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40 CFR 265.35 – Required Aisle Space for Emergency Preparedness and Prevention

40 CFR 265.35 – Required Aisle Space for Emergency Preparedness and Prevention

In the previous article of this series I described the requirements of 40 CFR 265.34 – Access to Communications or Alarm Systems.  That section of Part 265 specified what was required of a large quantity generator (LQG) or a small quantity generator (SQG) of hazardous waste to provide immediate access to communications and alarm systems for its personnel.  This article will research and explain the next section of Part 265, that of 40 CFR 265.35 – Required aisle space.

40 CFR 265.35 reads:

The owner or operator must maintain aisle space to allow the unobstructed movement of personnel, fire protection equipment, spill control equipment, and decontamination equipment to any area of facility operation in an emergency, unless aisle space is not needed for any of these purposes.  Emphasis in the original.

The purpose of this section of Part 265 is to require an LQG or SQG to provide “unobstructed movement” to any area of its facility where equipment (see §265.32 for Required Equipment) and personnel (see §265.37 for Arrangements with Local Authorities) may be necessary in an emergency.

Contrary to popular belief, the requirements of this regulation are not limited solely to containers of hazardous waste in a Central Accumulation Area.  While adequate aisle space in the CAA is required by §265.35 and also necessary in order to complete weekly inspections, §265.35 specifically indicates that aisle space must be maintained to “any area of facility operation in an emergency.” (emphasis mine).  This will require you to inspect every area of your facility to determine where access may be necessary in an emergency, not just the areas where hazardous waste accumulates.

§265.35 does not indicate a distance in inches or feet that will provide the required aisle space to allow for “unobstructed movement” of equipment and personnel.  It is your responsibility as the generator to determine what is required.  Lacking clarity in the Federal regulations, there are other sources on which you may rely.

If your state has an authorized hazardous waste program it may specify a minimum width of your aisle space.  For example, in New Jersey the Department of Environmental Protection requires 18 inches of aisle space for single-stacked 55-gallon drums.

Absent of useful state regulation, you may refer to OSHA guidance on its own regulations [29 CFR 1910.22(b)] which recommends aisle width of at least 3 feet wider than the largest equipment to be utilized, or a minimum of 4 feet.

Whether you follow the requirements of your state or the OSHA interpretation, you must not ignore the requirement of §265.35 to provide for an aisle width that allows for “unobstructed movement” of personnel and equipment in an emergency.  Depending on several site-specific factors, this may require more than 4 feet in some circumstances.

§265.35 does allow for relief from compliance with its requirements if you determine that aisle space will not be necessary in order for emergency personnel or equipment to perform in an emergency, “unless aisle space is not needed for any of these purposes.”  Emphasis in the original.

Your first step to ensure compliance with §265.35 is to determine if your state specifies an aisle width in its regulations.  If no direction from your state, you should conduct a thorough review of your entire facility while considering possible emergencies and the equipment and personnel that may be necessary to meet that emergency.  Make certain adequate aisle space is available to allow for unobstructed movement, and where not available, provide for the necessary aisle space.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about your compliance with this, or any other section, of 40 CFR 265, Subpart C.