There are two kinds of hazardous waste according to the EPA.
Characteristic hazardous wastes are more-or-less what you would expect: unusable byproducts requiring hazardous waste management because they possess noxious qualities such as corrosivity, ignitability, reactivity, and/or toxicity.
Listed hazardous wastes are less intuitive. These don’t exhibit such noxious qualities per se. Instead, because they’re byproducts of processes that typically produce such hazardous wastes, they’re arbitrarily deemed to require hazardous waste disposal
As you might predict, in the case of listed hazardous wastes, such formulaic “guilt by association” can cause relatively benign waste to be spuriously categorized as “hazardous.” Thereby, they demand the time and expense of hazardous material disposal even though such treatment might be superfluous.
What is a delisting petition?
Fortunately, the EPA provides a procedure for removing a waste stream from its list of hazardous wastes—if such waste is proven to be effectively innocent of corrosivity, ignitability, reactivity, and/or toxicity. Called a delisting petition, this procedure must be initiated by you (as a waste generator), and as in all things involving the EPA, it’s crucial to get expert advice. Consider:
Which regulatory agency is in charge?
The first step for developing your delisting petition is to determine which bureaucracy wields authority to review and approve it. It’s not unusual for such power to lie with your regional EPA office; there are ten of them throughout the US. However, in some areas of the country, one or another state regulatory agency might take precedence.
We advise asking your EPA regional lead contact about which regulatory body is alpha in your area. Whether it’s your regional EPA or a state bureaucracy, bear in mind that delisting requirements differ across EPA regional offices; and that each state imposes its own rules, procedures, and filing requirements. Understanding how these requirements might interact and impact your petition is crucial.
You will need to explain your methods of characteristic analysis.
Paperwork notwithstanding, the lion’s share of your task will be to assay the characteristics and chemical composition of your waste stream so as to support your rationale for delisting it. Logically, when doing so, you’ll want to “position” your petition for the agency with primary jurisdiction.
In that regard, remember that a relatively benign topic for the regional EPA might be a hot-button issue for your state authorities, or vice-versa. Ignoring such local anxieties can provoke opposition to your petition that would have otherwise remained dormant.
In any event, your delisting petition minimally needs to include:
- Explanation of the scientific method by which you intend to assay the materials, with specific regard to the types of wastes under consideration
- Analysis of differences between data acquired by your proposed method compared to those attained by more commonly-employed “EPA-approved” chemical analyses
- Description of the QC methods you employed to ensure the validity and/or reliability of your proposed method—and an assessment of any factors that could mitigate either
Which of the three kinds of delisting exclusions is for you?
If your delisting petition is successful, the waste under consideration will receive one of three exclusion types that exempt it from hazardous chemical disposal requirements.
- Standard exclusion. If your waste is granted this sort of exclusion, then it needn’t be retested, except as might be required to monitor characteristics. There are two kinds of standard inclusions. A “source waste” standard exclusion covers such waste that is currently being generated, as well as any that will be produced in the future. Conversely, a “one time” standard exclusion might be granted for a unique nonrepeating circumstance.
- Conditional exclusion. This type of exclusion is typically issued when a waste stream is highly variable in composition. Your waste is effectively delisted, but only if each batch meets certain requirements. Such requirements typically establish maximum levels for noxious waste constituents.
- Upfront Exclusion. This is a unique kind of conditional exclusion for delisting an anticipated waste stream. (E.g. residue secondary to byproduct incineration.) Test-bench and/or pilot data are required alongside detailed descriptions of your treatment process. And once the new treatment process is in place, it must be re-assayed to meet standard or conditional exclusion requirements.
What’s the upshot?
In sum, a nonhazardous waste stream might be spuriously classified as hazardous solely because it’s the byproduct of a process that typically produces corrosive, ignitable, ignitability, reactive, and/or toxic waste constituents, albeit in totally unrelated circumstances.
Recognizing this, the EPA has established a protracted process for delisting any waste stream that might be erroneously classified as needing hazardous waste management. This process designates three different exemption types for which you might apply, not counting subcategories.
If you believe you have a hazardous waste stream that meets the requirements for “delisting,” don’t go it alone. Contact us today or call (800) 936-2311 for expert advice and services.