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The RCRA Regulations for a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator of Hazardous Waste

The RCRA Regulations for a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator of Hazardous Waste

I spend so much time and energy researching the regulations applicable to both Large and Small Quantity Generators of hazardous waste (LQG & SQG) that I can sometimes forget about the regulations that apply to the smallest of hazardous waste generators:  The Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG).  While exempt from most of the requirements of an SQG or LQG, the CESQG does have some applicable regulations.  A CESQG must comply with the regulations (Federal and state) the same way that an LQG or SQG must comply with the regulations applicable to their status.  The purpose of this article is to explain the RCRA regulations applicable to a CESQG and to provide recommended practices (not found in the regulations) that can ensure compliance, or at least a way to demonstrate it.

40 CFR 261.5 is the place where the CESQG is defined and its regulatory requirements explained.

In order to remain a CESQG, a facility must not generate wastes above the following thresholds each calendar month:

  • 100 kg (~220 lbs) of hazardous waste.
  • 1 kg (~2.2 lbs) of acute hazardous waste.
  • 100 kg of residue or contaminated soil, waste, or other debris resulting from the clean-up of a spill, into or on any land or water, of any acute hazardous wastes.

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If a CESQG based on the generation of hazardous waste and acute hazardous waste, then you must comply with the following in order to maintain that status:

  1. §261.5(g)(1):  Complete the Hazardous Waste Determination pursuant to §262.11.
  2. §261.5(g)(2):  Do not accumulate ≥1,000 kg of hazardous waste on-site at one time.  If so, the CESQG becomes subject to all of the requirements of a Small Quantity Generator (SQG).
  3. §261.5(g)(3):  Treat or dispose of hazardous waste on-site or ensure delivery to an off-site treatment, storage or disposal facility.  Either of which must be one of the following:
    • Permitted by the USEPA to manage hazardous waste.
    • Authorized by a state to manage hazardous waste if that state has an authorized hazardous waste program under RCRA.
    • Permitted by a state to manage municipal solid waste.
    • Permitted by a state to manage non-municipal non-hazardous waste.
    • Beneficially uses or reuses, or legitimately recycles or reclaims its waste; or treats its waste prior to beneficial use or reuse, or legitimate recycling or reclamation.
    • For universal waste, a universal waste handler or destination facility subject to the requirements of part 273 of this chapter.

And that’s it!

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If in compliance with the three basic requirements identified above, the hazardous waste generated by a CESQG is excluded from full regulation under this section, this includes the following.  (Actually, because its excluded, it’s not really a “hazardous waste” at all).

  • Hazardous waste codes.
  • On-site accumulation time limits.  Remember the on-site accumulation weight limit at 40 CFR 261.5(g)(2).
  • Container management.  However, storage containers should not be leaking, bulging, rusted, or incompatible with the waste stored in them.
  • Personnel training.  Always a good idea, though.
  • Recordkeeping.  Though, it is a good idea to maintain enough records to demonstrate your generator status and that the Hazardous Waste Determination was completed.
  • Container labeling and marking.  However, OSHA requires the identification of hazards in the workplace.
  • Closed container.
  • Land Disposal Restrictions.
  • The Emergency Preparedness and Prevention requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart C.
  • The Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart D.
  • Use of the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest for off-site shipments.  This has significant ramifications for the transportation of the waste since the PHMSA/USDOT definition of a hazardous waste depends upon the USEPA’s requirement to use the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest.
  • Weekly inspections of containers.
  • Biennial reporting.  Annual in some states.

Refer to this USEPA website for more information regarding the CESQG status:  USEPA Hazardous Waste Generator Information – CESQG


May a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator of hazardous waste transport their waste from a point of generation on one property to another non-contiguous property (both properties owned by the generator) for the purposes of consolidation prior to off-site transportation for disposal?


No.  In order to remain exempt from RCRA regulations a CESQG must ensure that its waste is transported to one of the facilities identified at §261.5(g)(3) or §261.5(f)(3).

However, just like a lot of other hazardous waste regulations under RCRA a state with an authorized hazardous waste program can make its regulations more strict and more broad than those of the USEPA.  Using this authority, some states have eliminated the CESQG as a generator status.  An example of this is California which only recognizes the Federal CESQG status for waste that is hazardous for the toxicity characteristic for silver (D011).  Be sure to check with your state regulatory agency to ensure compliance.

My Training Seminars and Webinars are a great way to learn the Federal regulations (with some reference to state regulations), but if you really want in-depth Hazardous Waste Personnel Training that focuses on the regulations of your state, then my Onsite Training is the way to go.  Training includes a site visit and consultation the day before the scheduled training so you have ample opportunities to get your questions answered.

Hazardous Waste Personnel Training and the CESQG

My Onsite Training can ensure a CESQG stays in compliance

Even a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator will benefit from my training.  Please contact me for a free training consultation.

Daniels Training Services