The first major effort in 35 years on the part of the EPA to amend its rules applicable to hazardous materials disposal goes into effect May 30th.
Dubbed the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, it’s an attempt by the EPA to simplify some regulations for hazardous waste generators, making such rules easier to understand, while providing greater flexibility for hazardous waste management.
Nonetheless, expert advice is advisable. Consider:
By the EPA’s own account, the simplified rules feature more than 60 revisions and new provisions that will impact between 424,000 and 677,000 hazardous waste generator locations, affecting virtually all U.S. industries as well as many other commercial and government enterprises.
Major Changes in the New Rule
Basically, the new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule includes three main changes:
- It will allow very small quantity generators (VSQGs) producing 100 kilograms or less of hazardous waste per month to ship their waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) under the control of the same company. According to the EPA, this can reduce a company’s operating costs and environmental liability, encourage greater recycling efforts, and reduce the amount of VSQG hazardous waste being sent to municipal solid waste landfills.
- Instead of triggering more stringent generator regulations, it will allow a small quantity generator (SQG) or a very small quantity generator (VSQG) to keep its present generator status in the case of a non-routine event. According to the EPA, this can provide relief if, for example, a company generates an atypical amount of hazardous waste in a single month, as in the case of a product recall.
- It mandates that additional information be provided about the dangers posed by a hazardous waste when it’s being accumulated onsite; as well as amending regulations about communicating such risks to workers, waste handlers, and emergency responders.
Since its initial proposal and in response to public input, the EPA made several significant changes to the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule relative to how it was originally conceived. Some of the most important, going forward:
- Hazardous waste generators needn’t document all determinations that a waste is not a hazardous waste nor maintain such documentation in its record.
- Hazardous waste generators needn’t label containers and tanks of hazardous waste with a description of the contents, except for the words “Hazardous Waste,” a description of the dangers posed by the contents, and the date the accumulation started.
- The timeframe for an event to be considered “episodic” is 60 days.
- The timeframe for SQG re-notification is changed to every four years starting in 2021 and to September 1 of the year such re-notifications are required.
The expressed aim of the EPA regarding its new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule is to facilitate better hazardous waste management across business and industry by allowing greater flexibility for how entities dispose of hazardous waste.
It does so by closing a number of longstanding gaps in EPA regulations while trying to make hazardous waste disposalregulations themselves more readily understood.
It also narrows the incidental circumstances under which a very small quantity generator (VSQG) must be reassigned to the more stringent regulations of a small quantity generator (SQG), and those under which an SQG must be reassigned to the more stringent regulations of a large quantity generator (LQG).
The rule also mandates and defines improved risk communication between and among workers, waste handlers, and emergency responders.
But as the EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule contains more than 60 revisions and new provisions, expert advice would be a prudent component of your efforts to comply with it.