The statement of scope for this rule, SS 109-19 was approved by the Governor on October 31, 2019, published in Register No. 767A1 on November 4, 2019, and approved by the Natural Resources Board on February 26, 2020. This rule was approved by the Governor on February 10, 2022.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board adopts an order to repeal NR 514.09 (1) (b) 7.; to renumber NR 506.17; to renumber and amend NR 500.02 (1), 504.02 (1), 506.02 (1), 507.02 (1), 508.02 (1), 512.02 (1), 512.13 (1), 514.02 (1), 516.02 (1) and 520.02 (1); to amend NR 500.03(96), 500.05 (intro.), 500.08 (4), 504.10 (intro.), 506.08 (intro.), 507.18 (1) (a) and (3) (a), 507.19 (2) and (3), 507.27 (1) and (2), 507.28 (2), 508.01, and 520 Table 5; to repeal and recreate NR 507 Appendix I Table 3 and Table 4; and to create NR 500.03 (2m), (19m), (26b), (26f), (26k), (26p), (26s), (26w), (26y), (60m), (76m), (106m), (121m), (152m), (189m), (197) (Note), (246m), (254g) and (254r), 500.035, 504.10 (3) (g), 504.12, 506.083, 506.084, 506.17 (1) (title), (2), (3), and (4), 506.20, 507.15 (3), 507.18 (5), 507 Appendix I Table 1A and Table 2 Footnote 1, 508.06, 512.13 (1) (a), (b), and (c), 514.04 (7) and (8), 514.045 and 514.07 (10) relating to coal combustion residual landfills.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Natural Resources
1. Statutes Interpreted: Section 289.05(1), Wis. Stats., requires the department to promulgate rules establishing minimum standards for solid waste facilities. Sections 289.06(1) and 227.11(2)(a), Wis. Stats., confer rule making authority to the department to promulgate rules implementing ch. 289, Wis. Stats.
2. Statutory Authority: Sections 289.05(1), 289.06(1) and 227.11(2)(a), Wis. Stats.
3. Explanation of Agency Authority: Coal combustion residual (CCR) landfills are regulated in Wisconsin under ch. 289, Wis. Stats., chs. NR 500 to 520, Wis. Adm. Code, and federal rules. The proposed rule would incorporate federal requirements from 40 CFR 257, Subpart D in order for Wisconsin to seek approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a state CCR permit program for CCR landfills.
CCR is a “solid waste” within the meaning of s. 289.01(33), Wis. Stats. Section 289.05(1), Wis. Stats., requires the department to promulgate rules establishing minimum standards for solid waste facilities. Sections 289.06(1) and 227.11(2)(a), Wis. Stats., also confer rule making authority to the department to promulgate rules implementing ch. 289, Wis. Stats. These provisions supply the department with explicit authority to regulate disposal facilities handling CCR.
On April 17, 2015, the EPA published a final rule to regulate the disposal of CCR as solid waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 40 CFR Parts 257 and 261. The final rule was effective on October 14, 2015. The 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, Section 2301 allowed states to develop and submit a CCR permit program to EPA for approval. On July 17, 2018, EPA signed additional rule amendments (Phase One, Part One) with additional action pending to address other proposed rule amendments. These changes have allowed the State of Wisconsin to propose the creation of a CCR permit program.
4. Related Statutes or Rules: Portions of chs. NR 500 to 520, Wis. Adm. Code.
5. Plain Language Analysis: CCR, often called coal ash, is created when coal is burned by power plants to produce electricity. CCR may be disposed of in landfills or treated, stored or disposed of in impoundments designed to hold an accumulation of CCR and liquids. All CCR surface impoundments in Wisconsin will be closed within the next several years and no new impoundments are planned. The department does not currently regulate CCR surface impoundments under solid waste rules so the department is not proposing to incorporate federal requirements into its proposed CCR permitting program at this time. EPA will continue to regulate surface impoundments. CCR landfills in Wisconsin are currently regulated under both federal rules and existing Wisconsin rules. Where rules differ, CCR landfills must meet both federal and state laws. These proposed rules would allow Wisconsin to seek approval for a state CCR permit program from the EPA. EPA approval of a Wisconsin CCR permit program would allow CCR landfill operators to apply a single set of consolidated rules and interact with one regulatory agency.
The federal requirements for CCR landfills include location restrictions, design criteria, operating criteria, groundwater monitoring and corrective action, closure and post-closure care and recordkeeping, notification, and posting of information. Wisconsin proposes using both existing rules to meet these requirements and incorporating the new federal requirements for CCR landfills into Wisconsin rules where required. The proposed rule would also include requirements for initial permitting, public participation in plan review, and review fees.
