EHS Management, Special Topics in Environmental Management

Is Your Spill a “Special” or “Hazardous” Waste?

Q: Does the “cleanup” of diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid spills consisting of small amounts (about 500 lbs with about 3 gal of liquid) of soil and absorbents need to be handled as a special or hazardous waste?

The contaminated soil and cleanup absorbents may need to be handled as either a hazardous waste or a special waste, and possibly as both.

As under the federal rules, Illinois requires generators of waste to determine if their generated waste is hazardous. In addition, the state requires waste generators to determine if their waste is also what the state calls a “special waste.” Illinois defines a “special waste” as “any hazardous waste, and any industrial process waste or pollution control waste, that has not been declassified” pursuant to the state’s special waste declassification standards.

You will need to make a hazardous waste determination on the waste in accordance with the state regulations at 35 Illinois Administrative Code (IAC) 721. If your cleanup waste is a hazardous waste, it must be managed as a hazardous waste. If it also meets the definition of “special waste” it will also be required to be managed as a special waste. If it is not a hazardous waste, it still may be considered a special waste and be required to be managed under those state regulations.

The waste you describe is likely to meet the definition of “pollution control waste,” one of the examples of a special waste. In Illinois, pollution control waste is “any liquid, solid, semi-solid or gaseous waste generated as a direct or indirect result of the removal of contaminants from the air, water or land, and which pose a present or potential threat to human health or to the environment or with inherent properties which make the disposal of such waste in a landfill difficult to manage by normal means. Pollution control waste includes, but is not limited to, water and wastewater treatment plant sludges, baghouse dusts, scrubber sludges and chemical spill cleanings.” [Emphasis added]. If a special waste, your cleanup waste will need to be classified or declassified based on your computation of its “toxic score” as specified in 35 IAC 808.245. The toxic score will determine if it is a Class A special waste or a Class B special waste which will be relevant to completion of the hazardous waste manifest which is required by Illinois for transport of all special waste, regardless of whether the special waste is hazardous.

Note that any generator of non-liquid, non-hazardous industrial-process or pollution-control waste has the potential to certify that these wastes can be disposed of as non-special waste in accordance with the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, 415 Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) 5/22.48.

In addition, note that if the spill of diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid resulted from a release from an underground storage tank (UST), you are required to remedy hazards posed by contaminated soils that are excavated or exposed as a result of release confirmation, site investigation, abatement or corrective action activities. If these remedies include treatment or disposal of soils, the UST owner and operator must comply with the requirements of 35 IAC 722, 724, 725 and 807 through 815.

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