US Emissions Rules Tighten for Medical Waste Incinerators

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new limits on air emissions will
affect most existing hospital, medical, and infectious waste incinerators
(HMIWI). This final action will reduce about 390,000 pounds of several
pollutants each year including acid gases, nitrogen oxides, and metals such as
lead, cadmium, and mercury.

The agency also is finalizing additional testing, monitoring, and inspection
requirements. EPA recalculated the maximum achievable control technology (MACT)
floors for existing and new HMIWI and developed new emission limits. The MACT
floor level of control is the minimum level of stringency that can be
considered in establishing standards under Section 129 of the Clean Air Act.

The final emission limits will require improvements in performance for 50 of
the 57 currently operating HMIWI. EPA estimates that the total nationwide cost
for the 57 currently operating HMIWI to comply with the final rule revisions
will be approximately $15.5 million per year. The agency also estimates that
the cost of an available disposal alternative would be about $10.6 million, or
roughly two-thirds of the estimated compliance costs.

The final amendments to the HMIWI regulations include:

  • Strengthened existing emission limits for all regulated pollutants,

  • Additional stack testing requirements for existing and new sources,

  • Additional monitoring requirements for new sources,

  • Annual inspections of emission control devices,

  • One-time visible emissions test of ash handling operations,

  • Procedures for test data submittal, and

  • Revised waste management plan provisions.

There were approximately 2,400 HMIWI operating in the United States at the time
EPA adopted the 1997 NSPS and emission guidelines. The NSPS and emission
guidelines require new and existing HMIWI to control emissions of hydrogen
chloride, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium, mercury, particulate matter,
dioxins/furans, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide to levels that reflect the
degree of emission reduction based on MACT.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Environmental protection