If you are a generator of hazardous you have likely heard of the new Generator Improvements Rule and may be curious about its potential impact on your responsibilities as a hazardous waste generator under the federal regulations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and those of your state. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief summary of this new rule and to provide links to other sources of information and articles I have written containing more in-depth explanations of individual components of the new rule. Be sure to check back frequently as this information is updated.
Purpose and Goals:
The purpose of the Generator Improvements Rule was to – in one rulemaking – clean up a lot of issues – both minor and major – throughout the regulations applicable to hazardous waste generators. The Generator Improvements Rule is a much-needed update of the hazardous waste generator regulatory program. Its revisions and clarifications affect practically every component of the generator regulatory program.
- Reorganize the regulations to make them more user-friendly and thus enable improved compliance by the regulated community.
- Provide greater flexibility for hazardous waste generators to manage waste in a cost-effective manner through episodic generation and VSQG-LQG consolidation provisions.
- Strengthen environmental protection by addressing identified gaps in the regulations.
- Clarify certain components of the hazardous waste generator program to address ambiguities and foster improved compliance.
Major Changes of Generator Improvements RuleThis table summarizes the significant regulatory changes brought about by the new Generator Improvements Rule. Changes are tabulated by generator category (VSQG, SQG, or LQG).
|LQG Consolidation of VSQG Wastes||X||X|
|Marking & Labeling||X||X|
|Marking RCRA Waste Codes||X||X|
|Contingency Plan Quick Reference Guide||X|
|Closure as Landfill if Can't Clean Close||X|
|Biennial Reporting by Recyclers who Don't Store||X||X|
History of the Generator Improvements Rule:
- Most of the existing generator rules were promulgated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in the 1980’s and are over thirty years old. Read: The History of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
- Throughout the years USEPA has taken a number of non-regulatory actions to respond to public comments and to improve the generator program. However, USEPA determined that many of the existing issues could only be resolved through a rulemaking.
- September 25, 2015: Proposed rule published in Federal Register.
- December 24, 2015: Due date for public comments to the proposed rule.
- October 28, 2016: Final rule signed.
- November 28, 2016: Final Rule published in Federal Register.
- Effective date (at the federal level and states without an authorized hazardous waste program): May 30, 2017.
Changes of the Generator Improvements Rule:
- Reorganization of generator regulations.
- Clarify requirements of hazardous waste determination.
- Clarify hazardous waste counting and determination of generator category.
- Name of Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) changed to Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG).
- Options for episodic generation of hazardous waste at VSQG and SQG.
- Marking and labeling.
- Waiver to 50′ rule for LQG.
- Clarify requirements for SQG accumulating hazardous waste in containment building or drip pad.
- Procedure for generator to demonstrate removal of hazardous waste from a tank.
- VSQG consolidation of hazardous waste at LQG.
- Clarify requirements for hazardous waste in satellite accumulation areas.
- More stringent requirements for emergency preparedness and prevention at SQG and LQG.
- More stringent requirements for the contingency plan and emergency procedures at an LQG.
- SQG re-notification of generator status.
- LQG of hazardous waste in containers must undergo closure as if it is a landfill if it fails clean close.
- Clarify distinction between independent requirements for all generators and conditions for exemption from TSDF regulations.
- New definitions in 40 CFR 260.10.
- Clarified prohibition on disposal of bulk or non-containerized liquid in landfill applies to a hazardous waste generator.
- Delete reference to obsolete provisions:
- Project XL
- Performance Track
- Technical corrections throughout generator regulations to improve readability.
Many changes proposed either by USEPA or interested parties during the comment period were not included in the final rule. They include:
- Generator must document a waste determination conducted on a non-hazardous waste.
- USEPA continues to recommend this as a best practice.
- Generator must maintain documentation of a waste determination as a record until facility closure.
- Generator must notify the state or USEPA of the closure of a waste accumulation unit. e.g. container accumulation area, tank, drip pad, or containment building.
- Generator must maintain documentation of weekly inspections of hazardous waste containers.
- Current USEPA regulations do not require documentation of a weekly inspection though the regulations of a state might.
- Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) is identified as the primary contact of an LQG or SQG.
- Requirement to make arrangements with LEPC – if appropriate – remain.
- SQG must make arrangements with appropriate local authorities as part of emergency preparedness and prevention.
- Requirement to attempt these arrangements remains.
More Stringent v. Less Stringent Requirements of the Generator Improvements Rule:
For generators in those states lacking an authorized hazardous waste program it’s simple: they will be subject to all of the provisions of the new rule on its effective date (05.30.17). For generators in states with an authorized hazardous waste program it’s a little more complicated. A state with an authorized hazardous waste program must adopt the provisions of the new rule that are more strict than existing regulations. However, a state with an authorized hazardous waste program has no requirement to adopt provisions of the new rule that are less stringent than, or equally stringent as, existing regulations – but may do so if it chooses.
Further complicating nationwide compliance with this new rule is that even for the more stringent requirements that authorized states must adopt, they are under no obligation to do so immediately. Authorized states will be allowed more than one year – until July 1, 2018 – to adopt the more stringent requirements of the new rule and until July 1, 2019 if a change to state law is needed.
More Stringent Provisions:
- SQG re-notification.
- Marking and labeling for wastes being accumulated.
- Notification of closure.
- Closure as a landfill for LQG accumulating hazardous waste in containers if unable to meet clean closure standards.
- Biennial reporting for entire year of hazardous waste generation for facility that was LQG for only a part of the year.
- Biennial reporting for recyclers who don’t store prior to recycling.
- Making and documenting arrangements with local emergency responders.
- Quick reference guide for contingency plan.
Less Stringent Provisions:
- LQG consolidation of VSQG waste.
- Episodic generation of hazardous waste.
- Waiver from 50-foot rule for LQG.