According to the EPA, anyone who ships hazardous wastes off-site needs to comply with both EPA’s training requirements for generators and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) requirements for training hazardous materials employees. The generator’s certification language on the manifest is essentially the same certification language that the DOT refers to as the “shipper’s certification.”
DOT’s hazardous materials regulations assume that the person signing the shipper’s certification will have personal knowledge of the facts regarding a waste and its proper preparation for transportation. The shipper’s certification requirements for hazardous materials (including hazardous waste) apply to each person who “offers” a hazardous material for transportation.
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The DOT has made it clear in its interpretations of the term “offeror” that this term extends to any person who actually performs the steps required to prepare a hazardous material for transportation. The person actually performing these steps could therefore certify to these facts based on their knowledge. The EPA interprets its regulation on use of the manifest to mean that any representative of a generator that signs the generator’s certification on behalf of the generator must similarly have actual knowledge of the facts specified in the generator’s certification.
Is the Person Who Signs the Manifest Liable?
The answer is yes. Anyone who signs a manifest should not be cavalier about it. According to the EPA, while it is more typical for the company represented by the signor to be the subject of enforcement actions, in some situations (e.g., egregious or criminal violations), the signor could be held personally liable.
Hazardous Waste: Best Practices for Complying with the EPA’s e-Manifest Requirements
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What Should a Manifest Signor Know?
Anyone responsible for signing a hazardous waste manifest, be it paper or electronic, must be trained in how to properly complete a manifest. This person must:
- Understand why manifests are important and know how they function to provide accurate information and tracking data for generators, transporters, receiving facilities, and regulators;
- Know how to properly complete a manifest, including how to fill in all blocks on the form, using the correct DOT shipping names and terminology; and
- Understand the tracking system for hazardous wastes, including how the parts of the 6-part manifest form are distributed.
Tip: Failure to use the proper DOT terminology is a common source of errors on hazardous waste manifests and can lead to confusion in the transportation and disposal chain.