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PFAS: The Emerging Contenders in the Hazardous Constituents Arena – An In-Depth Analysis

In the ever-evolving world of environmental regulations, comprehension and clarity are paramount for successful compliance. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put forth a significant proposal that stands to affect numerous operations: the inclusion of nine specific PFAS compounds into the RCRA Appendix VIII list of Hazardous Constituents. These nine compounds are:

  1. Perfluorooctanoic acid
  2. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid
  3. Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid
  4. Hexafluoropropylene oxide-dimer acid
  5. Perfluorononanoic acid
  6. Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid
  7. Perfluorodecanoic acid
  8. Perfluorohexanoic acid
  9. Perfluorobutanoic acid

This proposal is currently open for public commentary until April 8, 2024, with the final rules anticipated to be released by late summer. This development is not only noteworthy but also bears significant implications for facilities operating under RCRA permits.

Implications of the Addition to Appendix VIII

  • The proposal seeks to include 9 out of thousands of PFAS compounds into the RCRA Appendix VIII list.
  • It covers both short and long-chain PFAS – marking a significant shift from the traditional regulatory focus on PFOA and PFAS (8 carbon PFAS).
  • Facilities having RCRA permits will be subject to RCRA Corrective Action for these newly listed compounds.

However, it’s essential to comprehend what this proposal does not encompass:

  • It does not currently classify these PFAS compounds as hazardous wastes, although it may pave the way for such a classification in the future.
  • It does not list all PFAS compounds.

Understanding these changes requires familiarity with the terminologies used. Here are a few key terms to help you better understand these amendments:

  • Hazardous Waste: Chemical constituents and processes that the EPA designates as hazardous by characteristic, process, and lists of chemicals.
  • Hazardous Substance: Chemical constituent or waste subject to CERCLA/Superfund – involves spill reporting and liability for clean-ups.
  • Hazardous Material: Chemical constituents and waste subject to DOT transportation rules.
  • Hazardous Constituent: Chemicals listed in Appendix VIII of RCRA, subject to corrective action at sites.

If these rules are successfully implemented, listing all nine (9) PFAS in Appendix VIII, we could anticipate the EPA to next designate these chemicals as hazardous wastes under RCRA. This would automatically classify them as hazardous substances under CERCLA, resulting in CERCLA cleanup authority.

The immediate impact of this amendment would be most felt by hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) already subject to various RCRA waste management requirements. As per the proposed rules, approximately 1,740 TSDFs could be subject to additional RCRA corrective action requirements following the adoption of these rules. It is important to note that the EPA has previously submitted other pending proposed rules regarding certain PFAS that are expected to be approved shortly. These include the designation of PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA hazardous substances, and a PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six PFAS compounds.

At VLS Texas Molecular, we closely monitor these regulatory changes and provide services to ensure your business remains compliant. Our services include PFAS disposal, AFFF disposal, firefighting foam changeout, and PFAS wastewater treatment utilizing hazardous waste sequestration injection wells. 

With facilities in Deer Park, TX, and Corpus Christi, TX, our teams at VLS Texas Molecular take pride in being among our industry’s most resourceful and responsive providers of wastewater treatment and disposal services, including PFAS and PFAS derivative wastewaters. We provide responsible and safe treatment and disposal solutions for even those most challenging industrial hazardous aqueous waste and wastewaters.

Stay informed, stay compliant, and let us guide you through these regulatory changes. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in managing PFAS and other hazardous constituents.