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40 CFR 265, Subpart D – The RCRA Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures FAQs

40 CFR 265, Subpart D – The RCRA Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures FAQs

A Large Quantity Generator of hazardous waste (LQG) and a Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility for hazardous waste (TSDF) are both subject to the USEPA regulations at 40 CFR 265, Subpart D and are required to have a contingency plan for their operations.  In a series of articles (The Requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart D – Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures) I explored in detail the requirements of each section of Subpart D.  Here I will address some of the frequently asked questions about these USEPA regulations and their application to a hazardous waste generator (LQG).

What is a RCRA contingency plan?

The contingency plan is a documented set of specific, organized, planned, and coordinated  actions to be followed to minimize hazards to human health or the environment that may result from:

  • Fires or explosions, and;
  • Any unplanned sudden or non-sudden release of a hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents to air, soil, or surface water.

What is a hazardous waste constituent?

A hazardous waste constituent is defined at 40 CFR 260.10:

Hazardous waste constituent means a constituent that caused the Administrator to list the hazardous waste in part 261, subpart D, of this chapter, or a constituent listed in table 1 of §261.24 of this chapter.

So, a hazardous waste constituent is a chemical substance identified by name as a listed hazardous waste (§261, Subpart D) or the toxicity characteristic for hazardous waste (§261.24).

Who must prepare a RCRA contingency plan?

The first are the owners and operators of a hazardous waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF), both those with a permit to operate and those operating under interim status.  The second are Large Quantity Generators of hazardous waste (LQGs).  The reference to comply with 40 CFR 265, Subpart D Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures for an LQG is found at 40 CFR 262.34(a)(4).

When must the RCRA contingency plan be submitted to the USEPA or a state agency (if the state has an authorized hazardous waste program)?

An LQG is required to submit a copy of the contingency plan to all local police departments, fire departments, hospitals, and State and local emergency response teams that may be called upon to provide emergency services (§265.53).  Their is no requirement for an LQG to submit a copy of the RCRA contingency plan to the USEPA regional administrator or authorized state.  A TSDF, however, must submit a copy of its RCRA contingency plan to the USEPA regional administrator or authorized state with its Part B permit application (§264.53).

What if the facility already has a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan pursuant to 40 CFR 112 or some other emergency or contingency plan?

If a facility already has in place an SPCC Plan or some other emergency or contingency plan, it may be amended to incorporate hazardous waste management provisions sufficient to comply with the requirements for the contingency plan [§265.52(b)].

What is the Integrated Contingency Plan, aka:  “One Plan”?

The Integrated Contingency Plan (ICP or One Plan) was developed by the National Response Team (chaired by the USEPA) as a way for a facility to consolidate its multiple plans required by various Federal regulations (nine different Federal regulations from Five Federal agencies) into one contingency plan to meet all the regulatory requirements.  Use of the One Plan is optional.  The National Response Team provides guidance about completion of the One Plan.  More information about the Integrated Contingency Plan.

When are the provisions of a contingency plan to be carried out?

[§265.51(b)] The provisions of a contingency plan must be carried out immediately whenever any of the below that could threaten human health or the environment:

  • Fires or explosions, or;
  • Any unplanned sudden or non-sudden release of a hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents to the air, soil, or surface water.

At what frequency must a RCRA contingency plan be reviewed and amended?

(§265.54) There is no specified frequency for contingency plan review or amendment.  A contingency plan must be reviewed, and immediately amended, if necessary, whenever:

  •  Applicable regulations are revised.
  • The plan fails in an emergency.
  • 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.
  • The facility changes in a way that changes the response necessary in an emergency.
  • The list of emergency coordinators changes.
  • The list of emergency equipment changes.

What is the responsibility of the Emergency Coordinator?

(§265.55) The Emergency Coordinator identified in the RCRA contingency plan is responsible for coordinating all emergency response measures at the facility.  To accomplish this, the Emergency Coordinator must be thoroughly familiar with:

  • All aspects of the facility’s contingency plan.
  • All operations and activities at the facility.
  • The location and characteristics of waste handled.
  • The location of all records within the facility.
  • The layout of the facility.

In addition, the Emergency Coordinator must have the authority to commit the resources needed to carry out the contingency plan.

The specific steps to be taken by the Emergency Coordinator in an actual or imminent emergency are spelled out in §265.56 Emergency procedures.

How should the contingency plan be organized?

There is no specified format for the contingency plan, however, the plan should be well organized to make information readily accessible in an emergency.  A detailed table of contents and numbered pages will assist in accomplishing this.  Also suggested is maintaining the plan in a 3-ring binder that can lay flat and includes tabbed dividers for sections.

Is a cover page required?

No, but it is a good idea.  A cover page should include the following:

  • Facility name, location, and phone number.
  • Plan completion date and date of any revisions.

Must the contingency plan include information as to how amendments to the plan pursuant to §265.54 will be handled?

No, but it is a good idea to include information as to how amendments to the plan will be managed if such an amendment is made pursuant to §265.54.

Is an evacuation plan required for the RCRA contingency plan?  What about a facility site diagram?

While an evacuation plan for the facility is required [§265.52(f)], it is only a recommendation to include a site diagram.  If included, it should be to scale and include the following:

  • Evacuation routes.
  • Emergency equipment (including fire hydrants).
  • Chemical handling and storage areas.
  • Storm drains.
  • Location of underground storage tanks and pipes.
  • & etc.

Does the RCRA contingency plan apply solely to fires, explosions or releases of hazardous waste?  What about other hazardous materials at my facility?

40 CFR 265.51 Purpose and Implementation of Contingency Plan refers to fires, explosions or releases of hazardous waste and hazardous waste constituents.  Hazardous waste constituents are defined at 40 CFR 260.10:

Hazardous waste constituent means a constituent that caused the Administrator to list the hazardous waste in part 261, subpart D, of this chapter, or a constituent listed in table 1 of §261.24 of this chapter.

Since a hazardous waste constituent includes the substances and materials that may become a hazardous waste, it may be a good idea to include hazardous raw materials stored or used on-site.

This list will be updated as more information becomes available.  Be sure to refer to my complete series of articles to learn in detail the requirements of the USEPA for the RCRA contingency plan.  Also, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about the contingency plan or the RCRA training requirements for a large quantity generator of hazardous waste.