The Generator Improvements Rule includes over sixty (60) changes to the regulations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) applicable to generators of hazardous waste. The regulations created by the Generator Improvements Rule went into effect on May 30, 2017 at the Federal level; the status of these new regulations in your state may vary. Read: What is the Status of the Generator Improvements Rule in my State?
Among its new regulations (found at 40 CFR 262, Subpart L) is an allowance for some hazardous waste generators to temporarily exceed the hazardous waste generation limits of their status without a change to their generator status.
The purpose of this article is to describe how the new regulations may be used during an episodic event of hazardous waste generation at a very small quantity generator of hazardous waste (VSQG).
Before we begin…
Federal regulations identify three hazardous waste generator status:
- Large quantity generator (LQG)
- Small quantity generator (SQG)
- Conditionally exempt small quantity generator (CESQG). Now known as very small quantity generator (VSQG) thanks to the Generator Improvements Rule.
Not sure of your hazardous waste generator status?
A facility’s hazardous waste generator status is determined by the amount – in kilograms or pounds – of hazardous waste or acute hazardous waste it generates in a calendar month. Prior to this new rule, if a facility generated a quantity of hazardous waste in a calendar month above its status threshold it had to comply with the requirements of the next higher generator status for the remainder of that calendar month and for as long as the excess hazardous waste accumulated on-site. Read: Episodic Generator Status.
Company A’s usual generator status is VSQG. However, in September it generates 101 kg of hazardous waste. It must then comply with all of the requirements applicable to an SQG for the remainder of September. Since Company A is now an SQG it may accumulate hazardous waste on-site for up to 180 days; it’s in no rush. In October Company A generates 90 kg of hazardous waste and returns to VSQG status. The 101 kg of hazardous waste generated in September must continue to be managed in compliance with SQG regulations if it remains on-site in October. Waste generated in October – and beyond – as a VSQG may be managed subject to the regulations of a VSQG.
The confusing regulations caused by this common occurrence is what the new rule seeks to remedy.
Unsatisfied with the Federal regulations prior to the Generator Improvements Rule, many states adopted their own regulations or guidance for the management of hazardous waste generated during an episodic event. Those state regulations will remain in effect until the state adopts this new Federal Rule (IF it adopts this new Federal rule). Since it is less strict than existing regulation, states with an authorized hazardous waste program are not required to adopt this new Federal rule.
The Alternative Standards for Episodic Generation found in 40 CFR 262, Subpart L are applicable to both very small quantity generators and small quantity generators. (They would be of no use to large quantity generators since LQGs have no upper threshold to the amount of hazardous waste they may generate.) As noted above, this article focuses solely on the applicability of the regulations to a very small quantity generator.
States that adopt this new rule may modify its provisions to be more strict than the Federal regulation. Once adopted, be sure to check with your state to see if it was adopted with or without any revisions.
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Three terms are deemed important enough to the understanding of this regulation – and unique to it – that they are included in Subpart L (40 CFR 262.331) and not in the usual location for RCRA definitions at 40 CFR 260.10. They are,
Episodic event means an activity or activities, either planned or unplanned, that does not normally occur during generator operations, resulting in an increase in the generation of hazardous wastes that exceeds the calendar month quantity limits for the generator’s usual category.
Planned episodic event means an episodic event that the generator planned and prepared for, including regular maintenance, tank cleanouts, short-term projects, and removal of excess chemical inventory
Unplanned episodic event means an episodic event that the generator did not plan or reasonably did not expect to occur, including production process upsets, product recalls, accidental spills, or “acts of nature,” such as tornado, hurricane, or flood.
So, episodic events come in two types: planned and unplanned. An episodic event is an activity that does not normally occur and results in an increase in the hazardous waste generator status. e.g. a VSQG performs an annual clean-out of its inventory (planned) or experiences a spill (unplanned) that results in the generation of more than 100 kg of hazardous waste in a calendar month.
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Conditions for management of hazardous waste from an episodic event at a VSQG
- VSQG is limited to one episodic event per calendar year. However, a second episodic event in a calendar year may be approved if a petition is granted pursuant to 40 CFR 262.233. Read: Petition to EPA for one Additional Episodic Event per Calendar Year.
- VSQG must notify EPA no later than thirty (30) days prior to initiating a planned episodic event using EPA Form 8700-12. Read: Notification to EPA for a Hazardous Waste Episodic Event
- If an unplanned episodic event, VSGQ must notify EPA within 72 hours via phone, email, or fax and subsequently submit EPA Form 8700-12. (Read: Notification to EPA for a Hazardous Waste Episodic Event). The time-frame for subsequent submittal of the EPA Form 8700-12 is not specified. I suggest it is done as soon as possible.
- Whether the episodic event is planned or unplanned, the VSQG has no more than sixty (60) calendar days – includes weekends – from the start of the episodic event to the date the waste must be shipped off-site to a designated facility.
- VSQG must obtain an EPA identification number unless it already has one. Use of EPA Form 8700-12 is required.
- Episodic hazardous waste can’t be accumulated on drip pads or in containment buildings, it must be accumulated in either containers or tanks.
- Episodic hazardous waste accumulated in containers must be managed as follows:
- Container must be marked or labeled with the following:
- The words “Episodic Hazardous Waste”
- An indication of the hazards of the contents. Read: Required Marks and Labels on Hazardous Waste Accumulation Units Under the Generator Improvements Rule
- The date the episodic event began.
- Container must be in good condition and compatible with the waste.
- Container must be kept closed except when adding or removing waste.
- Container must be marked or labeled with the following:
- Episodic hazardous waste accumulated in tanks must be managed as follows:
- Mark or label tank “Episodic Hazardous Waste”.
- Mark or label tank to indicate the hazards of the contents. Read: Required Marks and Labels on Hazardous Waste Accumulation Units Under the Generator Improvements Rule
- Use one of the following to identify the date the episodic event began. It is not necessary to mark or label the tank itself with this information as it is with the container.
- Inventory logs
- Monitoring equipment
- Other records
- The above records must be kept on-site and made readily available for inspection.
- Tanks must be in good condition and compatible with the waste.
- Tanks must have procedures in place to prevent overflow, such as a feed cut-off system or bypass system.
- Tanks must be inspected at least once each operating day.
- Episodic hazardous waste must be sent for off-site disposal to a designated facility (defined at 40 CFR 260.10). Its off-site transportation must be documented on a uniform hazardous waste manifest. Note: disposal to a designated facility per 40 CFR 260.10 and use of the uniform hazardous waste manifest is not required for other hazardous waste generated by a VSQG.
- VSQG must maintain the following records for three (3) years from the end date of the episodic event:
- Beginning and end date of the episodic event.
- A description of the episodic event.
- A description of the types and quantities of hazardous waste generated during the episodic event.
- A description of how the hazardous waste was managed – both on-site and off-site disposal.
- The name of the designated facility that received the hazardous waste.
- The name(s) of the hazardous waste transporters used. Note: use of a hazardous waste transporter is not required for other hazardous waste generated by a VSQG.
- An approval letter from EPA if the hazardous waste was generated during a second episodic event during a calendar year. Read: Petition to EPA for one Additional Episodic Event per Calendar Year.
There you have it! Hopefully states with an authorized hazardous waste program will see the benefits of these alternative standards and quickly scrap their own regulations for episodic generation – if they have them – and replace them with this new Federal rule.
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