Where Does Hazardous Waste Go When It Is Disposed Of?

When hazardous waste is packaged and containerized for shipment and disposal, a lot of generators don’t even know where it goes or what happens to it. Assuming it is sent to a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved end disposal facility, it may end up in one of the following processes: Incineration, Stabilization, Neutralization, Fuels Blending, or Secure Chemical Landfill. Each has its pros and cons.

Generally, the higher the cost of a disposal process, the generator incurs less liability. Some wastes can only be Landfilled such as Asbestos or Radioactive wastes. Sometimes it is more advantageous to direct Mercuric Salts to a Secure Chemical Landfill, as incineration is causing airborne release. These new high-tech landfills are underlined with a non-permeable, self-sealing sheet. Liquid and gas monitors are stationed frequently as per the approved design of a Professional Engineering Consultant firm. The designs are also approved by the State and Federal Authorities. Contents are cataloged for future removal is need be.

A high British Thermal Unit (BTU) valued organic liquid waste can possibly be Fuels Blended and resold as fuel to a Co-Gen plant for a Feed Source. The liquid must be sampled and tested to insure lack of Poly Chlorinated BiPhenyls (PCBs) and/or any other suspected contaminants that may be present in a non-virgin waste product.

Neutralization is a process that relates to usually inorganic acidic or alkaline based liquids. It is basically a batch tank that is treated to bring pH to a neutral level. Metals get precipitated out, and the liquid is generally released to the environment after testing and analytical results meet EPA guidelines. The dried precipitate is captured, contained, and transported to a Secure Chemical Landfill.

Stabilization is a process that involves a material that can not be extracted and/or the cost of reclaim is exorbitant. Items such as Radioactive wastes, and Mercuric Salts….substances that could possibly leach out into the ground water table, are Stabilized, and then placed into a Secure Chemical Landfill for an unlimited period and monitored. The process is not unlike mixing a batch of cement, and sprinkling in the hazardous constituents.

Incineration obviously burns toxics and almost all other substances and is sometimes the most cost efficient means of disposal. It is sometimes the most expensive also. Specific Incinerators are licensed to burn specific wastes. Authorities can monitor gas and liquid releases as exhaust gases are moved through scrubbers and filters.

Depending upon what the waste streams are and how they are Profiled will determine the disposal, dilution, or recycling method. Never fail to consult a knowledgeable professional that can guide you down the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way of covering your hazardous waste disposal liabilities.

Source by John R. Carpenter

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