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Research Project: Enhancing Production and Ecosystem Services of Horticultural and Agricultural Systems in the Southeastern United States

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: FGD uses in agriculture: status of federal regulations and support

item Torbert, Henry - Allen

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/8/2017
Publication Date: 5/8/2017
Citation: Torbert III, H.A. 2017. FGD uses in agriculture: status of federal regulations and support. World of Coal Ash Conference. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In 2010 the EPA proposed regulations under RCRA to address the disposal of CCRs. Initially, the EPA proposed two regulatory options: 1) continue to regulate under Subtitle D, or 2) regulate under the more restrictive Subtitle C. After extensive study during the rulemaking process, EPA established regulations under Subtitle D and the final rule was effective on Oct. 14, 2015. Changes in the new rules primarily focused on managing of CCR in landfills and holding ponds. But it did cover the utilization of CCR for “beneficial use”. In the rule, the EPA allows for the CCR products to be exempt from the landfill rules and otherwise be utilized if it meets the definition of “beneficial use”. The final definition of the term “Beneficial Use of CCR” involves meeting 4 criteria: The use of FGD in agriculture can meet these criteria if used appropriately and the rule provided some guideline or expectations for what would be required. For example, to address the issue of “excess quantities”, the rule states that the field-application of FGD gypsum amounts must not exceed scientifically-supported quantities required for enhancing soil properties and/or crop yields”. The US Department of Agriculture National Resource Conservation Service has developed a National Conservation Standards for gypsum use, which outlines the appropriate rates for various agricultural uses that would meet this scientifically-supported definition. More details regarding these Conservation Standards will be provided in the presentation. The fourth criteria is more problematic, primarily because a comprehensive risk assessment for agricultural use of FGD has not been concluded. As a result, the rule provides a stop gap guideline that utilizes the criteria developed for agricultural application of biosolids regarding environmental releases. The rule states: “While the management scenarios differ between biosludge application and the use of CCR as soil amendments, EPA stated that the Agency would consider application of CCR for agriculture uses not to be a legitimate beneficial use if they occurred at constituent levels or loading rates greater than EPA’s biosolids regulations allow (75 FR 35162–35163, June 21, 2010)”. The rule further states that “The Agency has also been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the risks associated with the agricultural use of CCR”. This risk assessment is ongoing, and details regarding the progress will be addressed in the presentation.