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Project XL

For Public Utilities

Amendments Effective September 3, 2005 through May 24, 2011

Project Summary

Project XL allowed public utilities to designate utility-owned central collection facilities (UCCF's), where hazardous waste from manholes and underground road vaults could be consolidated. The Project XL regulations allowed utilities to bring these wastes to a predesignated UCCF after all requirements, procedures and approvals for designating UCCFs were satisfied. The project was effective from September 3, 2005 to May 24, 2011. No utilities participated, so the project was allowed to sunset.

Lessons Learned

Utilities listed the following concerns about the project:

  • The sunset date deterred utilities that had state hazardous waste permits from applying. Some utilities were concerned that it would be too costly to both maintain their permit and apply for Project XL. However, if they rescinded their permit and the project was allowed to sunset, they would have to go through the permitting process anew.
  • Utilities were concerned about the possibility of legal challenges that might strike down the Project XL provisions.
  • Other types of utilities or similar types of entities that might have participated were not included because of the limited scope of the project.

Community concerns included:

  • Increased truck traffic through their communities.
  • Increased waste storage in their communities if utilities did not currently have a Part 373 Hazardous Waste permit and did not currently bring road vault waste back to their sites participated in Project XL.

National Project XL Program

Project XL, which stands for "excellence and Leadership", is a national initiative that tests innovative ways of achieving better and more cost-effective public health and environmental protection. The experience and lessons learned from Project XL will assist the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in redesigning its current regulatory and policy setting approaches. Project XL encourages testing of cleaner, cheaper, and smarter ways to attain environmental results superior to those achieved under current regulations and policies. Under this initiative, the DEC developed a proposal called "Project XL for Public Utilities" which was submitted to USEPA in May of 1996 and was eventually accepted into the National XL Program.

Project XL for Public Utilities

With significant stakeholder involvement, USEPA and DEC co-developed the Final Project Agreement and the regulations required to implement Project XL for Public Utilities. USEPA's final regulations were promulgated in 1999 while concurrently the DEC was working to promulgate corresponding State regulations. DEC regulations became effective on September 3, 2005 and included a sunset date of May 24, 2011. The project would have required state and federal regulation changes to be extended.

Traditional Regulatory Approach

Under traditional New York state and federal hazardous waste regulations, public utilities must transport waste generated at remote locations to a permitted treatment, storage and disposal facility(TSDF). Stormwater and sediments collect in manholes and underground vaults. In order to service these, utility companies must first remove the stormwater and sediment. This waste is frequently a hazardous waste (in the case of phone and electric systems, for lead, especially in urban settings; in the case of oil and gas pipelines, ignitability, TCLP failures for benzene, and occasionally PCB's). In some cases, the maintenance is planned, and there may be sufficient time to preplan for waste disposal, but in many cases due to emergency repairs, it may take several days to get permission from the receiving TSDF. If a utility wishes to designate and bring waste from remote locations to their own collection facility, a TSDF permit is needed.

Project Details

The amendments to New York state and federal hazardous waste regulations allowed public utilities to designate utility-owned central collection facilities (UCCF's), where hazardous waste from manholes and underground road vaults could be consolidated. To designate a UCCF, participating utilities were required to undertake a public notice and public comment process, with approval granted by the Department. The Project XL regulations allowed participating utilities to bring these wastes to a predesignated UCCF after all requirements, procedures and approvals for designating UCCFs were satisfied. Wastes would have to be handled in compliance with Large-Quantity Generator standards. Wastes would be transported from remote location via a Part 364 hauler, on a hazardous waste manifest so transportation regulations would remain as protective as the traditional hazardous waste regulatory requirements. The wastes would be placed in secure storage. Storage time would be limited to 90 days, and the collection facility would have employee training and contingency plans. This would be superior to storing hazardous wastes at the point of generation, e.g., along a public road.

Other Key Points

  • Since waste would have needed to be moved from point of generation to a UCCF either when collection was finished or when workers left for the day, whichever came first, waste would never have been unsecured. This would have reduced the utility's liability and potential environmental harm because the waste would have been better protected from accidental releases and vandalism.
  • Utilities would have benefited from being able to consolidate loads for shipment; this should have led to decreased disposal costs. Indirect benefits to all parties would have resulted from a reduction in paperwork.
  • Utilities would have been required to invest 1/3 of direct savings into new environmental projects.
  • In order to designate a UCCF, utilities would have fulfilled rigorous requirements, including public notice with substantial outreach to stakeholder and a public comment process. Department approval would have been needed for designated utility-owned collection facilities. The Department could have added additional local requirements (for instance, limited the amount of hazardous waste stored at a UCCF).
  • Participation by utilities was voluntary. Utilities that did not participate remained subject to full hazardous waste management regulations, as applicable.

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