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Ecology offers changes to solid waste handling draft rule

AGC Environment Committee members recently traveled to Olympia to discuss the need for changes to DOE’s proposed solid waste rule with legislators and DOE rule drafters.

AGC Environment Committee members recently traveled to Olympia to discuss the need for changes to DOE’s proposed solid waste rule with legislators and DOE rule drafters.

In response to concerns raised by AGC and its coalition partners, DOE expressed its intention to revise the rule to address industry concerns, although more changes are needed.

Carter Rohrbough, Vice President and Regional Manager for Granite Construction and Chair of AGC’s Environment Committee, provided examples to a March 16 joint session of the Senate Environment and House Local Government Committees showing that DOE’s draft rule in its current form could increase costs up to 10 percent because the draft rule would mean hauling and dumping previously usable soils into far off landfills.

(In photo, Carter Rohrbough of Granite, with Jimmy Blais of Stoneway Concrete and Scott Woerman of Landau and Associates, testify before a joint Senate Environment and House Local Government Committee hearing on DOE solid waste draft rules.)

And on March 14, AGC Environment Committee member Connie Sue Martin, Shareholder with Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, was part of an industry delegation that met with DOE rule drafters.  Martin is concerned that the draft rule may cause a contractor to unwittingly become subject to solid waste landfill rules, or require satisfaction of onerous solid waste permitting.

Furthermore, the transfer of impacted soils or impacted sediments permitted under the new rules could expose contractors to liability under the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) or Solid Waste Handling Standards (SWHS), including citizen suit liability, for releases of contaminants at levels above those for clean soil, but not above existing levels at the receiving site.

In her testimony before the legislative committee, Laurie Davies, Program Manager at DOE, said that DOE will respond to industry concerns by removing the soils section in the proposed rule and revising the definition of “clean soil” versus “contaminated soil” so that definitions are based on existing (and not more onerous than) MTCA cleanup levels.  Davies also noted that a new rule draft will allow placement of soils at any location, provided the placement does not exceed MTCA cleanup standards that would apply at that location.

These are considered positive developments, however a new draft of the rule confirming these changes has not yet been released. 

AGC and industry partners remain concerned about the draft rule’s treatment of recycled concrete. AGC Environment Committee member Jimmy Blais of Stoneway Concrete raised several concerns with legislators, including the treatment of piles that are used for recyclable concrete.  The piles by nature are very large and difficult to move, yet the drat rule subjects them to a plethora of unfeasible design standards such as having to place all the piles on sealed surfaces.  In addition, the draft rule precludes sites from being considered recycling facilities if they accept materials that are not source-separated, causing the reclassification of nearly all concrete, asphalt, steel and wood recycling facilities.

DOE intends to finalize and adopt a new solid waste handling rule by spring of 2018. For more information contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.

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