Revisions to state solid waste regulations address illegal disposal and increase oversight of mulch facilities to protect groundwater and reduce contamination
DEC accepting public comments through July 15, 2016
Governor Cuomo today announced proposed revisions to the state’s solid waste regulations to increase protections for public health, safety, natural resources and the environment. The proposed changes include measures to regulate previously unregulated facilities, activities, and waste streams within the state’s existing solid waste management program. The proposed revisions also streamline and reduce regulatory burdens for entities while maintaining environmental protections.
"Ensuring safe water supplies is critically important,” said Governor Cuomo. “These new regulations will help reduce contamination threats while safeguarding natural resources so that we can ensure a healthier and safer environment for communities all across this state.”
The revisions proposed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation include measures to improve the state’s regulations over facilities that handle solid waste, including facilities that manage recyclable materials, waste transfer stations, landfills and biohazard waste facilities, among others. In addition, previously unregulated facilities, including mulch processing facilities will now be regulated. The regulations will also increase oversight of construction and demolition debris and historic fill, reducing the potential threat of these waste streams to water quality and the environment on Long Island and throughout the state.
"The proposed changes address emerging threats posed by illegal dumping and large mulch facilities, while also easing regulatory burdens," said Basil Seggos, Acting DEC Commissioner. "These common-sense revisions build on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to increase protection of groundwater resources by improving management of this important program, while also encouraging increased food scrap recycling, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from landfills and streamlining the Environmental Protection Fund grant program that provides funding for recycling and education initiatives.”
These proposed revisions are also necessary to increase program efficiency and for the State to continue its leadership of solid waste management and waste reduction strategies. Highlights of the proposed regulations include:
New Regulations for Mulch Processing Facilities
The mulch industry is vital to the local economy and environment in communities across the state, but it is currently exempt from state regulation. Runoff from these facilities can endanger local water supplies. Under the direction of Governor Cuomo, the proposed regulations will provide enhanced safeguards and increase oversight of mulch and compost facilities by requiring facilities to establish water runoff management plans to protect groundwater and placing restrictions on pile size and storage to reduce the risk of fires, odor and dust.
Improved Construction & Demolition Debris Management
Throughout the state, lack of proper disposal of construction and demolition debris has resulted in many illegal landfills and disposal sites, leading to significant contamination and other threats. To enhance DEC’s oversight and enforcement of this waste to ensure it is properly disposed, the regulations propose to require companies to track the removal of C&D debris and historic fill for the first time ever. In addition, facilities that receive 250 tons/day or greater of concrete, asphalt, rock, brick and soil would be required to obtain a DEC permit. Lower volume processing facilities would be required to register with the state. The proposed regulations also identify acceptable uses for various C&D debris streams, and include a new provision for requiring mixed C&D debris processing facilities. In total, this proposal would drastically reduce improper disposal of this debris, and reduce threats to groundwater contamination and other environmental degradation.
Installing Fixed Radiation Detectors
To prevent the disposal of radioactive waste, DEC proposes to require fixed radiation detectors at facilities that handle municipal solid waste including landfills, combustion facilities, municipal composting facilities, processing facilities and transfer facilities that send waste out-of-state. Additionally, the regulations propose new operating requirements including daily background radiation readings, weekly field checks, annual detector calibration, staff training, and increased documentation to ensure that no radioactive materials are being disposed of illegally.
Developing Beneficial Use Determinations for Oil and Gas Brine
To provide clarification on the appropriate use of brine, or highly concentrated salt water from oil and gas extraction, the regulations propose specific application criteria and the maximum pollutant limits for road application. While not allowed in New York now, the proposed regulations specifically prohibit the use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing brine from use in New York State.
In addition, the proposed regulations will update the regulations governing the transport of waste, local solid waste planning and state grants to provide better clarity to municipalities, regulated facilities and companies, and ensure the quick dispersal of funding to promote recycling and waste reduction.
Copies of the proposed rule can be found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html. DEC has established an extensive public comment period to solicit feedback from residents and impacted facilities, and will accepted comments through July 15, 2016. Comments can be sent to
SolidWasteRegulations@dec.ny.gov or by mail to:
Melissa Treers, P.E.,
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Materials Management
Albany, NY 12233-7260
Public hearings will be held in Hauppauge on June 2, in Albany on June 6, and in Rochester on June 7. Additional public information meetings and targeted stakeholder workshops will also be held across the state.
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