The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) provides a systematic structure for managing hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies hazardous waste generators as any person, by site, whose processes or actions create hazardous waste. Generators are separated into three categories based upon the quantity of hazardous waste they produce:
· Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) generate 1,000 kilograms per month or more of hazardous waste, more than 1 kilogram per month of acutely hazardous waste, or more than 100 kilograms per month of acute spill residue or soil.
· Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) generate more than 100 kilograms, but less than 1,000 kilograms, of hazardous waste per month.
· Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs) generate 100 kilograms or less per month of hazardous waste, or 1 kilogram or less per month of acutely hazardous waste, or less than 100 kilograms per month of acute spill residue or soil.
Hazardous waste as defined in 40 CFR 261.3 is a solid waste that is not specifically excluded as a hazardous waste and falls within two distinct categories:
· It is a listed hazardous waste in Subpart D of 40 CFR 261; or
· It is a characteristic hazardous waste, which is not a listed waste, but that exhibit ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.
Prior to the storage, treatment or disposal of any waste a determination whether the material is hazardous or nonhazardous is required by 40 CFR 262.11. The generator characterizes hazardous waste based on the aforementioned criteria. If the characteristics of the waste is unidentifiable through available information, including material safety data sheets (MSDS) or other data, testing may be required.
If onsite treatment eliminates the hazardous characteristics, the material may no longer be considered a hazardous waste. Documentation of this process and the volume of the material must be maintained. Other regulations regarding treatment may apply and a thorough review of treatment process and resultant by-products is recommended. Additionally, State requirements for onsite treatment that eliminates hazardous characteristics may be more stringent than RCRA regulatory requirements.
General Management for Hazardous Wastes
Each site where non-exempt hazardous waste is generated is required to obtain its own site specific EPA hazardous waste generator identification (ID) number. The issuance of the ID number may be processed through the State if authorized by the EPA.
A LQG may accumulate hazardous waste on-site for 90 days or less without obtaining a permit or without having interim status, provided that the facility complies with the management standards in Part 265. A SQG may accumulate up to 6,000 kg of hazardous waste for 180 days or less without obtaining a permit or without having interim status, provided that the facility complies with 40 CFR 262.34(d). If the SQG waste shipment is transported off-site for disposal in excess of 200 miles, the waste can be stored onsite for a maximum of 270 days. The time period for waste accumulation begins on the day accumulation first begins and containers must be marked with date accumulation first begins. All accumulation containers must be clearly labeled as “hazardous waste”.
A 30-day accumulation extension for the EPA Regional Administrator or the State RCRA program coordinator is available for each of the 90-day, 180-day, and 270-day accumulation periods, if uncontrolled or unforeseen circumstances prohibit ship of the waste within the allotted time frame.
Facilities may accumulate up to 55 gallons of hazardous waste or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste in a satellite accumulation area at or near the area where the waste is initially generated and removed to the main hazardous waste storage area or transport the waste off site within three days of reaching the maximum quantity allowable. Satellite accumulation containers must have appropriate labeling and the operator must maintain the container in good condition in accordance with 40 CFR 262.34(c).
A CESQG is not subject to the management standards provided in 40 CFR Parts 262 through 270 assuming they do not generate more than 100 kilograms or less per month of hazardous waste, or 1 kilogram or less per month of acutely hazardous waste, or less than 100 kilograms per month of acute spill residue or soil. Hazardous wastes must be sent to a facility property licensed or authorized to manage hazardous waste.
Each site for LQG, SQGs, and CESQGs should maintain a log or tracking of the generation per month. Maintaining a log is not required; however, it is the most reliable method to determine and document what is generated each month.
Preparation for shipping of hazardous waste off site for treatment, storage, or disposal requires marking, labeling, and placarding the waste according to US Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. Additional DOT requirements for shipment of the waste are located in 49 CFR Parts 172 through 179. The shipment must include the properly completed Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest signed by the generator, the transporter, if different than the generator and the receiving facility upon receipt of the shipment.
The statement on the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest must state:
I certify that the waste minimization statement identified in 40 CFR 262.27(a) (if I am a large quantity generator) or (b) (if I am a small quantity generator) is true.
Record Keeping and Reporting
A generator must keep a copy of each manifest signed in accordance with §262.23(a) for three years or until the generator receives a signed copy from the designated facility which received the waste. The signed copy must be retained as a record for at least three years from the date the waste was accepted by the initial transporter.
LQGs and SQGs that ship hazardous waste off site must submit a Biennial Report to EPA each even numbered year. The report compiles data concerning waste shipped off site, where the waste was shipped and the manner in which the waste was treated, among other information. The Biennial Report must be retained for three years from the due date of the report.
The generator also must keep records of test results, waste analyses, and other determinations performed in accordance with §262.11 for a minimum of three years.
RCRA mandates, where feasible, that the generation of hazardous waste is to be reduced or eliminated as expeditiously as possible (RCRA §1003(b)). A Waste Minimization Program is required for LQGs while all generators are also included in the mandate
Small quantity generators must make a good faith effort to minimize waste generation and select the best waste management method that is available and affordable.
This article was authored by William Chambers, Acacia Environmental Group LLC. For more information on the author see here.