ISRI Fights EPA Effort to Define Scrap Metal as 'Waste'

Date: October 30, 2011

Source: News Room

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) is worried about an EPA effort to define scrap metals as solid waste that would subject them to more stringent regulation under rules defined by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). At issue is a 2008 EPA study that found 52 of the 223 damage cases it investigated likely correlated with an exemption at scrap metal facilities, according to environmental groups Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, which used the contentious study as the main basis for their argument that scrap metal be excluded from existing exemptions and treated as waste. In a detailed comment filed by Earthjustice, the groups said the EPA study found a strong correlation between pre-2008 exemptions from RCRA and environmental damage.

ISRI counters that the EPA study was baseless and cites an independent review of the study conducted by Weston Solutions Inc., which concluded that none of the environmental damage associated with the 52 cases could be shown to be the result of companies likely operating under exclusions and/or exemptions. Weston's analysis found that six of the 52 cases did not involve site contamination at all; contamination at 35 of the remaining 46 sites predated the 1997 scrap metal exclusion; 32 of the 46 contaminated sites were no longer operating and could not be the cause of ongoing incidents of "discard" that would warrant imposition of new conditions governing scrap metal processing, management and/or handling; and about 24 cases were associated with metal smelters, foundries and related activities that were not associated with exempt or excluded scrap metal operations.

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