This article is the fifth in a series to address the requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart D – Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures as it applies to a Large Quantity Generator of hazardous waste (LQG). Each article will explain the requirements of a specific section of Subpart D; the previous article: 40 CFR 265.52(b) Options for the RCRA Contingency Plan for Large Quantity Generators of Hazardous Waste. This article: 40 CFR 265.53 Copies of Contingency Plan.
40 CFR 265.53 reads:
A copy of the contingency plan and all revisions to the plan must be:
(a) Maintained at the facility; and
(b) Submitted to all local police departments, fire departments, hospitals, and State and local emergency response teams that may be called upon to provide emergency services.
It seems simple, but even this short section of the regulations contains some nuances that must be understood fully in order to ensure compliance with RCRA. First of all, there’s the reference to, “A copy of the contingency plan and all revisions to the plan…”. The recordkeeping requirements for the RCRA Contingency Plan differ from other RCRA recordkeeping requirements in that a facility is not required to keep past copies as a record. Instead, the contingency plan must be kept up-to-date with all of the latest revisions. The next article in this series will address §265.54 which mandates review and update (if necessary) of the RCRA Contingency Plan. So, as the generator it is your responsibility to ensure the RCRA Contingency Plan reflects the current operations and hazardous waste management at your facility. Think of the Contingency Plans as the ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why, How’ right now at your facility. There’s no interest in what your Plan looked like last year.
An LQG also has a responsibility to maintain a copy of the RCRA Contingency Plan on-site and to submit it to certain external authorities. Easy, right? Once again, a closer look is necessary to ensure compliance. An up-to-date copy of the Plan must be maintained, “at the facility…”. This means the RCRA Contingency Plan must be readily available at the physical location of the Large Quantity Generator of hazardous waste, not at a central location, headquarters, office of off-site contractor or consultant, etc. even if those locations are more convenient for retrieval. Whatever is identified as the geographic location of the LQG is where the RCRA Contingency Plan for the facility must be located.
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The Plan must also be submitted to the following if they may be called upon in an emergency. In §265.37(a)(2) Arrangement with Local Authorities, an LQG was required to designate which of the local emergency responders would be the primary for their facility. It is those Primary Emergency Responders that an LQG is required to provide with an up-to-date copy of the RCRA Contingency Plan, they are:
- Police department
- Fire department
- State emergency response team
- Local emergency response team
Notable by their absence from this list are two external parties who are identified in §265.37 as persons whom an LQG and a Small Quantity Generator of hazardous waste (SQG) must attempt to make agreements for emergency response. They are:
- Emergency response contractors
- Equipment suppliers
So, while both an LQG and SQG are required to attempt to make arrangements and reach agreement with both emergency response contractors and equipment suppliers – if you may call upon their services in an emergency – an LQG is not required to provide them with a copy of the RCRA Contingency Plan, though you may choose to do so.
As seen in §265.52(c), the contents of the RCRA Contingency Plan must include a description of arrangements agreed to by local police, fire, hospitals, *contractors*, and State and local emergency response teams. Merely stating in the Plan that these external parties have been provided a copy as required by §265.53 requires will likely not be enough for your friendly state or USEPA inspector. The easiest option to meet the requirements of §265.52(c) is to mail a copy of the Plan to the specified parties by certified mail with return receipts which may then be kept as a record. Another option is to request a response in writing from these external parties that they have agreed to the described arrangements in the RCRA Contingency Plan. You may have difficulty getting this response, so be prepared to follow-up with additional contacts or fall back on option 1.
The requirement to submit updated copies of the Plan to external emergency responders can be one of the most tedious responsibilities of maintaining a RCRA Contingency Plan. As we will see in §265.54 – Amendment of Contingency Plan, revisions to the Plan are required for a variety of reasons. Each revision will require a new round of submittals to the external emergency responders.
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The completion of a RCRA Contingency Plan is no small task. Nor is the maintenance of that Plan in compliance with 40 CFR 265, Subpart D, but it is necessary for an LQG. Please read all the articles in this series to ensure your compliance, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about the Hazardous Waste Regulations of the USEPA or your State.