5 Things to Know About Episodic Hazardous Waste Generation

With the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, EPA provided relief for so-called “episodic hazardous waste generation” events – occasions when a facility that is usually a small quantity generator (SQG) or a very small quantity generator (VSQG, formerly conditionally exempt small quantity generator) of hazardous waste generates more than its monthly limits, potentially elevating the facility into a higher generator category.

Now that the rule change has passed and been adopted by many states (including Florida, Georgia and Alabama), your facility may be able to maintain its normal generator status in the event of a one-time exceedance of your monthly threshold (i.e., 100 kilograms or 220 pounds per month for VSQGs, 1,000 kilos per month for SQGs with more limited thresholds for listed, “acute” hazardous waste). The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule established criteria (at 40 CFR 262, Subpart L) for episodic generation of hazardous waste that allow you to continue to comply with the rules applicable to your usual generator status.

Here are 5 key things to keep in mind when dealing with an episodic hazardous waste generation event.

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Don’t Flush Those Drugs! Rules for Managing (Waste) Pharmaceuticals

On February 22, EPA published new rules for management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that will affect healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, dentist offices, nursing care facilities, veterinary clinics, outpatient care centers, pharmacies and drug stores, even supermarkets, that generate, accumulate, or otherwise handle prescription pharmaceuticals. The rule becomes effective six months from the publication date, or on August 21, 2019.

Some pharmaceuticals are regulated as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when discarded. The new rule creates a regulatory program – part 266 subpart P in Chapter 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations – for the management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals by healthcare facilities (including veterinary) and reverse distributors (e.g., of unused or expired drugs).

Healthcare facilities and reverse distributors will manage their hazardous waste pharmaceuticals under this new set of sector-specific standards rather than the regulations that apply to hazardous waste generators, generally. Manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, however, cannot use these alternative standards, except for their reverse distribution activities.

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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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DC Court Shreds EPA Solid Waste Recycling Rule

The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has vacated provisions of EPA’s 2015 Definition of Solid Waste Rule which addressed recycling of hazardous secondary materials (i.e., spent materials, byproducts and sludges). The court’s majority took issue with (1) one of four tests to demonstrate that recycling by or under the control of the generator was legitimate, and not a “sham” effort to disguise disposal, and (2) the “Verified Recycler Exclusion”, which excluded recyclable secondary materials from the definition of solid waste and therefore from regulation as hazardous waste, provided that the recycling facility has a hazardous waste facility permit or a variance from permit requirements granted by EPA or the State.

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Generator Improvement Rule: Relief for Hazardous Waste Generators?

Well, certainly some relief for the very little ones – what we used to call “conditionally exempt small quantity generators” – henceforth (or beginning on the effective date of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016) to be known as Very Small Quantity Generators or VSQGs.

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvement Rule, which EPA describes as the culmination of a review that began over 10 years ago, is meant to “improve program effectiveness, reduce compliance costs, and foster an improved relationship with states and the regulated communities.”

The final rule contains a number of provisions which EPA identifies as “more stringent”, including marking and labeling of wastes to identify hazards, Small Quantity Generator recertification, notification of facility closure and requirement that a Large Quantity Generator close as a landfill if it cannot meet closure standards, extending biennial reporting for the whole year rather than just months when the facility was an LQG, biennial reporting for recyclers even when they do not store waste prior to recycling, and a requirement that LQGs provide a “quick reference guide” for distribution with their Contingency Plans. “More stringent” standards must be adopted by states that manage their own hazardous waste programs.

The rule also contains “less stringent” provisions, of a kind that may elicit appreciative nods from industries. These address (1) consolidation of VSQG waste at a LQG facility under the same ownership; (2) allowing VSQGs and SQGs to retain their classification in the event that “episodic generation” would bump them up to a higher generator category; and (3) waiver from the requirement that ignitable and reactive wastes be stored at least 50 feet from a facility’s property line under certain circumstances.

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As Time Goes By… the Hazardous Waste Biennial Report Comes Due!

image: waste containers

Um, yeah, this may not be the best example of drum storage…

Once again, the March 1 deadline looms for large quantity generators of hazardous waste as well as facilities that treated, stored or disposed of hazardous waste on-site to submit their hazardous waste biennial reports to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

If in any month in 2013 your facility

  • generated more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds, or about four to five 55-gallon barrels) of RCRA hazardous waste,
  • generated or accumulated more than 1 kg of acute hazardous waste, or
  • generated or accumulated more than 100 kg of spill cleanup material contaminated with acute hazardous waste,

then you are a RCRA Large Quantity Generator (LQG) and must complete and file the 2013 Hazardous Waste Report. Hazardous wastes imported to your facility from a foreign country should be included in your generator count.

And if in 2013 your facility treated, stored or disposed of hazardous wastes on-site as a permitted hazardous waste facility, you must complete and file the 2013 report.

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