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Solid waste facility permits

Many types of facilities are required to get solid waste permits in Washington. We write minimum standards for solid waste handling, but local jurisdictional health departments are charged with oversight of solid waste facilities and may adopt more stringent standards than those set by Ecology.

Who regulates solid waste facilities?

As directed by RCW 70.95.060, we adopt standards for solid waste facilities, while local jurisdictional health departments (county, regional, or local health departments or districts) have primary oversight of solid waste facilities and issue permits and enforce the standards. Under RCW 70.95.160, health departments must adopt regulations that are at least as stringent as state standards, or may adopt more stringent standards. Because of this, it is important for any person or business planning to manage solid waste to first contact the health department where the facility is located to discuss local permit application standards and fees.

Permitting process

An applicant can obtain a permit application from its local health department for the county where the facility will be located. You can find procedures for applying for a solid waste facility permit in WAC 173-350-710 (except for municipal solid waste landfills). Use the permit application form created by Ecology found on the solid waste facility forms page.

Besides filling out the form, a complete permit application will typically include design, operating, environmental monitoring, and closure plans. Contact your local health department to see what permit fees to submit with permit applications.

General permit application requirements are found in WAC 173-350-715. These include a list of attachments such as vicinity maps, engineering plans, and evidence of compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act. In addition to the general permit application requirements, applicants must include attachments such as operating plans, closure plans, and in some cases, provide financial assurance. Applicants should thoroughly review the additional requirements for each solid waste management activity planned for the site. These are listed in Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards. Procedures for applying for a municipal solid waste landfill are found in WAC 173-351-720 and procedures for special incinerator ash landfills are found in WAC 173-306-310.

When a health department issues a solid waste permit, it must submit a copy of the permit to Ecology within seven days. Ecology then has 30 days to review the permit. If Ecology believes there was a problem or error in issuing the permit, the agency can appeal its issuance to the Pollution Control Hearings Board as described in Chapter 43.21B RCW.

Solid waste facilities requiring permits

Chapter 173-351 WAC, Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills, contains permit requirements for municipal solid waste landfills.

Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, contains permit requirements for:

Chapter 173-306 WAC, Special Incinerator Ash Management Standards, applies to municipal solid waste incinerator ash monofills.

Permit deferrals

Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, allows for a "Permit Deferral" under WAC 173-350-710(8). The jurisdictional health department, with the concurrence of Ecology, can waive the requirement for a solid waste permit if other air, water or environmental permits will provide an equivalent or superior level of environmental protection. A facility can apply for a deferral using the Permit Deferral Form.

Exemptions from solid waste permitting

Ecology has direct oversight for permit-exempt facilities (in contrast to permitted facilities, which are regulated by jurisdictional health departments).

  • Under Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, Ecology can grant a beneficial use exemption from permit requirements. The process and required application forms can be found at Beneficial Use Determinations.
  • Chapter 173-350 WAC, Solid Waste Handling Standards, specifies that certain solid waste facilities are exempt from solid waste permitting if they meet the requirements and operating procedures identified in the rule. These facilities include recycling, material recovery, composting, piles of waste materials, and some moderate risk waste handling activities. Consult Chapter 173-350 WAC to see whether your facility meets the conditions for the exemption, or contact Ecology staff. To assist facilities, Ecology has developed Form ECY 070-493 - Notification of Exemption from a Solid Waste Permit.

State-issued solid waste permits, licenses and certifications

Some types of solid waste permitting are handled by the state instead of local health departments: