MassDEP Begins to Roll Out Its Regulatory Reforms: Good News on the Solid Waste Front

As I’ve previously discussed, MassDEP has been embarked on an effort – prompted by shrinking budgetary resources – to promulgate a package of regulatory reforms.  While the package was announced in March 2012 and updated last October, we only saw the first set of actual proposed regulations last week, when MassDEP announced changes to both its asbestos regulations and its solid waste regulations.  This post will focus on the solid waste package.

On initial review, it’s a good package.  It’s not a panacea, but was never intended as such, and it certainly contains a number of changes that will make life easier for those in the regulated community and save MassDEP resources, without compromising environmental protection.  Highlights include:

  • Simplifying rules for transfer stations, including elimination of operating permits for all transfer stations other than those accepting construction and demolition waste
  • Presumptive approvals of some post-closure uses of landfills (post-closure uses located on the landfill itself would still be subject to the current post-closure use permitting process)
  • Elimination of the current approval process for receipt of Special Wastes.  Instead, DEP would combine performance standards for handling Special Wastes with presumptive approvals.
  • Revisions to provisions regarding third party inspections of solid waste facilities, in order to standardize the conduct of such inspections and ensure that inspectors are qualified.

MassDEP will accept comments through February 8, 2013.  While comments may of course be made on any issue in the draft, MassDEP’s Background information and Technical Support Document identifies some particular issues on which it is seeking comment.  One issue clearly still up for grabs is whether there should be a size threshold for the move to a certification process for transfer stations.  The regulatory reform package proposed only making the switch for transfer stations accepting less than 100 tpd.  While the current proposal applies to all transfer stations other than those accept C&D waste, no final decision has been made.

Here’s hoping that the other regulatory packages to implement the regulatory reform proposals follow close on the heels of this one.

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