How to Participate in MassDEP Hazardous Waste Permitting Decisions

MassDEP seeks input from the public - including individuals, communities, and groups - before it issues certain types of hazardous waste management permits or approvals.

Either when a proponent applies for a hazardous waste license or permit, or before MassDEP makes a final decision, the agency accepts public comment on the proposal for a specific period of time. In some cases, MassDEP also schedules a public hearing or meeting so it can provide additional project information and/or receive public feedback. Learn more:

► Hazardous Waste Facilities and Processes

► Hazardous Waste Transportation

The information on this page is intended to help you understand how and when you can be part of the review and decision-making process. Also see: MassDEP Public Hearings & Comment Opportunities and Levels of MassDEP Oversight

Hazardous Waste Facilities and Processes

Permit Category & Explanation:

Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, or Disposal Facility License or Renewal

A proposal for a new hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility in Massachusetts must undergo extensive review by several state and local agencies. Steps in the process include:

  • Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs;
  • Site Assignment reviews and determinations by the local Board of Health and the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Site Safety Council (currently represented by MassDEP);
  • Development of a Siting Agreement between the facility developer and the “Local Assessment Committee” of the host municipality; and
  • Issuance of a Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage or Disposal Facility License by MassDEP.

There are opportunities for public involvement at every step of this process. As part of its review of a new facility license application, MassDEP provides opportunities for the public to comment on a draft license or proposed license denial. The agency considers public comments before making a final determination. There also are opportunities for the public to comment when new facility proposals undergo MEPA and Site Assignment review, in each case provided by the state or municipal reviewing agency.

MassDEP hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility licenses are issued for terms of five years. A facility owner/operator must apply to renew an existing license for another five years before the initial term expires. Unless the renewal involves expansion of the facility, neither MEPA nor Site Assignment review are required. Similarly, if the renewal does not require changes in the initial Siting Agreement between the facility developer and the host community's Local Assessment Committee, the initial Siting Agreement remains in place. See Additional Resources below to learn more.

Notice/Comment Public Hearing
45 days A informal public hearing may be scheduled at MassDEP discretion or upon request through the Hazardous Waste Management Program in Boston (617-654-6585).

Permit Category & Explanation:

Treatment, Storage or Disposal Facility Class II or III Modification

During the five-year period of its MassDEP license, a hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility may need to revise the license to allow for changes in the business. If the facility intends to significantly change its hazardous waste operations - by accepting different types of wastes or install new processing equipment or storage tanks, for example - it must apply for a Class II or Class III Modification approval from MassDEP. See Additional Resources below to learn more.

Please Note: Class I Modifications, used to inform MassDEP of minor revisions such as updated emergency contact names, are not subject to agency review or public comment.

Notice/Comment Public Hearing
60 days An informal public hearing is required for both modification categories.

Permit Category & Explanation:

Hazardous Waste or Precious Metals Recycling Permit, Renewal or Modification

These permits authorize and set conditions for recycling of certain hazardous wastes as an alternative to disposal. See Additional Resources below to learn more.

Notice/Comment Public Hearing
At least 30 days Scheduled at MassDEP discretion in most cases, although required under certain circumstances. See Section 30.296(3)(g) of the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Regulations.

Additional Resources for Hazardous Waste Facilities and Processes

Hazardous Waste Transportation

Permit Categories & Explanation:

Hazardous Waste Transporter License
Precious Metals Transporter License

The Hazardous Waste Transporter  license authorizes qualified parties to transport hazardous waste or waste oil from the businesses generating them to authorized treatment, storage and disposal facilities. The Precious Metals Transporter license allows the transport of regulated recyclable precious metals from the businesses generating them to appropriate recycling facilities. These licenses protect public health, safety and the environment by ensuring that companies are qualified and competent to transport these materials. MassDEP licensing review includes assessments of insurance coverage, driver training and emergency response preparedness. See Additional Resources below to learn more.

Notice/Comment Public Hearing
41 days Scheduled at MassDEP discretion and may be requested through the Hazardous Waste Transporter Program in Boston (617-292-5576).

Permit Category & Explanation:

Modification of Transporter License

An already-licensed hazardous waste and/or regulated recyclable precious metals transporter can make changes to facility name, address or contact information, or make other administrative changes to its existing license, with this application and not have to apply for a new license. See Additional Resources below to learn more.

Notice/Comment Public Hearing
21 days Scheduled at MassDEP discretion and may be requested through the Hazardous Waste Transporter Program in Boston (617-292-5576).

Additional Resources for Hazardous Waste Transportation

Levels of MassDEP Oversight

MassDEP regulates facilities of varying sizes and complexity in different ways:

  • Large, complicated operations are required to obtain project- or site-specific permits or approvals before they can be built and/or begin operating.
  • Many smaller facilities and simpler processes are subject to general permits that contain specific performance standards established by regulation.
  • Other operations are required to periodically report data to MassDEP and/or certify to the agency that they are complying with the environmental requirements that apply to them.

While there are no public notice or comment periods associated with facilities subject to general permits or reporting/certification requirements, most of the documents they submit to MassDEP are available for public inspection at the agency's regional offices.

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