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The Hazardous Waste Determination

The Hazardous Waste Determination

To paraphrase 40 CFR 262.11:  A person who generates a solid waste must determine if that waste is a hazardous waste using the following method:

  1. Is it excluded from regulation?man with question mark
  2. Is it a listed hazardous waste?
  3. Is it a characteristic hazardous waste?

An in-depth explanation of the process of the Hazardous Waste Determination will have to wait for another article.  The purpose of this article is to make clear who must complete a Hazardous Waste Determination and what it entails.  From the simple segment of the regulations above, the US EPA and authorized states have clarified the following:

  1. A “person” is any individual or the business or government entity they represent.  This previous article explains this term more in-depth, but rest assured, if you own a business or work for a business or government entity, including the US Military, you are a person in the eyes of the US EPA and therefore subject to the regulations.
  2. The requirement to complete a Hazardous Waste Determination applies to all status of hazardous waste generators.
    • The requirement for a Large Quantity Generator (LQG) can be found at 40 CFR 262.40(c).
    • The requirement for a Small Quantity Generator (SQG) can also be found at 40 CFR 262.40(c) referenced from 40 CFR 262.44(a).
    • And in an interpretation letter, US EPA clarified that the requirement to conduct a Hazardous Waste Determination applies to a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) as well (RO14030).  However, a CESQG is not required to retain records of its Hazardous Waste Determination, though it is a good idea.
  3. If you are a “person” (see #1 above) and if you are any status of hazardous waste generator (see #2 above) then you must complete a Hazardous Waste Determination.  It is not an option or a best management practice.  You can face serious fines for not completing the Hazardous Waste Determination.
  4. Your Hazardous Waste Determination must be documented and a record of it maintained for at least three years from the last date the waste was sent off-site or remained on-site for treatment, storage, or disposal.
  5. A Hazardous Waste Determination must be made for all solid waste that you generate.  This is important, because this extends the requirement to all of your waste, not just the hazardous waste.  A solid waste is defined at 40 CFR 261.2 as, “…any discarded material…” not excluded by regulation.  The full definition of a solid waste could take several more articles, and may require more research on your part, but suffice to say that if you are going to throw away or recycle a waste from an industrial or commercial process (including government entities) than it is a solid waste.  And all solid waste must have a documented record of its Hazardous Waste Determination.  I run the risk of repeating myself, but I think it an important enough point, and one I misunderstood in the past, that a documented record of a Hazardous Waste Determination is required for all of the waste you generate, whether hazardous or non-hazardous.

Read this article to learn if your Hazardous Waste Determination must be analysis-based or knowledge-based.

I confess that I am still learning the regulations as I write these articles, answer questions from my trainees, and conduct my training seminars.  I don’t think there will ever come a day where I sit back and say that I know it all, and you shouldn’t either.  Good training that is reasonably priced and readily available is hard to find, but contact me and I will help you to get the training you need (Hazardous Waste Personnel and HazMat Employee) to come into compliance and stay there.