Thinking about Changes to the Hazardous Waste Manifest, EPA is

In a notice of proposed information collection request published on February 8, the EPA has indicated that it is considering revisions to the RCRA Hazardous Waste Manifest, both electronic (“e-Manifest”) and paper versions. EPA invites and will accept comments on proposed changes to the manifest document through April 9, 2019.

The suggested changes include:

  • additional options for reporting waste quantities, using decimal numbers and alternative units of measure;
  • additional items for international shipments, such as including a separate data field for import/export consent numbers and making sure both the generator and exporter EPA ID numbers, if different, are captured on the manifest, and adding information from the Movement Document to the manifest;
  • providing source and form code and density information on the (paper) manifest document to integrate better with the biennial hazardous waste report.

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Oil Spill Prevention: Understanding the Memorandum of Understanding

(Or, where DOT ended, EPA begins!)

A recurring question often arises when we prepare Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans for clients who load or unload tankers, deliver oils to customer locations, or maintain a fleet of tanker trucks or railroad cars that may or may not remain at their facilities for a time. Are these road or rail tankers subject to SPCC requirements when they’re parked at the facility? And so, do we need to count the tanker capacity when determining if the SPCC rule even applies?

The answer is complicated (of course). It requires an understanding of when or if the truck or rail tanker ceases to be “transportation-related” equipment subject to regulation by the Department of Transportation and instead should be considered “non-transportation-related” equipment addressed by the EPA’s Oil Pollution Prevention rules (40 CFR Part 112).

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Waters of the US: A New Hope

On December 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) proposed a revised definition for “waters of the United States,” intended to establish the scope of federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act in a more clear and understandable way. With the understanding that the federal role under the Clean Water Act is  derived from Congress’ commerce power over navigation, the proposal attempts to limit “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act to those that are physically and meaningfully connected to traditional “navigable” waters.

Six (6) categories of waters that would be considered “waters of the United States” are described:
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Defining “Waters of the US” – A Continuing Saga

On July 12, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers continued the seemingly interminable project to construct a working, regulatory definition of “Waters of the United States” (or, WOTUS) for various environmental regulatory programs administered under Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This “supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking” purports “to clarify, supplement and seek additional comment” on the July 2017 proposal to repeal the 2015 Rule Defining Waters of the United States” which amended previously existing sections of the CFR that the 2015 Rule sought, well, to clarify.

The current proposal, if finalized, will repeal the 2015 Rule and restore the text that existed before publication of the 2015 Rule, “as informed by guidance in effect at that time.” EPA has previously (February 2018) published a rule extending the applicability date of the 2015 Rule to February 2020, and implementation of the 2015 Rule has been stayed by judicial proceedings, so in effect we’ve been working with the preexisting text, informed by EPA’s prior guidance, since that time.

Meanwhile, whether groundwater can ever be considered “Waters of the US” under whatever rules are in place continues to be a hot topic.

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Hazardous Substance Spill Prevention: The Proposed Action is No Action at all!

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its proposed rulemaking pertaining to the issuance of regulations for the prevention of spills or releases of Clean Water Act (CWA) hazardous substances. The proposal, published in the June 25 Federal Register, concludes that no additional regulatory requirements are necessary at this time.

EPA’s review of whether to propose new regulations to prevent releases of hazardous substances was prompted by a 2015 lawsuit that charged EPA with failure to comply with its duty under CWA Section 311 to issue regulations for the prevention and control of hazardous substance spills from on-shore facilities. A February 2016 Consent Agreement established a schedule for EPA to sign “a notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to the issuance of the Hazardous Substance regulations” and take final action after notice
and comment.

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Once In, Always In… Isn’t!

On January 25, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a guidance memorandum withdrawing the “once in always in” policy for the classification of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under section 112 of the Clean Air Act. With the new guidance, sources of hazardous air pollutants previously classified as “major sources” may be reclassified as “area” sources when the facility limits its potential to emit below major source thresholds. Sounds logical, right?

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Nanotechnology and TSCA Reporting

(Resisting the urge to make an obscure Mork and Mindy reference – or an even more obscure mention of Fantastic Voyage…)

EPA has issued guidance on complying with the new Nanotechnology Reporting and Recordkeeping Rule, published in January with an effective date that has been extended to August 14, 2017. The rule establishes one-time reporting and recordkeeping requirements for certain chemical substances when they are manufactured or processed at the nanoscale (i.e., materials that are solids at standard temperature and pressure; that are manufactured or processed in a form where any particles, including aggregates and agglomerates, are in the size range of 1-100 nanometers – that’s one to one hundred billionths of a meter – in at least one dimension) for the purpose of demonstrating one or more unique, size-dependent properties that would not be present in larger materials. Reporting for existing nanomaterials that have been manufactured or processed in the three years prior to the effective date will be due by August 14, 2018.

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ISO 14001:2015 – Time, Gentlemen!

The 2015 revisions to ISO 14001 International Standard, Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, become mandatory in September 2018. An organization that has obtained certification to the standard for its environmental management system (EMS) should update the EMS as needed to conform to the revised requirements at least six months to one year in advance of the effective date. So, if you’ve been putting off review of your EMS and its conformance to the “new” standard, the time to get to that is… now!

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Rolling Back the Definition of “Waters of the US”: Good Move or Bad?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers are set to roll back the regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” according to a proposal published on June 27. The definition was amended under the controversial 2015 “Clean Water Rule”, which critics charged would extend federal regulatory protection to isolated ponds and wetlands, usually dry depressions with no conceivable connection to interstate waterways, even puddles formed in a heavy rain. The 2015 rule has been stayed since October of that year, so the definition previously in place has remained in effect. This proposed rule will re-codify the previous definition as it existed prior to the 2015 rulemaking.

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Florida’s Public Notice of Pollution Rule – What It Requires

In late summer 2016, Florida’s environmental tranquillity was shattered by two high-profile events: The failure of a gypsum stack liner at the Mosaic Fertilizer plant in New Wales led to a loss of wastewater, potentially contaminating groundwater; and discharges of domestic wastewater from City of St. Petersburg facilities to Tampa Bay (granted, these incidents paled in comparison to the potential catastrophe threatened a month later by Hurricane Matthew’s dance along the state’s eastern shore, but at least we had people to blame). In response, the state issued an emergency rule requiring enhanced public notice of pollution incidents. The rule required that a responsible party notify the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), local government and general public of a “pollution incident” within 24 hours of discovery.

The Florida legislature has now codified the Public Notice of Pollution requirements at Section 403.077, Florida Statutes, effective July 1, 2017. The statutory requirement addresses what were the two issues of contention raised in the emergency rule: What is “pollution” and what are the threshold amounts that trigger the notification requirements?

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