Specific elements of the proposed rule include:
NR 500 General Solid Waste Management Requirements: The rule creates new definitions in ch. NR 500, Wis. Adm. Code, specific to coal combustion residual landfills to correspond with federal definitions. Other revisions to ch. NR 500, Wis. Adm. Code, clarify that exemptions may not be granted if they cause noncompliance with the minimum federal requirements and that plan modifications are also required to follow the general submittal requirements.
NR 504 Landfill Location, Performance, Design and Construction Criteria: The rule creates a new section, s. NR 504.12, Wis. Adm. Code, for minimum design and construction criteria for CCR landfills related to run-on and run-off controls, liner design, and final cover systems consistent with federal requirements. CCR landfills will need to be designed, constructed and operated in accordance with existing rule requirements and the additional criteria for CCR landfills under the proposed rule. A federal requirement that substantially differs from current rule is that new CCR landfills and lateral expansions of a CCR landfill are required to be designed and constructed with a subbase grade that is located no less than five feet above the upper limit of the uppermost aquifer or provide a demonstration that there will not be a hydraulic connection between any portion of the base of the CCR landfill and the uppermost aquifer. The federal definition of uppermost aquifer for a CCR landfills has been incorporated under ch. NR 500, Wis. Adm. Code, of the proposed rule. Any alternate liner proposals for CCR landfills must also demonstrate that the design meets the minimum federal requirements.
NR 506 Landfill Operational Criteria: The rule creates closure, long-term care, record keeping, inspection and reporting requirements for CCR landfills consistent with federal requirements. The closure requirements include procedures for notification, timeframes for initiation and completion of closure, deed notation, closure by removal of CCR and alternative closure requirements. Consistent with federal requirements, CCR landfills will be required to maintain a written operating record, but for some documents the rule requires the documents be maintained during the operating life and for at least 40 years after closure. Specific records will be required to be posted on a publicly accessible internet site maintained by the landfill owner or operator. Inspection requirements include periodic inspections by the owner or operator for dust control and stability and annual inspections by a licensed professional engineer related to the condition of the CCR landfill. An annual report will be required by January 31 of each year addressing fugitive dust control, the annual inspection, groundwater monitoring and corrective action, and leachate pipe cleaning and inspection.
NR 507 Environmental Monitoring: The rule creates a new subsection establishing a groundwater monitoring well network for CCR landfills that is consistent with federal requirements. These monitoring well networks, which are already installed at CCR landfills, will be designated “CCR wells” and are in addition to the groundwater monitoring network already required under existing state regulations. CCR wells will monitor groundwater quality in the uppermost aquifer beneath the CCR landfill while the other groundwater monitoring wells already required under existing ch. NR 507, Wis. Adm. Code, will monitor groundwater quality within all water-bearing soil layers, even if they do not qualify as being within the uppermost aquifer. The CCR wells and existing wells will be sampled for the parameters and frequencies as indicated in the revised ch. NR 507, Wis. Adm. Code, Appendix tables. Both sets of monitoring wells will be subject to the groundwater quality standards under ch. NR 140, Wis. Adm. Code, including provisions for setting preventive action limits (PALs) for indicator parameters and alternate concentration limits (ACLs) for contaminant concentrations that are naturally elevated above the groundwater quality standards. The rule includes requirements for establishing a groundwater detection monitoring system, notification requirements, and recordkeeping. It also creates a design management zone (the distance from the waste boundary at which some monitoring systems must be placed) of 0 feet for CCR wells, which may not be expanded.
NR 508 Responses when a Groundwater Standard is Attained or Exceeded: The rule creates a new subsection outlining remedial actions that are required when a groundwater standard is attained or exceeded at a CCR monitoring well at a CCR landfill. These procedures are similar to existing groundwater quality exceedance requirements for any landfill, but explicitly apply to CCR landfills in order to be equally protective as the federal CCR landfill regulations. Differences include the addition of an informational hearing to discuss the findings of the remedial action options report and the preparation of a remedial action options report immediately after confirmation of a potential release from the landfill rather than waiting until completion of the site investigation.
Once an exceedance has been detected, the owner or operator would be required to notify the DNR within 60 days from the end of the sampling period and respond by beginning an assessment of the cause and significance of the exceedance. The owner or operator would also have to begin assessment monitoring,” which consists of sampling all the CCR wells for the ch. NR 507, Wis. Adm. Code, Appendix I, Table 3 parameters, within 90 days of the verified exceedance. If a groundwater quality exceedance is detected during the assessment monitoring, the owner or operator would have to define the degree and extent of the contaminant, install at least one additional monitoring well, notify the potentially affected neighbors and submit a site investigation workplan to the DNR within 60 days unless the owner or operator could demonstrate that the exceedance was caused by natural or off-site sources. The owner or operator would then initiate a site investigation within 90 days of submittal of the workplan and prepare a site investigation report to the DNR within 60 days after completing the site investigation.
