Ohio EPA Updates Closure Plan Review Guidance

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Ohio EPA Updates Closure Plan Review Guidance

By: Nick Petruzzi, PE, CPG

Units that manage hazardous waste are subject to various requirements at such time that those units “close” (i.e., are no longer used to manage hazardous waste). For facilities with a RCRA Hazardous Waste Installation and Operation Permit, the permitted units are subject to RCRA Closure. Similarly, hazardous waste units at Interim Status facilities or those “illegal” units identified in Director’s Final Findings and Orders are also subject to RCRA Closure. The intent of the program is to ensure specific activities are performed in a manner that ultimately meet qualitative performance standards to ensure ongoing protection of human health and the environment. A Closure Plan is a document that presents, in great detail, the activities and evaluation criteria that are necessary to meet the performance standards. Both state and federal regulations are typically brief and often vague as to the type of information to include in a Closure Plan. Therefore, some states, including Ohio, have developed guidance on preparing and implementing a Closure Plan. Although generators are not required to prepare a Closure Plan, they often refer to the Closure Plan guidance for assistance on proper implementation.

Ohio EPA’s Closure Plan Review Guidance (CPRG) document was originally issued in 1991. Since that time it has been updated on multiple occasions. The most recent update was in 2017, which was well over due since the previous update was in 2009. The CPRG is a lengthy and comprehensive document intended to assist agency staff in evaluating Closure Plans. However, the regulated community also relies on the CPRG when preparing Closure Plans for agency review. Ohio EPA did not release a redline strikeout version with the 2017 update of the CPRG. Therefore, Cox-Colvin performed a detailed review to identify noteworthy changes that occurred between the 2009 and 2017 versions. A brief summary of changes are provided below. For a complete understanding of the content of the CPRG, the reader should refer to the 2017 CPRG.

  • The discussion related to the Clean Ohio Fund for brownfields has been removed;
  • Acknowledgment that AutoCAD drawings or GIS can be used to provide unit detail;
  • Request that groundwater monitoring results be provided in excel format to facilitate agency review
  • Language added to acknowledge the use of an “area of contamination” to potentially avoid triggering other hazardous waste regulations;
  • Expanded language on a contained-in determination related to environmental media contaminated with listed waste;
  • Language added to reflect soil sampling (when necessary) should account for not only unit-specific constituents but also historical constituents for waste disposal and risk assessment purposes; it was acknowledged that only unit-specific constituents can be considered when identifying the unit boundary and associated extent of contamination;
  • Acknowledgement that incremental sampling methodology can be used to characterize the unit but supporting rationale must be provided;
  • New section related to vapor intrusion (VI) assessment; a VI assessment must be performed to account for current and future use, as appropriate, in order to fulfill performance standards; VI was previously a brief mention that was buried within a risk assessment section
  • Alternate metal standards (AMSs) retained for use as background screening values; added references to other background data sets and a weight-of-evidence approach for constituents detected that are not associated with the closure unit
  • Generic closure numbers (GCNs) replaced by EPA Regional Screening Limits (RSLs) for use to screen out constituents, to use as very conservative cleanup standards, or to determine no further action; site-specific risk assessments may still be utilized
  • Various default risk assessment exposure parameters and risk equations have been removed and replaced with references to other sources
  • Extensive updates to document references and citations

Like many other guidance documents, Ohio EPA sometimes tries to rely on the CPRG as if it were regulation. Additionally, RCRA Closure has the potential to be an extremely costly endeavor. Therefore, when negotiating a closure strategy with Ohio EPA and preparing a Closure Plan, it is critical to thoroughly understand RCRA Closure regulations, the content of the CPRG, and the spectrum of options available to a closure approach (e.g., clean closure vs. landfill closure, treatment options, decontamination methods, waste delisting, etc.). Look for a future revision to the CPRG upon Ohio EPA adoption of the Generator Improvement Rule. Cox-Colvin routinely assists in the negotiation, preparation, and implementation of permitted, interim status, order-related, and generator closures.  Contact us if you need help with closure or would like to discuss closure strategies.

Published in Cox-Colvin’s October 2018 Focus on the Environment newsletter.

Nick M. Petruzzi, PE, CPG is a Principal Engineer at Cox Colvin & Associates, Inc. Mr. Petruzzi holds degrees in both geology and environmental engineering. He has been involved with numerous projects that have required the evaluation, design, construction, and operation of both established and innovative remedial alternatives for the treatment and disposal of contaminated soil and groundwater at industrial facilities. He also provides management and technical services on projects that deal with hydrogeologic investigation as well as hazardous waste, NPDES, and air permits. Mr. Petruzzi was a contributing author and instructor for the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) Green and Sustainable Remediation (GSR) team, is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, and is a Certified Professional Geologist.