Beneficial Use and Recycling of Municipal Waste Combustion Residues - A Comprehensive Resource Document Page: 4 of 143
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From about 1986 to October 1993, I managed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of
Research and Development's research on municipal waste combustion (MWC) residues. After completing a
large project that evaluated the effectiveness of solidification/stabilization technologies for treating the
residues, I began to focus on the development of technical criteria for the safe use of these residues with Dr.
David Kosson at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, and others from several countries. MWC ash was
being safely used in other countries; this experience and the results of research and demonstrations in the
United States showed that it could be safely used here, but most of the ash was being landfilled. I believed,
as did many, that the development of criteria for safe use of MWC ash would help provide the basis for
increased use and decreased reliance on landfilling of this resource.
Unfortunately, budget constraints and EPA's subsequent termination of research on MWC residues resulted
in this work never being completed. One objective of that uncompleted work was to develop a document that
compiled available information on the beneficial use of MWC residues. In October 1993, I left EPA to manage
the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Municipal Solid Waste Program at the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory. Parts of this program involved support of ash utilization projects. Thanks to the support of Simon
Freidrich of the DOE, the last task of the Program was to develop the document that I had been unable to do
at EPA. This document, Beneficial Use and Recycling ofMunicipal Waste Combustion Residues, is the result
of this work. Although less comprehensive than I had originally envisioned, it will, I hope, be a valuable
addition to the literature and help increase the responsible use of MWC residues in the United States.
During the years I have been involved with this issue, I have had the opportunity to work with many interesting
people from all over the world. I was also fortunate to participate in many international activities: the
International Energy Agency, International Ash Working Group, international symposia, and similar activities
dealing with ash. One experience I will always remember is participating in public hearings about ash. Quite
often these hearings brought one thing into clear focus-that most people opposed to waste-to-energy (WTE)
and the use of MWC ash did not have accurate information from credible resources. Although some did not
care about the facts, I believe that many did. Emotion often ruled the meetings and dictated the final outcomes,
resulting in ash use projects being delayed, moved to other locations, or canceled. Today people are more
knowledgeable, or seem to be more willing to listen to credible sources. To be successful in implementing an
ash utilization project, the developer must involve the public early in the process. I hope this document will
help gain public support for responsible use of MWC ash.
The document summarizes data on the physical and chemical characteristics of MWC residues that are
important for its successful use. A list and description of beneficial use projects in the United States are
provided, as is a summary of ash use in several other countries. Also presented are data from leaching tests,
analysis of leachates from ash landfills, analysis of TCLP testing of ash from several WTE facilities, and
similar information. Results are presented of risk assessments conducted to evaluate human health risks
associated with various ash uses. This and other information demonstrates, that the MWC ash can be safely
used with no unacceptable risk to human health and the environment. Guidelines for its use are also discussed.
Although activities in several states appear to be encouraging for the increased use of MWC ash, there are still
impediments to its widespread use. These include:
- Concerns about environmental liability. The document discusses the results of a recent analysis of this
issue that shows how environmental liability can be managed and may no longer be a major
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Wiles, C. & Shepherd, P. Beneficial Use and Recycling of Municipal Waste Combustion Residues - A Comprehensive Resource Document, book, April 26, 1999; Golden, Colorado. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc780557/m1/4/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.