Remedial Action Plan Permits for Hazardous Remediation Waste

This document is designed to provide general information only. It is not intended to replace, interpret, or modify the laws, rules, or regulations it addresses.

What is a RCRA Remedial Action Plan Permit?

A Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Remedial Action Plan Permit (RAPP) is a special form of RCRA permit that an owner or operator may obtain to manage hazardous remediation waste. Remediation waste means all solid and hazardous wastes and all media (including groundwater, surface water, soils, and sediments) and debris that contain listed hazardous wastes or which themselves exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic, which are managed for the purpose of implementing cleanup. This permit became a part of the federal RCRA program when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) adopted the Hazardous Remediation Waste Requirements (HWIR-Media) on November 30, 1998.

The HWIR-Media regulations made several major changes to traditional RCRA permitting procedures for the management of hazardous remediation wastes. First, they make permits for treating, storing, and disposing of remediation wastes faster and easier to obtain. Second, they provide that obtaining these permits will not subject the owner and/or operator to facility-wide corrective action. Third, they create a hazardous waste management unit called a staging pile that allows more flexibility in storing remediation waste during a cleanup. Finally, they exclude some dredged materials from having to be managed as a hazardous waste under RCRA Subtitle C.

On June 17, 1999, the Illinois Pollution Control Board adopted these new federal regulations. The cornerstone of implementing the HWIR-Media Rule is a new RCRA permit called the Remedial Action Plan Permit (RAPP). The intent of the RAPP is to expedite remediation efforts performed at sites where hazardous waste management is required, including sites in Illinois EPA's Site Remediation Program (SRP), Brownfields, and abandoned contaminated lands, by making it easier for a site owner/operator to obtain permitting for a cleanup. The RAPP allows any site owner/operator needing to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous remediation waste to perform these activities, (1) without being subject to facility-wide corrective action; (2) with streamlined public participation requirements; and (3) with waste management unit design based on remediation, not on-going waste management operations. The requirements for a RAPP are set forth in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 703, Subpart H. Although the content requirements for a RAPP are significantly less than those required in a RCRA Part B permit, it should be noted that a complete, accurate, and technical application must be submitted to the Illinois EPA in order to obtain a RAPP. The streamlined nature of the RAPP requirements will reduce the Illinois EPA's application review time only if applicants submit complete, accurate, and technical applications with all necessary supporting documents and maps.

What makes a RAPP different from a traditional RCRA permit?

There are several steps in the traditional permitting process that have been eliminated for RAPPs.

  1. The content requirements for applications are significantly less than those required in a RCRA Part B permit application. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 703.300);
  2. The "completeness check" required by 35 Ill. Adm. Code 705.122(b) is not required. Instead the Illinois EPA will work with the owner and operator to correct deficiencies prior to making a tentative decision to approve or deny the application. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 703.303(a));
  3. There are reduced public notice requirements. A facility mailing list, a preapplication meeting, public notice at the application stage, and an information repository for the remediation waste management site are not required. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 703.303(b) through (d)); and
  4. The procedural requirements for modification and termination, revocation and reissuance are much more flexible for RAPPs than for traditional RCRA permits. These requirements can be specified site-specifically in the RAPP instead of the format found in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 703, Subpart G. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 703.304).

However, a RAPP application must contain enough information to demonstrate that operations, following the provisions in an owner's or operator's RAPP application and supporting documentation, will ensure compliance with the applicable technical requirements of 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724, 726, and 728.

Features included in a RAPP

Staging Piles

As part of a RAPP, an owner or operator may utilize a new unit, called a staging pile, to facilitate remediation. A staging pile is a unit an owner or operator may use to store hazardous remediation wastes or remediation wastes otherwise subject to land disposal requirements. Placing hazardous wastes into a staging pile does not subject those wastes to land disposal restrictions. By receiving a RAPP with a staging pile, an owner or operator will be allowed to pile hazardous wastes on-site prior to treatment and/or disposal.

There are no standard design requirements for a staging pile, but the regulations (35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.654) require that it must be protective of human health and the environment. Furthermore, a staging pile may not be used in conjunction with any type of incineration activities, nor may hazardous wastes be treated while in a staging pile.

An application for a staging pile must contain design and operating documents that document how the staging pile(s) will facilitate remedial activity, prevent or minimize releases into the environment, and minimize or control cross-media transfers in accordance with 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.654. Ignitable or reactive wastes (according to the definition in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 721.121 or 721.123) may not be placed in staging piles unless the owner or operator can demonstrate compliance with 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.117. Similarly, incompatible wastes may not be placed in a staging pile unless the owner or operator has complied with 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.117. An owner or operator may not pile remediation wastes on the same base where incompatible wastes or materials were previously piled.

