Announcements from regulatory agencies of the US Government in the Federal Register can have a significant impact on your business. Therefore it’s important for you to continuously monitor Federal Register publications for announcements applicable to your operations. I can help you to do this.
Sometimes an announcement in the Federal Register calls for a more thorough explanation than what is conveyed by the headline; that is the point of this article. Here I will briefly summarize, and provide access to more information, on a specific Federal Register announcement: the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
What agency is making the announcement?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
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When was this announced in the Federal Register?
The proposed Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule was signed by the EPA Administrator on August 31, 2015. It was published in the Federal Register on September 25, 2015.
Any other dates I need to know?
Comments on this proposed rule must be received by November 24, 2015. The submittal requirements for comments are included in the Federal Register.
Due to requests from the regulated community, EPA is extending the deadline for the comment period by 30 days to December 24, 2015. The notice of this extension was published in the Federal Register on November 5, 2015.
What type of action is this?
This is a proposed rule, meaning the issuing Agency is proposing a new rule or a revision to an existing rule. This is not a final rule, nor may it ever be one. Comments submitted by interested parties may delay, change, or eliminate this proposed rule.
What regulations may be impacted?
40 CFR Parts 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 268, 270, 273, and 279. In short, pretty much every regulation pertaining to a generator of hazardous waste. This is big. Whatever form this proposed rule takes when it becomes a final rule – and don’t hold your breath – it will have a significant impact on all hazardous waste generators. Especially Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) and Small Quantity Generators (SQGs).
How is the announcement identified in the Federal Register?
Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Pages 57917 – 58012 [FR DOC # 2015-23166]
I don’t have all day. Can you sum it up for me and I’ll determine if I need to read the whole thing?
USEPA is proposing to revise the hazardous waste generator regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Proposed revisions and improvements include:
- Revise certain components of the hazardous waste generator regulatory program, primarily 40 CFR 261.5 (related to CESQGs) and 40 CFR part 262 (related to SQGs and LQGs). This will require close observation by the regulated community since these revisions may be small but significant and will be interspersed throughout all of the hazardous waste generator regulations.
- Address gaps in the regulations. This may result in an expansion in the scope of these regulations into activities that are currently not regulated.
- Provide greater flexibility for hazardous waste generators to manage their hazardous waste in a cost-effective and protective manner. This is good for hazardous waste generators but may be opposed by persons outside the regulated community.
- Reorganize the hazardous waste generator regulations to make them more user-friendly and thus improve their usability by the regulated community. This is good for hazardous waste generators but it will also make the regulations more accessible for citizen watch dog groups.
- Make technical corrections and conforming changes to address inadvertent errors, remove obsolete references to programs that no longer exist (like the National Environmental Performance Track), and improve the readability of the regulations. Readability is a good thing but it’s also a two way street. The regulations will be more readable to a wider audience, both within and without the regulated community.
Other highlights of the proposed rule:
- A voluntary program will allow for the consolidation of waste from a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) by LQGs under the same ownership. I submitted a comment (my first!) on this aspect of the proposed rule. My comment was a proposal to expand this program to include the consolidation of waste from a CESQG by a Small Quantity Generator (SQG) under the same ownership. You can review my comments by going to Regulations.gov and searching for my Comment Tracking Number (1jz-8m6t-jw6v). Decide if you wish to comment on this or any other aspect of this Proposed Rule. It’s really easy!
- A voluntary program will allow generators to temporarily change generator status (i.e. SQG to LQG or CESQG to SQG or LQG) episodically.
- Allow LQGs to accumulate reactive or ignitable hazardous waste within 50’ of their property line if granted a waiver from their local fire department.
- Clarify the hazardous waste generator status determination for a facility that generates both acute and non-acute hazardous waste.
- Replace the term Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) with Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG).
- Revise container closure regulations found in 40 CFR 262.34(a)(1) for LQGs.
- Move all of the generator regulations – including those for CESQGs now found in 40 CFR 261.5 – into 40 CFR part 262.
- Agency is also proposing changes to parts 260, 263, 264, 265, 268, 270, 273, and 279 mostly to maintain consistency with the proposed changes in part 262.
- Revise the definition of small quantity generator in 40 CFR 260.10 as well as add definitions for:
- Large quantity generator
- Conditionally exempt small quantity generator (and change to very small quantity generator)
- Central accumulation area.
- Revise the regulations for labeling and marking of containers, tanks, drip pads, and containment buildings used for the accumulation of hazardous waste.
- Add a provision that hazardous waste generators are prohibited from disposing liquid hazardous waste in landfills.
This represents a substantial change to the USEPA hazardous waste regulations. I suspect this will generate a lot of comments from interested parties. USEPA’s schedule for implementation of the Final Rule is unknown but I suspect – given the nature of the proposed rule – that it will take some time for everyone to have their say and for the Agency to respond with further revisions. It could take years or it might all be over in a few months and we’ll have new rules – at the Federal level – for hazardous waste generators. Since some of these rules are less strict than the existing, states with an authorized hazardous waste program will have the option of whether or not they wish to adopt them.
Where can I look for more information?
Or subscribe to my monthly newsletter. I’ll be writing articles on this as information becomes available and as I have time to write.
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USEPA has created a website with more information about the proposed rule: Proposed Rule: Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements
If you have any specific questions about this new proposed rule or require training to ensure you are in compliance with both Federal and State regulations, please contact me.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim O’Leary, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, (MC: 5304P), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, (703) 308–8827, (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kathy Lett, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, (MC: 5304P), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, (703) 605–0761, (lett.kathy@ epa.gov).