4 The record articles

Your Recipe For a Good Non-Hazardous Secondary Waste Determination

Posted: May 21st, 2012

Author: All4 Staff 

In our last blog we talked about the need to be careful about the “ingredients” that make up the recipe of your alternate fuel so that you can be assured that you are firing a non-waste per the non hazardous secondary materials (NHSM) rule.  How well you track your ingredients is part of a NHSM determination demonstration that includes the legitimacy criteria which are specified under 40 CFR Part 241.3(d)(1).  Remember, the NHSM determination demonstration is an internal document, but you need to be able to stand behind it should a State or Federal regulatory agency ask to examine it.  Earlier this month we promised to give you insight into what a NHSM determination demonstration should look like, so here are our thoughts.

The first component of your NHSM determination demonstration involves confirming that your alternate fuel is “sufficiently processed.”  Then you must show that the alternate fuel or the components to the alternate fuel are managed as a valuable commodity.  Next, your alternate fuel must have a meaningful heat value (nominally more than 5,000 British Thermal Units – BTU per pound).  Finally, you must demonstrate that the contaminant level of the NHSM fuel is comparable to traditional fuels that you are using or could use.  Let’s look at each of these four criteria and consider how you could address them.

Step 1 – Clean and Prep Your Ingredients

There are several possible processing operations that you can cite in your NHSM demonstration to meet the definition of processing contained at 40 CFR Part 241.2.  The common processing operations are those that remove contaminants, improve the physical fuel characteristics, and increase the energy potential of the NHSM fuel.  For many NHSM fuels, a simple description of each step in the material processing phase should suffice in your NHSM determination demonstration.  However, if you believe that your NHSM processing would be difficult to qualify under these criteria (i.e., you are only performing shredding), consider preparing a design specification for your NHSM fuel or have your fuel vendor develop the design specification.  By establishing a design specification, it means that there are various actions that are occurring to meet the specifications and also that documentation takes place to demonstrate that the NHSM is meeting the specifications.   Components to the design specification could include requiring a specific heat content (e.g., Btu/lb), requesting that the NHSM be clean and dry, establishing a particular sizing for the NHSM, requesting that the NHSM be delivered in a certain fashion (e.g., labeled properly in dedicated storage containers), and applying additives to enhance the NHSM (e.g. spraying a surfactant on the material to minimize dusting).  Adding these simple operations to a basic shredding process and then documenting that the operations achieve the fuel design specification will assist you to meet the definition of processing as defined at 40 CFR Part 241.2.

Step 2 – Mix Well

Once your documentation for processing the NHSM is established, then you must show that your NHSM is being managed as a valuable commodity.  There are two primary considerations related to managing the material.  First, you should demonstrate that your NHSM fuel is being managed using the same care as any of your traditional fuels.  For example, the NHSM fuel is being stored properly and the product is not being wasted or mishandled.  Second, the specifics of your NHSM management should be clearly outlined to show that purchasing price and delivery options of the NHSM are consistent with other conventional fuels that you use.

Step 3 – Pre-Heat

The heat content of you NHSM and its planned usage rate also need to be documented as part of the NHSM determination demonstration.  Although the heat content of your NHSM may be part of the design specification, it may be worthwhile to confirm, via testing, the specification on an annual basis or more often if you have reasons to believe that the heat content could vary.  By showing how much traditional fuel you intend to replace with your NHSM fuel, you may be able to demonstrate potential emission reductions on a short-term (1-hour to 24-hour) and annual basis.

Step 4 – Process the Mixture Carefully

The contaminant level analysis is the final component to the NHSM determination demonstration.  In this step, a comparison must be provided that shows how the contaminant levels in the NHSM compare to contaminant levels of traditional fuels that your combustion unit is designed to burn.  As of early May 2012, the contaminants that are considered should include the Clean Air Act Section 112(b) hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), the nine CAA Section 129(a)(4) contaminants, and any contaminants that could create products of incomplete combustion (PICs).  Note that the December 2, 2011 revisions to the NHSM rule modify the definition of contaminants by naming 15 key contaminants and eliminating 17 contaminants that are also listed in Sections 112(b) and 129(a)(4).  These December 2011 proposed revisions could apply beginning in June 2012.

The contaminant comparison should show that the NHSM contaminant levels are “comparable” to the contaminant levels in the traditional fuels that could be used in the combustion unit.  Ideally, all of the NHSM contaminant levels would be less than the levels for traditional fuels.  In instances where a few NHSM contaminants are greater than the levels in traditional fuels, U.S. EPA has suggested two scenarios for addressing the situation in a positive fashion.  First, if the NHSM contaminant level is within a “small acceptable range” of the traditional fuel (in a U.S. EPA example the range is 5%) then the two contaminant levels are comparable.  Also, the statistical means or even median values of the contaminant levels can be considered in the comparison.   The second scenario involving a higher NHSM contaminant level can be addressed by discussing the process by which the contaminant becomes an adverse emission.  For instance, even though one contaminant in the NHSM is present at a higher level than in the traditional fuel, the combustion process, the burner equipment, and the nature of the contaminant could effectively make the actual emissions of the contaminant inconsequential.  Finally, an alternate possibility for addressing a slightly higher NHSM contaminant level could be to equate a concentration level to a mass per heat level.  For example, if a NHSM contaminant level is slightly higher than the traditional fuel level but the NHSM has a higher heating value than the traditional fuel, a scenario could exist where the amount of contaminant released by the NHSM would be less than the traditional fuel simply because less NHSM is required to provide the same amount of heat input as the traditional fuel.

In our next blog we will offer some cautions regarding your NHSM determination demonstration.  In the interim, there are several resources that you can contact here at ALL4 to help you with aspects of the NHSM rule or aspects of the Boiler MACT and CISWI rules, including Ron Harding or Dan Holland.


    Sign up to receive 4 THE RECORD articles here. You'll get timely articles on current environmental, health, and safety regulatory topics as well as updates on webinars and training events.
    First Name: *
    Last Name: *
    Location: *
    Email: *

    Skip to content