Staging piles are meant to be temporary. A staging pile may not operate for more than two years unless the Illinois EPA grants an operating term extension. An operating term extension may be granted for a period up to 180 days beyond that originally stated in the RAPP.

Corrective Action Management Units (CAMUs)

A RAPP allows an owner or operator to utilize a corrective action management unit, or CAMU. CAMUs can be used to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous remediation waste, without the waste being subject to the Land Disposal Restrictions. Under the CAMU regulations, there are two general types of CAMUs, temporary CAMUs and permanent CAMUs.

Temporary CAMUs may operate for two years. A six month operating extension may be granted to temporary CAMUs. Temporary CAMUs must be designed, operated, and closed in accordance with the staging pile requirements.

Permanent CAMUs are CAMUs where treatment or storage is going to last for longer than 2 1/2  years, or for disposal CAMUs. The regulations provide for design requirements for the liner and cover system, as well as for treatment requirements for wastes placed in a permanent CAMU.

CAMUs are normally located at or near the site of remedial activity, however, designation of a CAMU in an uncontaminated area of the facility may occur if including such an area is more protective of human health and the environment than managing wastes in a contaminated area.

Temporary Units (TUs)

Temporary units include tanks and containers used for treatment or storage of hazardous remediation waste during remedial activities. TUs can be utilized in a RAPP to speed the remediation process by allowing an owner or operator to place hazardous remediation waste in on-site tanks and containers for temporary storage or treatment without the need to acquire a traditional RCRA permit. Design considerations for a TU are found in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.653, and include such factors as the length of time such a unit will be in operation, the type of unit, the volumes, physical and chemical characteristics of the waste to be managed, the potential for releases, hydrogeological and other relevant environmental conditions that may influence the migration of any potential release, and the potential for exposure of human and environmental receptors if releases occur.

As its name indicates, wastes may only be placed in these units temporarily. TUs must remain within the facility boundaries and must not operate for a time period of more than one year unless the Illinois EPA grants an operating term extension. An operating term extension may be granted for a period up to one year beyond that originally stated in the RAPP.

Contingency Plan Requirements

The owner/operator must restrict access to the remediation waste management site, inspect the remediation waste management site for releases of hazardous waste constituents, provide classroom or on the job training for personnel handling remediation waste, take steps to prevent ignition or reaction of ignitable or reactive waste, develop a plan to minimize the potential for accidents and a plan of action if an accident occurs, and designate at least one employee to be present or on-call at all times to act as an emergency coordinator. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.101(j))

Streamlined Public Participation Requirements

The streamlined public participation requirements differ from traditional RCRA public participation requirements by requiring the Illinois EPA to conduct a one time notification by radio, newspaper, and letter to interested parties and government officials when the Illinois EPA issues the draft RAPP or notice of intent to deny. Following notification, there will be a 45-day comment period and an opportunity for an informal public hearing before the final decision is made. There are no public participation requirements for owners or operators seeking a RAPP. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 703.303)

Exemptions from RCRA Subtitle C for Some Dredged Materials

Dredged materials are excluded from Subtitle C if they are managed under permits issued under the Clean Water Act (CWA) or Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA). A dredged material that is upland-disposed by the Army Corps of Engineers and has no return flow to waters of the United States, as defined by CWA Section 404, would not be regulated under the MPRSA or CWA, and is not subject to exclusion under a RAPP. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 721.104)

Where can a RAPP unit be located?

RAPPs are generally issued for on-site remediation purposes. However, an owner or operator may request a RAPP for remediation waste management activities at an off-site location if the owner or operator believes such a location would be more protective than the contaminated area or areas in close proximity. An off-site RAPP is subject to the expanded public participation requirements in Section 703.191, 703.192, and 703.193, and to the public notice requirements in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 705. If an off-site RAPP is being considered, it is recommended that the Illinois EPA be contacted prior to the owner/operator of a hazardous waste remediation site submitting an application.

What are the operating standards for a RAPP at a remediation waste management site?

Remediation waste management sites must comply with all parts of 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724 except Subparts B, C, D (General Facility Standards, Preparedness and Prevention Standards and Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures), and 724.201 (facility-wide corrective action). For these sites, Subparts B, C, and D, have been replaced with performance standards as detailed in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.101(j). Also, on-site remedial activities are exempted from 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724 Subpart CC requirements (Air Emission Standards for Tanks, Surface Impoundments, and Containers).

