8.PDF?Dockey=P1008WG8.PDF.

GAO (Government Accountability Office). 2000. Precautionary Assumptions in Health Risk Assessments and Benefits Estimates at 12-13. http://www.gao.gov/assets/230/229762.pdf.

Mitchell, W.J., and J.C. Suggs. 1998. Emission Factors for the Disposal of Energetic Materials by Open Burning and Open Detonation. U.S. EPA, Research Triangle Park, N.C.

NMED (New Mexico Environment Department). 2010. State of New Mexico before the Secretary of the Environment, In the Matters of the Application of the United States Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security, LLC for a Hazardous Waste Facility Permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Notice of Intent to Deny a Permit for Open Burn Units TA-16-399 and TA-16-388 for Los Alamos National Laboratory, No. HWB 09-37(P)/HWB 10-04(P), Hearing Officer’s Report, Santa Fe, N. Mex.

Tetra Tech. 2002. EPA Region III, Draft Final Open Burning/Open Detonation Permitting Guidelines. https://trainex.org/web_courses/subpart_x/TopicSearch%20pdf%20files/Region%203%20OBOD/PDF%206988Text%20final.pdf.

Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 73
Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 74
Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 75
Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 76
Suggested Citation:"6 Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Open Burning, Open Detonation, and Alternative Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
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Page 77
Next: 7 Applicability of Treatment Types to Munitions and Energetic Types »
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The U.S. military has a stockpile of approximately 400,000 tons of excess, obsolete, or unserviceable munitions. About 60,000 tons are added to the stockpile each year. Munitions include projectiles, bombs, rockets, landmines, and missiles. Open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) of these munitions has been a common disposal practice for decades, although it has decreased significantly since 2011.

OB/OD is relatively quick, procedurally straightforward, and inexpensive. However, the downside of OB and OD is that they release contaminants from the operation directly into the environment. Over time, a number of technology alternatives to OB/OD have become available and more are in research and development. Alternative technologies generally involve some type of contained destruction of the energetic materials, including contained burning or contained detonation as well as contained methods that forego combustion or detonation.

Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions reviews the current conventional munitions demilitarization stockpile and analyzes existing and emerging disposal, treatment, and reuse technologies. This report identifies and evaluates any barriers to full-scale deployment of alternatives to OB/OD or non-closed loop incineration/combustion, and provides recommendations to overcome such barriers.

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