Upon confirmation of a release from a CCR landfill or verification of a groundwater standard exceedance during assessment monitoring that was not caused by off-site or natural sources, the owner or operator would also have 90 days to prepare and submit an initial remedial action options report that will assess possible corrective actions. The DNR will review and respond to the remedial action options report and any addendums and hold an informational public meeting to discuss the results of the remedial action options report prior to selection of a remedial action. The owner or operator would select a remedy that, at a minimum, meets the standards listed in s. NR 508.06(4) and ch. NR 722, Wis. Adm. Code. The owner or operator must describe the selected remedy in the revision of the remedial action options report and include a section indicating how the selected remedy meets the remedial action standards. The DNR would review and approve an appropriate remedial action for implementation by the owner or operator.
Within 90 days after the DNR approves a remedy from the remedial action report, the owner or operator would have to initiate remedial activities. Assessment monitoring would continue with semiannual sampling until there are at least two consecutive sampling rounds without any exceedance of a groundwater standard.
NR 512 Feasibility Report for Landfills: The rule includes additional requirements for feasibility reports for CCR landfills, consistent with federal requirements, when a new landfill is being proposed. The feasibility report would need to include a demonstration that addresses specific factors when determining whether an area is unstable. An “unstable area” is already defined in s. NR 500.03(246), Wis. Adm. Code, and can include poor foundation conditions, areas susceptible to mass movements, and karst terrains. The rule also includes additional limits on facilities or practices near floodplains.
NR 514 Plan of Operation and Closure Plans for Landfills: The rule includes procedural requirements for initial permitting of CCR landfills. CCR landfills will be required to submit a plan of operation modification to include new plans or modifications required by the rule. The rule provides timeframes for review, notification of completeness and a public comment period. Existing landfills that fail to comply with the locational criteria for unstable areas will be required to cease placing CCR waste and close the landfill.
Also consistent with federal requirements, this chapter includes additional plan of operation requirements for CCR landfills, including a fugitive dust control plan, a run-on and run-off control plan, a closure plan and a long-term care plan. The rule language includes opportunities for public participation prior to and during the review process for various plans, including the plan modification for initial permitting. The rule removes a reference in s. NR 514.09(1)(b), Wis. Adm. Code, related to changes that are less stringent than a federally mandated requirement, because DNR approvals would need to comply with all federal requirements.
NR 520 Solid Waste Management Fees and Financial Responsibility Requirements: The rule proposes new fees for CCR landfills for annual reports and the plan of operation modification for initial permitting. The fees cover the estimated cost for DNR staff to provide plan review and approval services. This rule does not change other applicable fees.
6. Summary of, and Comparison with, Existing or Proposed Federal Statutes and Regulations: The proposed rule revisions will be consistent with federal CCR rules (40 CFR 257, Subpart D) in order for Wisconsin to seek approval of a state CCR permit program. Current portions of chs. NR 500 to 520, Wis. Adm. Code, are already consistent with federal rules or may be considered no less protective than the federal rule for CCR landfills. Final implementation of this rulemaking will include approval of the rule language and overall program by the EPA.
7. Summary of Comments Received on the Statement of Scope and How the Agency Took Those Comments into Account in Drafting the Proposed Rule: The DNR held a preliminary public hearing on the statement of scope on January 7, 2020, at the Waukesha State Office Building, 141 NW Barstow, Waukesha, WI. No members of the public attended the hearing.
The public comment period on the scope statement ended on January 14, 2020. The DNR received two written comments. One indicated support for the proposed statement of scope and the other expressed concerns regarding Wisconsin’s ability to perform better than the EPA in regulating these sites given the lack of funding and staff. Those concerns included the need to ensure environmental protections and financial assurance and providing opportunities for public input in the permitting and enforcement processes.
All comments were incorporated into rule development. Originally, the scope statement also considered creating a state permit program for managing CCR in surface impoundments, in addition to landfills. The DNR decided that surface impoundments should continue to be regulated by the EPA and did not include those provisions in this rulemaking. General information provided by industry representatives prior to scope statement development indicated that all surface impoundments will be closed within the next several years and no new surface impoundments are currently planned for Wisconsin.
Links to Admin. Code and Statutes in this Register are to current versions, which may not be the version that was referred to in the original published document.