As with any RCRA permit, the RAPP may be modified if needed. In a RAPP, the Illinois EPA will specify procedures for any future modification, revocation and reissuance, or termination of the RAPP in accordance with the regulations (35 Ill. Adm. Code 703.304).

What are the record keeping requirements under a RAPP?

The owner/operator must keep records of all data used to complete the RAPP application and any supplemental information that is submitted for at least three years from the date the application is signed, and any operating and/or other records the Illinois EPA requires the owner/operator to maintain as a condition of the RAPP (Ill. Adm. Code 703.305(a)).

Are there closure and financial assurance requirements for remediation waste management units in a RAPP?

The HWIR-media rule does not alter the way that the closure requirements found in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.Subpart G or unit-specific (CAMU, TU, or Staging Pile) closure requirements apply to cleanup sites. Remediation units permitted under a RAPP will also remain subject to the unit-specific RCRA financial assurance requirements for third party liability and closure. The owner or operator does not need to provide financial assurance for the entire remedial project, just for closure and/or post-closure care of the units permitted under the RAPP. In addition, the liability requirements are just for releases from the units to be permitted, not for releases from the site as a whole. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.Subparts G and H, 724.652(e)(4), 724.653(a)).

35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.247(c) allows an owner/operator to request an adjusted level of liability coverage, if the owner/operator demonstrates that the required levels of coverage (see 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724.247(a) and (b)) are not consistent with the degree and duration of risk associated with the project. If an owner/operator would like to reduce the amount of liability coverage required (it is possible to reduce the required amount of zero dollars), the application should:

  1. Clearly state that a request to reduce the required level of liability coverage required is being made.
  2. State what amount of liability coverage the owner/operator believe is appropriate.
  3. State why the owner/operator believes the requested liability amount(s) are appropriate.

Are there any other waste management units to which the revised RCRA requirements apply?

The use of any tank or container storage units, landfills, surface impoundments, waste piles, or any other storage/treatment/disposal (except an incinerator) unit as part of a RAPP is permissible. However, unless designated as part of a CAMU, TU, or staging pile, use of these units with a RAPP requires an owner or operator to follow the current RCRA technical requirements set forth in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 724, Subparts I, J, K, L, M, N and X.

What is involved in getting a RAPP?

The forms and instructions for obtaining a RAPP can be found at RCRA Remedial Action Plan Permit Forms and Instructions. The application and accompanying documents must contain sufficient information to demonstrate that the proposed remedial activities will not cause a violation of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act or the applicable regulations.

The necessary forms can also be obtained by contacting:

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Bureau of Land, Permit Section
1021 North Grand Avenue East
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
217/524-3300

The Illinois EPA prefers that RAPP applications be submitted as a stand alone document. It is important to note that only information regarding the unit(s) to be permitted need to be submitted. Information regarding the cleanup of the entire site is not required.

Once an application has been submitted, the Illinois EPA will determine if it is in compliance with regulatory standards. If the application fails to show the proposed activities meet the regulatory standards, the Illinois EPA may request more information from the owner or operator. If the owner or operator refuses to provide any additional information or to correct the deficiencies, the Illinois EPA may either make the tentative decision to deny the application or approve it with conditions. If the Illinois EPA makes the tentative decision to approve the application, the Illinois EPA will prepare a draft RAPP. If the Illinois EPA makes the tentative decision to deny the application, the Illinois EPA will prepare a notice of intent to deny. If an intent to deny is issued, an owner or operator must work with the Illinois EPA to make all changes or obtain all information Illinois EPA would need to withdraw the intent to deny and issue a draft RAPP. As a part of preparing and issuing a draft RAPP, the Illinois EPA must fulfill the public participation requirements as defined in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 703, Subpart H. The Illinois EPA will issue a permit decision only after the comment period is completed and all significant comments considered.

Generally, a RAPP becomes effective 35 days after the owner or operator and all commentators have been informed of the Illinois EPA's final decision. However, if no commenters (including the applicant) request changes to the draft RAPP, the final RAPP may become effective on the date the final RAPP is issued. Physical construction of new units permitted under the RAPP for treating, storing, or disposing of hazardous remediation waste can begin only after a final RAPP is effective.

Any commenter or public hearing participant on the draft RAPP or notice of intent to deny may appeal any decisions the Illinois EPA makes on the final RAPP. Any person that did not file comments or participate in draft RAPP hearings may petition for administrative review only to the extent of the changes made from the draft RAPP to the final RAPP decision.

What are the time periods associated with RAPPs?

RAPPs are issued on a fixed term, not to exceed ten years. The Illinois EPA may renew a RAPP in fixed increments of no more than ten years. In cases where the remedial action is short-term, the RAPP can specify a shorter term than the ten-year maximum.