The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a major revision of its hazardous waste regulations and said the new rules would prevent such environmental disasters as the contamination of Times Beach, Mo., with deadly dioxin compounds.
The two-part package extends EPA regulations of hazardous wastes to cover many materials and processes and defines all dioxins as hazardous wastes.
Another revision brings those who sell used oil as a heating fuel under regulation for the first time.
At present, only the dioxin compound known as 2,3,7,8-TCDD, the most powerful carcinogen among the 75 dioxin compunds, is regulated.
The new regulations, effective in six months, will bring all 75 compounds and 135 related compounds called furans under the EPA's regulatory scheme.
Mike Cook, deputy director of the Office of Solid Waste, said the regulations, if followed, would mean "we would not have the kinds of results we're seeing in Missouri and the Niagara frontier."
He referred to the spreading of dioxins throughout Times Beach from waste oil on dirt roads and the dumping of chemical waste at Love Canal in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Times Beach and the Love Canal neighborhood had to be abandoned by residents.
The agency proposed the regulations first in 1980 and again in April 1983.
Asked why the final version took so long, John H. Skinner, director of the Office of Hazardous Waste, said the package was "probably the most complicated set of regulations in the entire federal government" because it tries to define what is a waste to be regulated and what is a raw material that escapes regulation.
As examples, EPA said fly ash used to make cement will not come under regulation, nor will hydrofluosilicic acid in air emission control dust used as a fluoridating agent in drinking water.
But anything used to produce energy or make a fuel, such as spent solvents, now will be subject to regulation, as will anything used in a way that constitutes ultimate disposal, such as wastewater treatment sludges spread on the land as fertilizer.
EPA said some 2,600 companies will face new or additional regulation, including businesses or recyclers in these industries: lumber, furniture, wood products, printing and publishing, metal products, chemicals, communications and transportation.
At the same time, the EPA said it was cutting back on regulations in some areas.
For example, lead-acid batteries shipped back to a battery manufacturer for recycling no longer will be regulated.
About 400 firms should find their regulations reduced or eliminated, including companies in oil and gas extraction, paper and paper products, chemicals, primary metals, electric and gas utilities and sanitary services.
When all the changes are combined, the net cost to American business will be about $2 million a year, officials said.