EPA Finalizes Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

On November 28, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal register the final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. This regulation amends the requirements governing hazardous waste generators under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Even though EPA states that the new regulation was needed to improve clarity and flexibility of hazardous waste generator requirements, the rule will add regulatory burdens, including new recordkeeping, labeling and notification requirements, with minimal benefit to human health or the environment.

According to EPA, the rule finalizes a much-needed update to the hazardous waste generator regulations to make the rules “easier to understand, facilitate better compliance, provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed, and close important gaps in the regulations.” In addition, the rule enhances the safety of facilities, employees, and the general public by improving hazardous waste risk communication and ensuring that emergency management requirements meet today’s needs.

According to EPA, the final rule provides approximately 60 changes to the hazardous waste generator regulations, including the following:

  • Allowing very small quantity generators (VSQGs), i.e., those who generate 100 kilograms or less of hazardous waste per month or one kilogram or less of acutely hazardous waste, to send hazardous waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) that is under the control of the same person and consolidate it there before sending it on to management at a RCRA-designated facility, provided certain conditions are met. VSQGs replaces the term, “conditionally exempt small quantity generators,” in the final rule.

  • Allowing a VSQG or a small quantity generator (SQG), i.e., those who generate more than 100 kilograms of hazardous waste, but less than 1,000 kilograms per month, to maintain its existing generator category in the case of an episodic event that would otherwise bump the generator into a more stringent generator regulatory category. Generators are limited to one episodic event per calendar year, and may petition for another under certain conditions.

  • Requiring notification for SQGs every four years, as opposed to a one-time notification under the current federal system. States with more frequent notification requirements can retain their existing requirements.

  • Improving risk communication by revising the regulations for labeling and marking of containers and tanks to indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste contained inside.

  • Reorganizing the hazardous waste generator regulations by moving VSQG regulations from 40 CFR ยง 261.5 into 40 CFR part 262, where the regulations for SQGs and LQGs are located. Other generator requirements that were currently located in other parts of the hazardous waste standards were also moved into 40 CFR part 262 to replace the current lists of cross references.

  • Making some revisions to the requirements applicable to satellite accumulation for hazardous waste.

  • Revising the regulations for completing the RCRA biennial report to be consistent with the current instructions distributed with the form. Recycling facilities must now report wastes that are not stored prior to recycling.

  • Revising generator requirements for closure of hazardous waste units, waste determinations, submission of contingency plans, and other emergency preparedness and prevention areas.

  • Making technical corrections to update and correct the existing regulations.

In response to public comments, EPA did not finalize certain proposed changes. These include documentation of non-hazardous waste determinations; maintaining hazardous waste determinations until the facility closes; notification to the state or EPA of closure of a waste accumulation unit at a facility; requiring labeling hazardous waste units with the contents of the container; certain revisions to the drip pad requirements; and documentation of weekly inspections.

The rule will be effective on May 30, 2017. For non-authorized RCRA states (Alaska, Iowa, the Indian Nations, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, N. Mariana and US Virgin Islands), the rule will go into effect on May 30, 2017. States with RCRA-authorized programs will have to adopt rules and get authorized for the new provisions.  These states are only required to adopt the provisions in this final rule that are more stringent than the current RCRA regulations.

More information on the final rule is available on EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/final-rule-hazardous-waste-generator-improvements. If you have any questions or would like additional information on this final rule, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.




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