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Correcting Mistakes on a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest

Correcting Mistakes on a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest

Everybody makes mistakes, right?  But what if those mistakes are made by a generator of hazardous waste on the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest?  In this article I will explain the regulatory requirements of both the USEPA and the USDOT/PHMSA for correcting mistakes on the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest (Manifest).

Right away there are some conditions that must be considered when addressing this topic:

  • While the transportation of hazardous materials (eg. paint and solvents received at your facility) are subject only to the regulations of the USDOT/PHMSA, the transportation of hazardous waste (eg. Waste Paint Related Material) is subject to the regulations of both the USEPA and the USDOT/PHMSA (Topic # 23002-24740).
  • State regulations regarding the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest may be more strict than those of the USEPA considered in this article.
  • USDOT/PHMSA regulations refer to a Offeror of a hazardous material (aka. Shipper), whereas the USEPA regulations refer to a generator of hazardous waste.  As a compromise the Manifest refers to a Generator/Offeror.
  • USDOT/PHMSA regulations refer to a Carrier of a hazardous material, whereas the USEPA regulations and the Manifest use the term Transporter.
  • Despite the importance of the issue and the desire of all agencies involved that mistakes on the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest are corrected, there is very little in the regulations, interpretations, or guidance documents on the subject.

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When determining the responsibility for correcting mistakes on a Manifest it is necessary to specify at what stage of transportation, and by whom, the mistake is noticed, as I will below:

Mistake noticed prior to certification by Generator/Offeror:

At this point it is a simple matter for the Generator/Offeror to correct any mistakes found on the Manifest.  This can be done by simply lining out the incorrect information and entering it correctly.  It is not necessary to initial any changes to the shipping paper in this situation, though this is commonly done and is acceptable.

If at this time a mistake is noticed on the Manifest by Transporter 1 they should bring it to the attention of the Generator/Offeror to correct in the same manner as indicated above.

Errors, mistakes, and discrepancies, caught at this stage are no big deal as long as corrections are made.  It is also important to ensure that the changes and corrections do not hinder the overall purpose of the Manifest which is to communicate the potential hazards of the hazardous waste in transportation and document its cradle-to-grave life-cycle.  Too many corrections resulting in a messy Manifest may require a replacement.

Question:  How many changes am I allowed to make on a Manifest before I am required to replace it?
Answer:  There is no threshold amount of corrections that will mandate the use of a new Manifest.  While a Manifest free of mark-ups is preferred, there is not a requirement in the regulations to begin again with a new Manifest after a certain number of corrections are made.  The key requirements of a Manifest are its accuracy and its legibility.   
Mistake noticed after certification by the Generator/Offeror but before acceptance by Transporter 1:

It is allowable for a Generator/Offeror to sign the Manifest several hours, or even days, prior to its signature by Transporter 1 (RO 12204).  It is therefore conceivable that the Generator/Offeror is not present when Transporter 1 is on-site to pick-up the hazardous waste and sign his acceptance of the load on the Manifest.  If at this time Transporter 1 notices an error missed by the Generator/Offeror, he has three options:

  1. Cooperate with the Generator/Offeror to correct the Manifest.
  2. Reject the load.
  3. Make the necessary corrections to the Manifest.

If he has knowledge of errors on the Manifest, Transporter 1 – or 2, or 3, or 4, &etc. – must either reject the load or make the necessary corrections, with or without the consent of the Generator/Offeror.  When making corrections to the Manifest in this manner Transporter 1 does not assume the full responsibility of the Generator/Offeror (“Shipper” in USDOT/PHMSA regulations) but retains his role as the Transporter (“Carrier” in USDOT/PHMSA regulations), see PHMSA Interpretation 10-0192.

Question:  So if the Transporter makes a change to the Manifest without the knowledge or consent of the Generator/Offeror, is the transporter then responsible for the accuracy of the information he provided?  What about other information on the Manifest, is the Transporter responsible for that as well if he makes a change to the Manifest?
Answer:  No.  The Transporter cannot accept a load of hazardous waste if he knows the Manifest to contain errors.  The correction of these errors (with or without the consent of the Offeror/Generator) does not create any additional responsibilities for the Transporter or relieve the Generator/Offeror of their responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the Manifest in describing the hazardous waste.
Mistake noticed after the delivery of the hazardous waste to the Designated Facility:

Here is where the cradle-to-grave management of a hazardous waste on the Manifest distinguishes itself from the regulation of a hazardous material under just the regulations of the USDOT/PHMSA.  For a hazardous material, its delivery to its destination and subsequent departure by the transporter terminates its regulation under the Hazardous Material Regulations.  Discrepancies, errors, etc. found on a HazMat shipping paper at this stage are not subject to the regulations of the USDOT/PHMSA and are left to be worked out between the interested parties.

The USEPA views this situation very differently.  Pursuant to 40 CFR 264.72(a)/265.72(a) a Designated Facility is required to document the presence of discrepancies found on the Manifest, including:

  • Significant differences (as defined by paragraph (b) of this section) between the quantity or type of hazardous waste designated on the manifest, and the quantity and type of hazardous waste a facility actually receives,
  • Rejected wastes, which may be a full or partial shipment of hazardous waste that the Destination Facility cannot accept; or
  • Container residues that exceed the quantity limits for “empty” containers set forth in 40 CFR 261.7(b).

Discovery of a manifest discrepancy mandates the Designated Facility to work with the Generator/Offeror to resolve the situation.  Depending on the type of discrepancy, the Designated Facility has a specific period of time to either resolve it or submit a report to the USEPA.

The regulations do not indicate what is required of a Designated Facility if an error on a manifest does not meet one of the above identified characteristics; for example, a difference in the volume of a bulk shipment that is less than 10%.  In this situation it is recommended that corrections be made to the Manifest whenever they are found and involve the cooperation of the Generator/Offeror, if possible.

Something to consider whenever there’s a discussion about the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest and who is responsible for its adherence to the regulations:

  • The Designated Facility signs in Section 19 as accepting the shipment of hazardous waste including any discrepancies noted in Section 18.
  • The Transporter(s) sign in Section(s) 6 & 7 as accepting the shipment of hazardous waste for transportation.
  • The Generator/Offeror signs in Section 15 as a certification that the entire shipment is in compliance with the applicable regulations of the USEPA and the USDOT/PHMSA.
Question:  So, if I'm the Generator/Offeror, the responsibility for the accuracy of the description of the hazardous waste on the Manifest is all on my shoulders?
Answer:  Pretty much, yeah.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about completing the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest or the training required by both the USEPA and the USDOT/PHMSA for anyone who signs it.

Daniels Training Services

815.821.1550/Info@DanielsTraining.com/http://www.danielstraining.com/