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Regulatory Alert: New Rules for Hazardous Waste Generators

On May 30, 2017, EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule became effective in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Iowa, Alaska, and some U.S. Territories, requiring hazardous waste generators in these states and territories to be in compliance with the new requirements immediately.  Hazardous wastes are regulated under U.S. EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which requires that waste streams be characterized and, if hazardous (i.e. ignitable, corrosive, reactive or toxic), managed under stringent “cradle to grave” requirements which include labeling, manifesting, storage/handling, and employee training.  EPA’s Improvements Rule is intended to provide some regulatory relief to generators of small quantities of hazardous waste.

The new requirements will not be effective in the other 46 states until the regulations are adopted and state regulations are approved by EPA.  Regulatory agencies in these states have until July 1, 2018 to adopt regulations if legislation is not required to update regulations, and July 1, 2019 where legislation is required.  However, some states plan to update regulations well before July 2018.

Key Provisions of the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

There are over 60 changes to hazardous waste regulations with the new rule.  The new rule re-organizes hazardous waste generator regulations and provides clarification of requirements for generators.  The more significant regulatory changes are identified below by generator category.  A Generator Categories Reference is provided at the end of the article as a guide to generator status.  State regulatory agencies are not required to adopt the provisions in the new rule that are less strict than current regulations.  (Less stringent regulations are noted below.)

Very Small Quantity Generator (previous called Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator) Regulatory Changes

  • Episodic generation of hazardous waste (planned or unplanned) is allowed without changing generator status. One episodic event per year is allowed, with the ability to petition for a second, as long as specified provisions are followed. (Less stringent than previous regulations.)
  • Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) are allowed to ship hazardous waste to Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) under the control of the same person, as long as specified conditions are met. (Less stringent than previous regulations.)

Small Quantity Generator Regulatory Changes

  • Episodic generation is allowed as noted above for VSQGs. (Less stringent than previous regulations.)
  • Generation may have unlimited Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAA), storing up to one 55-gallon drum of generated waste at a time. When filled the generator has 3 days to move to a Central Accumulation Area (CAA).
  • Generator must label containers one they reach the Central Accumulation Area (CAA). They have up to 90 days to store waste within the CAA.
  • Additional marking and labeling of containers and tanks to clearly indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste is required.
  • Marking RCRA waste codes and manifest number, prior to shipment, is the generator’s responsibility.
  • RCRA Subtitle C re-notification (Form 8700-12) is required every four years beginning 2021.
  • Emergency response and contingency planning provisions may include Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) among those to make response arrangements with.
  • Generators must document that they have made an attempt to make arrangements with local emergency responders.
  • Documentation of emptying hazardous waste storage tanks every 180 days is required.
  • Biennial reporting is required for recyclers who don’t have a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) storage permit.

Large Quantity Generator Regulatory Changes

  • LQGs can accept VSQG waste if the facility is under the control of same person, as long as it is reported using EPA Form 8700-12 and records of shipments are maintained on-site as required. (Less stringent than previous regulations.)
  • Generation may have unlimited Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAA), storing up to one 55-gallon drum of generated waste at a time. When filled the generator has 3 days to move to a Central Accumulation Area (CAA).
  • Generator must label containers one they reach the Central Accumulation Area (CAA). They have up to 90 days to store waste within the CAA.
  • Marking of waste accumulation areas.
  • Generators may petition for a waiver from the 50-feet from property line requirement for ignitable or reactive waste. (Less stringent than previous regulations.)
  • Additional marking and labeling of containers and tanks to clearly indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste is required.
  • Marking RCRA waste codes and manifest number, prior to shipment, is the generator’s responsibility.
  • Emergency response and contingency planning provisions may include LEPCs among those to make response arrangements with.
  • Generators must document that they have made an attempt to make arrangements with local emergency responders.
  • New LQGs and those otherwise updating their Contingency Plans must submit a Quick Reference Guide to local responders.
  • Additional closure requirements include notification before and after closure, and a provision that if a facility managing containers cannot clean close it must close as a landfill.
  • Documentation of a waste generation log needs to be kept at point of generation.
  • Documentation of emptying hazardous waste storage tanks every 90 days is required.
  • Biennial reporting is required for recyclers who do not have a RCRA storage permit.

Generator Status Reference Guide

HAZARDOUS WASTE GENERATOR CATEGORIES REFERENCE

Generator Status Amount of hazardous waste generated per month
Very Small Quantity Generator ≤ 220 lb. hazardous waste and ≤ 2.2 lb. acutely hazardous waste
Small Quantity Generator >220 lbs. and < 2,200 lbs. hazardous waste, and ≤ 2.2 lb. acutely hazardous waste
Large Quantity Generator ≥2,200 lbs. hazardous waste, or > 2.2 lbs. acutely hazardous waste

* Please note that CA, D.C., KS, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, RI, WA have different category distinctions.

About the Author

This regulatory alert was prepared by Julie Galbraith, Compliance Specialist at Liberty Environmental. From gap analysis and training to updated contingency plans, quick reference guide development, and RCRA notification and Biennial Report preparation, Julie and members of Liberty’s team of environmental compliance consultants welcome the opportunity to support your environmental regulatory compliance needs.