EPA Proposes Additional Extraction and Determinative Methods to Characterize and Verify PCB Cleanups

In the October 22, 2021 Federal Register, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed alternative options for extraction and determinative methods used to characterize and verify the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) waste. EPA expects these changes to reduce the amount of solvent used in PCB extraction processes and lead to quicker, more efficient, and less costly cleanups. Other changes include the amendment of performance-based disposal option for PCB remediation waste; the removal of the provision allowing PCB bulk product waste to be disposed as roadbed material; the addition of more flexible provisions for cleanup and disposal of waste generated by spills that occur during emergency situations; harmonizing the general disposal requirements for PCB remediation waste; and other clarifications and corrections. Public comments will be accepted through December 21, 2021.

EPA proposed adding the following extraction methods from SW-846, Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste for use on solid matrices: Method 3541 (Automated Soxhlet Extraction), Method 3545A (Pressurized Fluid Extraction), and Method 3546 (Microwave Extraction). EPA is also proposing to add the following aqueous extraction methods to the PCB regulations: Method 3510C (Separatory Funnel Liquid-Liquid Extraction), Method 3520C (Continuous Liquid-Liquid Extraction), and Method 3535A (Solid-Phase Extraction). EPA also proposed removing SW-846 Method 3550B (Ultrasonic extraction).

There are three proposed determinative methods: SW-846 Method 8082A ((Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) By Gas Chromatography); 8275A (Semivolatile Organic Compounds (PAHs And PCBs) In Soils/Sludges And Solid Wastes Using Thermal Extraction/Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (TE/GC/MS)); and Clean Water Act (CWA) Method 1668C (Chlorinated Biphenyl Congeners in Water, Soil, Sediment, Biosolids, and Tissue by HRGC/HRMS).

EPA proposed amending the current performance-based disposal option for PCB remediation waste to include provisions for performance-based cleanup. EPA also proposed adding RCRA Subtitle C permitted landfills to the list of allowable performance-based disposal options for non-liquid PCB remediation waste.

Under the proposed rule, PCB bulk product waste would no longer be permitted to be disposed of under asphalt as part of a roadbed.

Two new provisions would allow for more flexible requirements for the cleanup of spills caused by and managed in emergency situations, such as hurricanes or floods. Individuals would also be permitted to request a waiver from specific requirements during an emergency situation.

EPA proposed amending § 761.50(b)(3)(ii) to remove a phrase that was accidentally added in 1998 that some could interpret as stating that waste with <50 ppm PCBs that met the definition of PCB remediation waste was not regulated for disposal.