Land Disposal Restrictions

Land Disposal Restrictions in the United States

Land Disposal Restrictions (LDRs) in Environmental Law

The prohibitions against waste disposal in, on, or under the ground that were built into the 1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. During the legislative process, Congress decided that it was time to eliminate land disposal of hazardous wastes and liquids. The amendments aggressively address this issue.

Land disposal includes not only land filling, but also placement into injection wells, salt beds, domes, or caves, land farming (spreading the waste on the ground); dumping; lagoon disposal; and similar activities. Collectively, the land disposal restrictions are commonly known as the land ban. Apparently unwilling to trust the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to generate regulations within a reasonable time, Congress composed its own list of hazardous wastes based on those listed by the state of California. It also built in its own deadlines and consequences so that the law would operate automatically. These provisions are called hammers.

Hammers work in this way: Congress tells the Environmental Protection Agency to promulgate regulations by a certain date, then specifies what rules will go into effect if the EPA has not acted by that date. Hammers place a lot of pressure on the EPA, because the automatic rules are conservative that is, they provide for more severe restrictions than the EPA would be likely to require. Thus businesses impacted by a hammer will push the agency into action, and public interest groups may also get involved. Furthermore, the EPA may be subject to a citizen suit if it fails to act.

Basically, the law prohibits land disposal of hazardous wastes that the state of California had listed in 1987, unless the EPA determines otherwise. Before the enactment of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments, California had taken the lead in determining which wastes were hazardous. The list it developed was called the “California list.” Dioxin and specified solvents were banned from land disposal, effective 1986.

Congress directed the EPA to divide all other federally listed wastes into thirds, prioritized by volume and toxicity. If the EPA did not promulgate regulations for their disposal by specified deadlines, bans would follow. For the first third, the deadline was August 1988; for the second third, June 1989; for the final third, May 1990.

Most of the land disposal restrictions built into the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments are called soft hammers: disposal of the wastes in question was allowed if the disposal facility was in technical compliance with the regulations and it certified that the disposal was the only practical alternative. But the final hammer, which followed the ban on the last third of the listed substances, was a hard hammer. It prohibited all land disposal of any of the mentioned hazardous wastes if the EPA had not completed its review and regulatory requirements.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

Land Disposal Restrictions: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Land Disposal Restrictions. This part provides references, in relation to Land Disposal Restrictions, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Land Disposal Restrictions by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Land Disposal Restrictions and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Land Disposal Restrictions or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Land Disposal Restrictions and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Land Disposal Restrictions. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Land Disposal Restrictions should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Land Disposal Restrictions when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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