Little Ado About Very Much: EPA Reinterprets Its PCB Guidance

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Explore:  EPA TSCA

On Tuesday, EPA issued its “reinterpretation" of its understanding of what building wastes constitute “PCB bulk product waste” under TSCA regulations, as opposed to “PCB remediation waste." Previously, when PCBs migrated from building products, such as caulk, the caulk would be considered PCB bulk product waste, while the underlying contaminated building material would be considered PCB remediation waste. Now the building material will also be considered PCB bulk product waste. Indeed, EPA has slightly expanded the reinterpretation from its draft proposal; it now allows the building substrate to be characterized as PCB bulk product waste, even if, after the designation, it becomes separated from the original building product containing the PCBs.

EPA noted that it did not receive any “comments in direct opposition” to the reinterpretation. That’s because, under the current regime, no one could really oppose this change, which is certainly better than nothing. The question is not, however, whether this policy helps at all; the question is whether EPA should be spending resources tinkering around the edges or whether it is time for a fundamental reevaluation of the PCB regulatory system. I suspect that most of the comments not in “direct opposition” in fact supported a major overhaul.

As I noted last month, EPA is apparently at least considering allowing PCB regulation to be delegated to the states. It cannot come soon enough.