State Beneficial use Regulations & Programs
Metalcasting sands suitable for recycling and reuse are regulated as non-hazardous solid wastes, although their environmental impacts are typically comparable to, or lower than, conventional construction materials. Under the provisions of Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), individual states hold the regulatory authority over non-hazardous solid wastes. Therefore, the extent to which metalcasting sand may be reused in a given state is dependent on the rules, regulations and decisions of the state environmental regulatory agency.
At the present time, there are no uniform national baseline regulatory levels for foundry sands. One of the motivations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foundry Sand Initiative was to suggest science-based regulatory limits for the most conservative potential uses: soils-based applications. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed a comprehensive Foundry Sand Risk Assessment, which is currently undergoing peer review. Many state regulatory agencies have indicated that they may approve additional foundry sand uses once they are able to review the Foundry Sand Risk Assessment.
State regulations for metalcasting sand vary, so it is important to determine what uses are permitted in the state in which a project is planned. In some states, typically those with many metalcasting facilities, the regulations have categories of uses that are deemed acceptable so long as the foundry sand meets baseline environmental requirements. The largest foundry states have typically moved to self-implementing permitting, where foundry generators are required to test their sands on a periodic basis, but in which projects may proceed without contacting the state regulatory agency.
Other states require case-by-case consideration, but often will expedite approvals for project uses that have previously been permitted in neighboring states. Metalcasting sand generators and their marketing partners should be familiar with the appropriate state regulatory requirements, and should be able to provide documentation, if needed, that their sands meet the appropriate regulations. Many states agencies will approve pilot or research and demonstration projects when presented with a responsible project plan.