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40 CFR 265.54 – Amendment of the RCRA Contingency Plan

40 CFR 265.54 – Amendment of the RCRA Contingency Plan

This article is the sixth in a series that takes a close look at the requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart D – Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures.  This Subpart, along with the remainder for Part 265 is applicable to permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) and to large quantity generators of hazardous waste (LQGs).  A Contingency Plan and the emergency procedures outlined in Subpart D are critical for the safe operation of a hazardous waste facility and to ensure compliance with state and Federal regulations.  The purpose of this article is to read, review, and explain the requirements of 40 CFR 265.54 Amendment of Contingency Plan.

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Read the previous article in this series:  40 CFR 265.53 Copies of the Contingency Plan

40 CFR 265.54 reads:

The RCRA regulations at 40 CFR 265, Subpart D require an LQG to have a Contingency Plan

An LQG must have an up-to-date Contingency Plan

The contingency plan must be reviewed, and immediately amended, if necessary, whenever:

(a) Applicable regulations are revised;

(b) The plan fails in an emergency;

(c) The facility changes – in its design, construction, operation, maintenance, or other circumstances – in a way that materially increases the potential for fires, explosions, or releases of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents, or changes the response necessary in an emergency;

(d) The list of emergency coordinators changes; or

(e) The list of emergency equipment changes.

Interestingly, these regulations do not require an annual review and update of the Plan.  Instead, §265.54 identifies the five conditions that require a review and the need for an immediate amendment “if necessary“.

These five conditions are:

  • A change to the regulations that impact the contingency plan, your facility’s operations, or the implementation of the Plan.  Note that this is not limited to changes to the regulations under RCRA; it is possible that changes to other regulations enforced by the EPA (eg. those under the Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act) or those enforced by OSHA or US DOT could trigger a review.  Applicable regulations could be state or Federal, and even though most states I am familiar with adhere closely to Subpart D, there can be some state-specific requirements not found in the Federal regulations.  In addition to regulations you should search for any state-specific guidelines or policy regarding the Contingency Plan (check your state environmental agency website for more information).  It’s a good idea to stay on top of all regulatory changes that could impact your operations, any of those that affect the Contingency Plan or emergency response procedures at your facility will require a review of the Plan and possibly its immediate amendment.
  • An emergency (real or simulated) reveals errors, weaknesses, or deficiencies in your Plan.  If you didn’t have a reason for a test drill at your facility, now you do.  I think it a good idea to test your Plan in mock emergencies in order to identify a potential failure instead of waiting for one (like a telephone number that’s been changed) to occur during a real emergency.  Either way, these failures, potential or real, will require a review, and likely, immediate amendment to the Plan.
  • The facility changes in a such a way that the Plan no longer reflects the potential emergencies or the required response.  Note that this isn’t just any change to the facility, but a change that does one of two things:
    • A substantial (materially = substantial) change to the potential for a hazardous waste emergency; or
    • A change in the response that will be necessary in an emergency.
  • A change to the list of emergency coordinators.  §265.52(d) requires the Contingency Plan to include names, addresses, and phone numbers (office and home) of the facility’s emergency coordinators.  Any change to this list mandates a review and immediate amendment of the Plan and remember from §265.53 that these amended copies must be submitted to all local police & fire departments, hospitals, and state and local emergency response teams.  In my experience changes to the emergency coordinator list occur frequently enough to make this a tedious task.  But, I am unaware of any exception from this regulation, so it becomes just one more time-consuming responsibility of an LQG.
  • A change to the list of emergency equipment.  §265.52(e) mandates the Plan contain an up-to-date list of all emergency equipment at the facility and the equipment’s location, physical description, and its capabilities.  Note that this regulation does not specify the type of change necessary to trigger a review, so one is left to assume it is required for any change in the facility’s emergency equipment list.  I suggest you maintain an up-to-date list of your emergency equipment, its location, capabilities, etc. but don’t waste your time and your local fire department, &etc. by firing off a revised Contingency Plan every time a spill kit is moved.

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It’s quite possible that none of these five conditions occur at your facility for an extended period, resulting in a substantial time period without a review of the Plan.  I recommend, however, that at least annually your RCRA Contingency Plan be reviewed – tested would be better – and at that time you determine if an immediate amendment of the Plan is necessary.  Don’t lose sight of that word, “immediate”.  That doesn’t leave you much time for procrastination once a need to amend the Plan has been determined.

Also, though not required by these regulations, I suggest you document any review of the Plan whether it’s precipitated by one of these five conditions or occurs due to a periodic review or test of the Plan.  This documented review should be completed even if – perhaps especially if- there is no change to the Plan and should be filed with the records associated with the Contingency Plan.

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Annual RCRA training for hazardous waste personnel

If you have a Contingency Plan, have you trained your Facility Personnel?

If as an LQG you are subject to the requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart D, than you are also subject to the requirements of 40 CFR 265.16 to annually train your facility personnel in the regulations applicable to your facility and to the emergency response procedures described in your RCRA Contingency Plan.  Contact me for a free consultation on your responsibilities as a generator of hazardous waste.