The first component of the LDR program, the disposal prohibition, prohibits the land disposal of hazardous waste that has not been adequately treated to reduce the threat posed by such waste. The criteria that hazardous wastes must meet before being disposed of are known as treatment standards. These treatment standards can be either
1. Concentration levels for hazardous constituents that the waste must meet or
2. Treatment technologies that must be performed on the waste before it can be disposed of.
U.S. EPA bases the LDR treatment standards on the performance of available technologies. It conducts extensive research into available treatment technologies to determine which proven, available technology is the best at treating the waste in question. The technology that best minimizes the mobility or toxicity (or both) of the hazardous constituents is designated as the best demonstrated available technology (BDAT) for that waste. The treatment standards are based on the performance of this BDAT.
When treatment standards are set as concentration levels, the regulated community may use any method or technology (except dilution, as discussed later in this chapter) to meet that concentration level. The concentration level is based on the performance of the BDAT, but the regulated community does not need to use this technology to meet the treatment standard. U.S. EPA prefers to use concentration-based standards because they stimulate innovation and the development of alternative treatment technologies. However, when U.S. EPA feels that the waste will only be effectively treated by the BDAT or when there is no way to measure hazardous constituent levels, U.S. EPA will designate the BDAT as the treatment standard. This means that the regulated community must treat the waste with that specific technology in order to meet the treatment standard.
The treatment standards are found in the regulations in a table arranged by hazardous waste codes.10 The treatment standards that require the use of a specific technology are expressed as a five-letter code representing the technology. There are 30 such codes representing specific technology-based standards. A selection from these codes and the technologies that they require are found in Table 12.3.
Both listed and characteristic hazardous wastes must meet the LDR treatment standards before they are eligible for land disposal. There are, however, some unique situations that arise when dealing with characteristic wastes under the LDR program.
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