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RCRA Recordkeeping Requirements – Emergency Preparedness & Prevention

RCRA Recordkeeping Requirements – Emergency Preparedness & Prevention

The RCRA regulations @ 40 CFR 265, Subpart C – Preparedness and Prevention apply to both Large Quantity Generators and Small Quantity Generators of hazardous waste [via §262.34(a)(4) & §262.34(d)(4), respectively].  A close review of the entire Subpart reveals little in the way of a requirement for documentation or recordkeeping.  The one place where a document is mentioned, “…the operating record…” is in §265.37(b), more on that later.  You may, however, wish to create documents and keep records of certain activities required by the Subpart in order to demonstrate compliance with the regulations and to fulfill the wishes of the USEPA.  This will include Testing and Maintenance of Equipment (§265.33) and Arrangements With Local Authorities (§265.37).

40 CFR 265.33 Testing and Maintenance of Equipment:  This section requires owners and operators of applicable facilities [LQG’s & SQG’s for the purposes of this article, but includes permitted hazardous waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDF’s) as well] to test and maintain the emergency equipment required by the Subpart in order to ensure its proper operation.  No mention is made of maintaining documents as a record of the testing and maintenance; however I recommend you do just that.  Any maintenance or testing of emergency equipment (alarms, communication devices, fire suppression equipment, spill response equipment, decontamination equipment, & etc.) should be kept as a record for three years to demonstrate compliance with this section.

40 CFR 265.37 Arrangements with Local Authorities:  This section contains the only regulatory requirement for a document found in the entire Subpart.  In §265.37(b) we read that an owner or operator of a subject facility (SQG, LQG, or TSDF) must document in the facility’s operating record if a state or local emergency response authority refuses an attempt to make arrangements to familiarize them with the potential hazardous waste emergencies at the facility.  Curiously, the regulation contains no requirement to document the owner/operators attempts to make those arrangements.  Nor is there a regulatory requirement to provide the emergency response authorities with any written information regarding the facility, its layout, the type and disposition of its hazardous wastes, or its potential emergencies.  However, in a 2010 Memo to its regional directors, the USEPA recommends that they (the regional directors) include a requirement to provide Written Preparedness and Prevention Information (PPI) to state and local emergency responders into the permit conditions of TSDF’s.  In the memo the USEPA states the following:

…the Agency has concluded that the existing regulatory framework under 40 CFR parts 264 and 265 provides the authority to (require the completion and submittal of the PPI).

The regulations clearly intend that, in the event of a fire, explosion or release, local responders have current and specific information to properly address the incident and minimize hazards to human health and the environment.

EPA’s intent (is) that local responders have-in-hand the specific information they need for prompt and effective response…

Though LQG’s and SQG’s are not referenced in the memo (it is intended solely for permitted hazardous waste TSDF’s), the regulations they reference as the basis of the recommendation (§265.37) apply to LQG’s and SQG’s as well.  I suggest both LQG’s and SQG’s interpret this memo as a strong suggestion from the USEPA (perhaps a bit stronger for LQG’s) to create a PPI and submit it to state and local emergency response authorities and re-submit updated information as necessary.  Do this in addition to other attempts to familiarize them with your facility, such as inviting them in for a tour.

Submittal of the PPI should be only one part of your attempts to reacxh out to the emergency response authorities, §265.37 does not require you to document these attempts, though it is a good idea.  Therefore, I recommend you create and maintain as a record – for at least three years – any attempts to make arrangements with state or local emergency responders.  Forms of documentation may include: copies of letters & emails, meeting notes, and transcripts of telephone conversations.  Records of older correspondence may be discarded when superseded by more recent events.

As mentioned above, §265.37(b) is the one place in Subpart C where a form of documentation is mentioned,

 Where State or local authorities decline to enter into such arrangements, the owner or operator must document the refusal in the operating record.

(emphasis mine).  So what is the operating record?  It is not defined by regulation, but can be understood in this context to be a compilation of files, forms, records, reports, databases, maintenance activity, & etc. related to the operation of your facility.  It is here that you would document the refusal of state or local emergency response authorities to enter into the agreements specified throughout §265.37.  The regulations do not require retention of a record of the refusal, but given its importance to the status of your facility’s emergency response planning, I suggest you retain a copy for the lifetime of the facility, or until the situation changes, eg. the emergency response agency agrees to enter into agreements with you.

For a complete explanation of the requirements of 40 CFR 265.37 Arrangements with local authorities, I refer you to an earlier article I wrote on the topic.

So in sum, the recordkeeping requirements and my recommendations of 40 CFR 265, Subpart C Preparedness and Prevention for LQG’s and SQG’s:

  • Recommend you keep records of emergency equipment testing and maintenance for at least three years in the facility’s Operating Record.
  • Recommend you create and submit Written Preparedness and Prevention Information (PPI) to state and local emergency response authorities.  Do this in addition to other attempts to familiarize them with potential hazardous waste emergencies at your facility.  Retain a copy of the latest version of the PPI.
  • Recommend you document attempts to enter into agreements and make arrangements with state and local emergency responders.
  • Require you to document a refusal by state and local emergency responders to enter into those agreements and arrangements.  Documentation should be made in the facility’s operating record and retained on-site for the lifetime of the facility or until the situation changes.

Even when not specifically required by regulation to document your activities and/or maintain them as a record, it is a good idea and may be necessary in order to demonstrate compliance.  Make sure that the records you keep are orderly and readily available in the event of an inspection, or an emergency.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about the recordkeeping requirements of the RCRA regulations or if you require training:  Hazardous Waste Training, RCRA Training, or Hazardous Waste Personnel Training.