Hazardous Waste Determination – The Foundation for Waste Compliance

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Proper waste determinations are the foundation for waste compliance; failure to perform them properly can lead to cascading violations.  Generators commonly fail to document hazardous waste determinations from the point of generation for each solid waste stream (as required by 40 CFR 262.11).  This is a frequent citation in RCRA enforcement and observation during compliance audits.

USEPA has updated the 1994 version of Waste Analysis Plan Guidance. This guidance is helpful in understanding regulatory requirements and USEPA intent regard the obligation each solid waste generator has to document a hazardous waste determination.

One tool provided in the new guidance document is a checklist for evaluating waste determinations using acceptable knowledge (i.e. without having waste analysis).  Another consists of tips for using the Safety Data Sheet to support a waste determination.  Appendix F also provides a number of key considerations, including several that are important for generators.

Another issue that arises is whether the generator needs to document the waste determination.  Regulation and USEPA guidance make it plain that these must be documented, and reviewed annually or more often, with records kept for 3 years.  A CESQG especially needs to do this documentation because they rely on proper determinations to assure they stay below the 100 kilogram/month threshold and avoid additional regulatory burdens as a Small Quantity Generator.

For each solid waste stream, regulations require that the generator must determine if the waste is:

  1. Excluded from regulation under 40 CFR 261.4 as not a solid waste.
  2. Listed as a hazardous waste in Subpart D of 40 CFR part 261.
  3. Identified in Subpart C of 40 CFR part 261 with a hazard characteristic by:
    1. Testing the waste using standard or approved methods, or
    2. Applying knowledge of the hazard characteristic of the waste in light of the materials or the processes used.
  4. Excluded or restricted under parts 261, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, and 273.

The Point of Generation is where the waste determination should be made, rather than after waste is moved to storage, exposed to the elements, or mixed with other materials.  Hazardous waste is not regulated until it exits the unit in which it was generated or remains within a shutdown unit for more than 90 days.

Basis for Determination – The generator should document waste determinations for each waste stream coming from each discrete equipment item and, if necessary, for each operating scenario such as normal, shutdown and cleanout.  Records must be kept of unit shutdowns to assure residuals are not stored for longer than 90 days.  For waste streams determined to be not hazardous, the regulatory citation and basis (such as acceptable knowledge or testing) should be documented, recorded and updated as needed. A good engineering practice would be to review and update waste determinations annually or more often if changes occur.

Acceptable Knowledge – The Waste Analysis Guidance document suggests that acceptable knowledge will be: as current as practicable, based on material balances; reviewed annually or when changes occur; and documented with appropriate records retained.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) – The Waste Analysis Guidance document warns generators to confirm they are using the correct SDS and it is current. The SDS may mention the material is a RCRA waste if discarded or provide CAS numbers that can be compared to the listed wastes.  Properties may reveal the material would be characteristically hazardous (e.g. flash point, pH, reactive, toxic). The SDS should not be used if the waste is mixed, treated or chemically altered or as a substitute for laboratory analyses where appropriate.  SDS may not report all components and may not list hazardous components present in concentrations below 1 percent by weight.  The generator retains the burden to make a correct waste determination and the liability from improper disposal.

Codes for generator reporting need to be assigned for each hazardous waste stream. These codes describe the type of process or activity (Source), physical/chemical characteristics (Form) and type of hazardous waste management system (Management).

Key Considerations for Generators include:

  • Check State and local requirements which may be more stringent
  • Compile records of collective knowledge of wastes
  • Assure representative samples are analyzed using standard methods
  • Document acceptable knowledge in lieu of analysis
  • Support claims that secondary materials are not solid waste
  • Do not rely on single analysis for subsequent waste streams
  • Make new waste determination for each new point of generation
  • Process changes require a new waste determination
  • Periodically review and update waste determinations

 A copy of the new Waste Analysis Guidance can be downloaded from EPA’s website. Additional  information on related USEPA Guidance is available here. If you have any questions about RCRA Waste Determination requirements, please contact the Chicago office at 630-541-0626.

2011 RCRA Biennial Hazardous Waste Report

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This blog was prepared as a reminder that your facility is required to complete and file the 2011 RCRA Hazardous Waste Report (also known as the “Biennial Report”) or your State’s equivalent hazardous waste report by March 1, 2012 if your facility met the definition of a RCRA Large Quantity Generator (LQG) during 2011; or if your facility treated, stored, or disposed of RCRA hazardous wastes on-site during 2011. Although the requirement for submitting the Biennial Reports has been in place for some time, we thought this blog could be helpful to new environmental managers/professionals or as a reminder to the busy environmental managers who face numerous reporting deadlines.

Your facility is a RCRA LQG for 2011 if your facility met any of the following criteria:

  • Your facility generated, in any single calendar month, 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs.) or more of RCRA non-acute hazardous waste; or
  • Your facility generated, in any single calendar month, or accumulated at any time, more than 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of RCRA acute hazardous waste; or
  • Your facility generated, in any single calendar month, or accumulated at any time, more than 100 kg (220 lbs.) of spill cleanup material contaminated with RCRA acute hazardous waste.

Report your facility’s current Hazardous Waste Generator status based on the date you submit your 2011 Hazardous Waste Report on the Site ID Form. Your facility’s current status could be different from the status during the 2011 Hazardous Waste Report year.  Hazardous waste imported from a foreign country in 2011 must be counted in determining your facility’s generator status if your facility is the U.S. Importer.

 Do not file the 2011 Hazardous Waste Report if, during 2011, your facility was not a RCRA LQG and your facility did not treat, store, or dispose of RCRA hazardous wastes on-site in waste management units subject to a RCRA operating permit.  Unless specifically required by your state, do not file the 2011 Hazardous Waste Report if, during 2011, all hazardous waste generated at your facility was exported directly out of the United States to a foreign country.  An Annual Report must be filed in this case as required under 40 CFR 262.56.

States may impose reporting requirements above and beyond the Federal requirements. Some States use a modified version of this report or their own instructions and forms to fulfill their reporting requirements. Please contact your State Office about State-specific requirements. Locate your State Contact here.

EPA has made a number of changes to the Biennial Reporting Form this year.  A summary of the 2011 changes is provided here.

 The 2011 Hazardous Waste Report contains the following four forms: RCRA Subtitle C Site Identification (Site ID Form), Waste Generation and Management (GM Form), Waste Received From Off-site (WR Form), and Off-Site Identification (OI Form).  More information about these forms is provided here.

 As noted previously, the 2011 Hazardous Waste Report is due to your State or EPA Regional Office by Monday, March 1, 2012.  Your State reporting requirements or forms may differ from the Federal requirements.  Return your completed Hazardous Waste Report to the address listed for your State or Regional contact.

Be sure to make a photocopy of your completed Hazardous Waste Report and keep a copy for at least three years from the due date of the report as required by 40 CFR 262.40(b).

 If you have any questions about RCRA Biennial Hazardous Waste reporting requirements and whether your facility may be subject to these regulations, please contact Paul Tomiczek III, REM, P.E. at ptomiczek3@cecinc.com or 800-365-2324. More information on RCRA Biennial Reporting obligations, and detailed instructions for completing the hazardous waste report available in EPA’s 2011 Hazardous Waste Report Instructions and Forms document.