The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery recently released two documents to support the beneficial use of industrial non-hazardous secondary materials-a methodology for evaluating beneficial use and a compendium of resources.  These documents are part of an ongoing EPA effort to provide resources on evaluating beneficial use following the issuance of its rule on the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR), including fly ash (see related Observer article, Jan. 2015).

While EPA’s CCR rule allows for several beneficial uses of these materials that follow prescribed criteria, it requires the evaluation of potential impacts of uses such as large-scale, “unencapsulated” applications.  The new methodology and compendium relate to both encapsulated and unencapsulated beneficial uses of industrial non-hazardous secondary materials.  According to EPA, these resources will “help address one of the primary barriers to increasing beneficial use of secondary materials: a lack of risk information and tools to help decision-makers evaluate the potential for adverse impacts to human health and the environment.”

In addition to these new resources, EPA has previously released a risk evaluation for the beneficial use of fly ash as a replacement for Portland cement in concrete, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum used as a replacement for mined gypsum in wallboard, and silica-based foundry sands used in soil-related applications (seerelated Observer article, Feb. 2014).  As outlined in the CCR disposal rule, an important criteria for unencapsulated uses, such as fill, is to evaluate potential contamination to ground water.  In 2015, EPA updated its Industrial Waste Management Evaluation Model (IWEM) to help evaluate potential impacts to ground water in structural fill and roadway applications.

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at or (703) 837-5415.