Why is fly ash not considered a hazardous waste material?

With fly ash being such a dangerous pollutant to ground water and such, why has the EPA not classified this a hazardous material.

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  • Homer
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Whether or not fly ash fails a characteristic test for being hazardous has absolutely nothing to do with it - it simply is not federally regulated as a hazardous waste (period). Some sources I've seen indicate leachable metals which would otherwise render it hazardous (due to TCLP) - but those results would vary depending on the constituent content of the coal being burned.

    Here's the rub - fly ash (Coal ash) is among the wastes specifically exemp from regulation as a hazardous waste due to an exemption provided by Bevill Amendments to the Solid Waste Disposal Act - (around 1980, i think).

    Again, doesn't matter if the fly ash passes TCLP or not, or whether it leaches all sorts of hazardous constituents - it has a congressionally issued "get out of jail free card" attached to it, so to speak.

  • 1 decade ago

    There are pollutants, hazardous materials, and hazardous waste. To be a hazardous waste it must meet a list of requirements - fly ash doesn't. To be a hazardous material, there is a different set of rules - asbestos is the best known in this category, but not fly ash. Fly ash if released to open water is a pollutant and is highly regulated as such. The problem is that with fly ash, like pig manure, when there is a release, it is usually a big one, many thousands of gallons. That is the problem, the storage before the release. If pig manure, which is just like human for the most part, was treated like human, it would not be a problem. Same with fly ash. They allow it to be stored. But now, lots of fly ash is used in other products now like concrete and similar items.

  • David
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Because it is not a characteristic hazardous waste. To be a hazardous waste it has to leach a certain amount of one or more specific chemicals during what's known as the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP).

    Most fly ash, while it has high levels of arsenic and some other metals, still does not leach enough during TCLP to exceed the EPA regulations that would require it to be considered a hazardous waste.

    It could be a listed hazardous waste if they decided to include it, but I don't see why they should. Substances that generally pass TCLP should not be listed IMO.

    Source(s): This site seems good: http://www.ehso.com/cssepa/TCLP.htm
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