Though EPA recognized, in 2011 that current industry practices met both of the first two criteria, industries utilizing resinated wood would need demonstrate that the levels of formaldehyde, along with other possible contaminants, were at levels comparable to those found in virgin wood. Specifically, EPA indicated that “we would not consider levels of formaldehyde of 200 ppm or slightly less to be comparable since the levels in unadulterated wood are at least two orders of magnitude lower. These levels would need to be lower to be considered comparable to those found in natural wood.” This proved to be insurmountable for composite panel manufacturers as virgin wood is at levels substantially lower than resinated wood even thought the industry, in recent years has reduced formaldehyde levels to lower than 100 ppm.
In December 2011, EPA re-examined the 2011 Identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Material (NHSM) final rule and is now proposing amendments and clarifications on resinated wood. EPA is proposing to categorically list resinated wood as not being solid waste when burned as a fuel in a combustion unit. EPA recognized that certain NHSMs may not meet the legitimacy criteria in all instances, but after balancing the legitimacy criteria with other relevant factors, the material would still generally be considered a non-waste fuel.
For composite panel producers this was certainly welcomed news. Although not classified as a traditional fuel the non-waste fuel categorization will have the same end effect. The one concern with the “non-waste designation” is that it has the potential of legal challenges that may be associated with other non-waste fuels which would create uncertainty and potential irreparable harm.
Along with the announcement of the reconsidered NHSM rule in December, 2011 developed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) EPA announced reconsidered rules under the Clean Air Act for the Major Source rule, Area Source rule and Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerator (CISWI) rule. Those are all problematic as they will impose stricter emission standards and oversight for boilers. EPA's proposals includes several changes to the Boiler MACT, including the application of new emission limits and work practice standards based on new subcategories of industrial boilers.
EPA is expected to publish these revised rules in April 2012. One of the more problematic issues will be the compliance time. EPA is giving industries a 3 year time frame from the date of publication. This would mean compliance by April 2015. Given the number of industrial boilers in the US and given the complexity of the rules a more reasonable time frame would be 5 years. See EPA website and Boiler MACT Letter