Hazardous Waste Operations

Top 10 Problems with EPA’s Proposed Hazwaste Generator Rule, cont’d

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed what it calls the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements on September 25, 2015. An extended comment period closed December 24, 2015. The Agency has received over 230 comments on the proposal. The Advisor reviewed a number of them and will give you the gist of what people are saying about the proposed amendments to hazardous waste generator requirements. All the comments can be reviewed at regulations.gov.

Note. The EPA has proposed renaming conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs) to very small quantity generators (VSQGs). This can be confusing when reading the comments because some commenters use the current CESQG term, while others use the proposed VSQG term. This article will use the proposed VSQG term.

Top 10 Problems with EPA’s Proposed Hazardous Waste Generator Rule

There are numerous changes in EPA’s proposal. In reviewing comments by industry and industry groups, there appears to be the great concern surrounding ten specific issues. Yesterday we reviewed comments concerning waste determination, conditions for exemption, and sending VSQG waste to large quantity generators (LQGs). Today we will review industry comments concerning labeling, SQG and LQG notification requirements, episodic events, and arrangements with first responders.

6. Labeling

The EPA has proposed significant additions to container marking and labeling requirements. Current container labeling rules call for the date that the storage period began and the words “Hazardous Waste” for containers in central accumulation areas. In satellite accumulation areas, containers may be marked with other identifying words in lieu of the words “Hazardous Waste.”

The proposed changes include keeping the requirements for the accumulation start date and the words “Hazardous Waste” and adding label requirements to include:

  • Other identifying words such as the name of the chemical or the Department of Transportation (DOT) shipping name;
  • An indication of the hazards of the contents, such as “ignitable;” and
  • The applicable hazardous waste codes when the containers are shipped off-site.

Most industry comments concerning the additional labeling requirements centered around “why.” They contend that the additional labeling not only would not be beneficial, but it would also cause confusion with the DOT and with OSHA’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS) labeling requirements. One group of commenters call EPA’s approach “haphazard” and asked that consideration be given to the negative aspects of providing more information, including confusion, inconsistency with other requirements, and inefficiencies in work practices.

7. Renotification requirements

The EPA would require that LQGs and SQGs renotify the EPA of hazardous waste activities using EPA Form 8700-12 on a regular basis (February 1 of even-numbered years for SGQs and March 1 of even-numbered years for LQGs). An LQG would be allowed to submit the renotification with its biennial report. Comments included that LQGs already provide updated information to the EPA in the biennial reports. Comments concerning SQGs requirements to renotify generally said that they should only be required to renotify the EPA in the event of a change in ownership or operational status (e.g., to LQG or VSQG or a cessation of operations). In addition, commenters think that the SQG renotification period should be 60 to 90 days.

8. LQG closure requirements

The EPA has proposed that generator closure requirements be expanded, in part, to apply to LQGs that accumulate hazardous waste in containers, in the same manner as that they apply to other accumulation units such as tanks, drip pads, and containment buildings.  The Agency also proposed that LQGs give notice 30 days before and within 90 days after the closure of hazardous waste accumulation units.

A number of commenters strongly opposed adding closure requirements for containers, in part, because they are portable. LQGs would be required to determine every place the container was present and either ensure it was clean or close it under the same requirements as those for a landfill.

9. Episodic events

The EPA is proposing to allow a VSQG or an SQG to maintain its existing generator status in the event of either a planned or an unplanned episodic event in which the VSQG or SQG generates a quantity of hazardous waste in a calendar month that would otherwise bump the generator into a more stringent regulatory category. The generator would be allowed to take advantage of this provision only once in a calendar year.

Several commenters proposed that this be allowed at least twice a calendar year—once for a planned event and once for an unplanned episode. Many also proposed that the storage limitation for episodic events be extended to 60 calendar days.

10. Arrangements with first responders

The proposal would require that LQGs and SQGs not only attempt to make arrangements with first responders but to actually make these arrangements with local emergency planning commissions (LEPCs). In addition, LQGs would be required to review contingency plans and immediately make amendments and submit them to LEPCs. Facilities would also be required to generate summaries of their contingency plans and submit these to local responders.

Commenters contend that this is overkill for those facilities that are required to coordinate with first responders under other regulations such as EPCRA and the RMP. Some commenters pointed out that no matter what the generator attempts, it may not be able to make the arrangements because of unwillingness on the part of the emergency responders. Commenters also pointed out that most emergency responders are not going to read the summaries and don’t want to be tasked with maintaining such materials.

Follow the progression of EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements rule on Enviro.BLR.com® where you will find all the information and tools you need to manage hazardous waste at your facility.