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Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule Update

NHSM Rule Update

On February 8, 2016, USEPA published an amendment to their Non-hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule, adding three new categorical non-waste fuels.  These materials may be combusted in boilers without subjecting the boiler to the stringent waste incinerator rules.  The new categories are 1) combustion and demolition wood, 2) paper recycling residuals, and 3) creosote-treated railroad ties.  Each of these fuels has specific qualifications that must be met to allow for their use:

Construction and Demolition (C&D) Wood

C&D wood may be used as a fuel provided it is processed to remove contaminants according to best management practices.  The rule defines best management practices to include sorting by trained operators to remove non-wood materials (plastics, drywall, concrete, aggregates, dirt, and asbestos) and wood treated with creosote, pentachlorophenol, chromated copper arsenate, or other copper, chromium, or arsenical preservatives.  The rule contains specific training and procedural requirements for processors to follow.  Combustors of C&D wood must obtain a written certification from the processor for every new contract or purchase agreement.

Paper Recycling Residuals (PPR)

This exemption allows paper recycling mills whose boilers are designed to burn solid fuel to burn paper recycling residuals (PPR) generated on-site.  PPR consists of material, primarily wood fibers, that cannot be used to make paper and paperboard products.  It may contain small amounts of non-fiber material such as plastics, waxes, adhesives, dyes and inks, clays, starches, and other coating and filler material.

Creosote-treated Railroad Ties (CTRT)

CTRT material must be processed for metal removal and shredding or grinding and can only be fired in boilers that were designed to burn both biomass and fuel oil as part of normal operation, i.e., not just for startup purposes.  Boilers at major source pulp and paper mills or power producers that are subject to the Boiler MACT and that were originally designed to burn biomass and fuel oil, but have been modified to burn natural gas instead of fuel oil, may still burn CTRT provided that the boiler commenced construction prior to April 14, 2014 and the CTRT does not comprise more than 40 percent of the fuel on an annual heat input basis.

The published final rule is available here:  https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-02-08/pdf/2016-01866.pdf

EPA’s summary page is available here:  https://www.epa.gov/rcra/final-rule-additions-list-categorical-non-waste-fuels