(CN) – The D.C. Circuit agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency that potassium used to clean aerospace components must be regulated as hazardous solid waste when later used in fertilizer.
Howmet Corporation argued that it should be able to sell used liquid potassium hydroxide, which it used to clean the ceramic core from metal castings in aerospace components, to a fertilizer company as a potassium additive.
The EPA claimed that the used potassium, which was corrosive and potentially contaminated with chromium, should be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., sided with the agency on a 2-1 vote. “When a material becomes contaminated, and a party seeks to use the contaminated material for a purpose substantially different from its original use by applying it to the land, the party seeking to reuse the material has an obligation to examine the material, disclose its hazardous characteristics, and treat it as a hazardous waste,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote.
Chief Judge David Sentelle and Judge Brown said the agency reasonably interpreted the law in establishing regulations to control such solid waste.
“Fertilizer is indisputably a product ‘applied to the land,'” Brown wrote. “Thus, the shipment of a corrosive material … to be used to produce fertilizer appears to be the type of activity the EPA sought to regulate under RCRA.”
Judge Brett Kavanaugh disagreed in a three-page dissent.
“Even assuming the regulations are susceptible to a range of reasonable readings, EPA’s interpretation is outside that range,” he wrote.