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The Status of the New Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Rule in Your State

The Status of the New Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Rule in Your State

Announced July 23, 2013 (read my article on the original notice in the Federal Register) and effective January 1, 2014, the USEPA created two conditional exclusions for solvent-contaminated wipes.  The first excluded certain reusable solvent-contaminated wipes from regulation as a solid waste.  The second excluded certain disposable solvent-contaminated wipes from regulation as a hazardous waste (read more about the Federal conditional exclusions here).  I think it would be great if this exclusion became effective nationwide as of January 31, 2014, that way the entire regulated community in the U.S. could benefit from the same exclusion while complying with the same regulations.

RCRA exclusion for solvent contaminated wipes

What is the status of the Solvent Wipe Rule in your state?

But this is not to be.

Because the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) allows states to manage their own hazardous waste regulations this Federal exclusion is immediately effective only in those states that lack RCRA authorization (read:  Does Your State Have an Authorized Hazardous Waste Program?)  Further, in those states that are authorized to enforce the RCRA regulations, the adoption of this regulation is optional since it represents a reduction in the requirements of the RCRA regulations.

So, as of May 14, 2014, the implementation of this new conditional exclusion looks like this:
  • The new rule went into effect January 31, 2014 in states and U.S. territories that lack an authorized hazardous waste program:
    • Iowa
    • Alaska
    • Puerto Rico
    • American Samoa
    • Northern Marianna Islands
  • The new rule has been adopted by reference (i.e. with no changes) by the following states which have an authorized hazardous waste program:
  • North Carolina.  Guidance information from the NC DENR here.
  • New Jersey
  • Florida.  Guidance information from Florida’s DEP (scroll to the bottom of the page) here.
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

And that’s it for implementation of the rule as of May 14, 2014.

For the remaining states and territories (What’s up Guam?), those that have RCRA authorization but have not yet adopted by reference the Federal rule, have three options:

  1. Adopt by reference the Federal condition exclusion in its entirety.
  2. Draft state regulations of the solvent wipe exclusion as long as it is not less stringent than the Federal rule.
  3. Decide not to adopt the exclusion in any form and revert to management of solvent-contaminated wipes as a hazardous waste.

I have spoken to several state environmental agency representatives about this and have hear a variety of – off the record – opinions on the potential implementation fo the solvent wipe rule in their state.  While some see its adoption by reference as inevitable, others have told me flatly of significant concerns with the Federal rule and the likelihood that their state will choose option #3 among the above.

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USEPA has provided a website to monitor the progress of state adoption of this new Federal rule.  Access this website regularly to determine the status of your state:
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/wastetypes/wasteid/solvents/wipes_fnl_rul_effctv.htm.

And of course, I’ll provide information here as it becomes known to me.  The below information is based on what I discover of a state’s regulations as I conduct research for my Onsite Training, so it’s spotty.  Also, many states continue to manage solvent wipes in the absence of regulations.  Therefore, a regulatory citation to hang your hat on is often not found.  Be sure to do your own research to determine the position of your state environmental agency.  Use the information below as guidance to get you started.

  • Arizona:  ADEQ intends to adopt the Federal Exclusion but as of March 2015 has no plans to do so in the near future.  Based on a conversation with Colleen Murray of the ADEQ on March 3, 2015 ADEQ will allow compliance with the Federal rule in the state of Arizona until such time as the rule is officially adopted.
  • California:  Cal EPA has not – and has no immediate plans to – adopt the Federal exclusion in any form.  In CA, management of solvent wipes is addressed by the Health & Safety Code 25144.6 Reusable Soiled Textile Material
  • Colorado:  “Colorado has chosen not to adopt the solvent-contaminated wipe rule; a Compliance Bulletin from August 2002:  Contaminated Shop Towels and Reusable Absorbents, is still in effect.  The generator must make a hazardous waste determination pursuant to Colorado hazardous waste regulations and manage the waste accordingly.”  Caren Johannes / CDPHE / Hazardous Materials & Waste Management Division on November 13, 2014.  Colorado’s interpretation for contaminated shop towles and reusable absorbants is more broad in its scope (includes all listed and characteristic waste codes) and less stringent in its requirements (no on-site time limit) than is the USEPA conditional exclusion.
  • Delaware:  Pursuant to a conversation with Bethany Fiske of the DNREC on January 20, 2015, DNREC has decided not to adopt the USEPA conditional exclusion for solvent-contaminated wipes in any form.  Further, effective June 1, 2014 DNREC rescinded its policy allowing for some relief from full hazardous waste regulation for certain solvent-contaminated wipes.  In Delaware a generator must manage a solvent-contaminated wipe according to all applicable solid waste and hazardous waste regulations.
  • Indiana:  Per a guidance document of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) dated July 27, 2015, the Federal Solvent Wipe Rule became effective in Indiana on July 3, 2015 with the following modifications:
    • Containers must be labeled Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes as in the Federal Rule, “or with other words indicating the contents of the container.”
    • IDEM policy allows for the conditional exclusion from hazardous waste of solvent-contaminated clothing as long as it is sent to an industrial laundry or drycleaner and subsequently reused.
  • Louisiana:  “Louisiana adopted the Contaminated Wipes final rule on July 20, 2014.”Per:  Don Caffery / P.E. Engineer 6 DCL / Waste Permits Division / LA Department of Environmental Quality
  • Michigan:  Pursuant to correspondence with Christine Grossman of MDEQ on November 28, 2014, “We expect to adopt part or all of it (the Federal exclusion) at our next rulemaking.  However, it hasn’t been reviewed and considered as we are not yet amidst a rulemaking.”  Currently, an exclusion from full regulation for contaminated textiles in Michigan can be found at R 299.9206 of the Michigan Administrative Code.
  • Minnesota:  Per a guidance document of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA):  Manage Sorbents : Towels, Wipes, and Rags (w-hw4-61), because Minnesota already allowed the laundering and reuse of some sorbents, and solid waste disposal of others, the MPCA and the Metro Counties did not adopt the EPA 2013 Final Rule for Solvent-Contaminated Wipes.  Instead, the MPCA guidance document referenced above presents common management options for hazardous waste sorbents in Minnesota.
  • Maine:  I was informed by Michael Hudson of ME DEP on March 24, 2014 that Maine is expected to adopt the new Federal rule – as is – into its state regulations some time before July 2015, possibly in 2014.  Until then, per Michael Hudson, Maine businesses have two options:
  • Nevada:  A conversation with a representative of the University of Nevada Environmental Program on September 12, 2014 revealed that while the NDEP intends to adopt the Federal rule as is – or with minor revisions, you never know – it cannot do so until its next state legislative session in September or October 2015.  Until that time, solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed as any other solid waste and, potentially, a hazardous waste.
  • Oklahoma:  Pursuant to a telephone conversation with Roarke Blackwell of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) on November 18, 2015, Oklahoma has adopted the Federal Rule for solvent-contaminated wipes.
  • Ohio:  As of October 31, 2015 Ohio adopted the federal solvent wipe rule into the Ohio Administrative Code.  Ohio’s rule is now identical to the Federal Regulations on the management of solvent contaminated wipes.  Ohio EPA Guidance: The Management of Solvent Contaminated Rags and Wipes.
  • Oregon:  From an email by Jeannette Acomb of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality:  As of April 9, 2015 OR DEQ is working on a rules package which will conclude later this year.  The Solvent-contaminated wipes rule is not included.  Oregon wants to take a closer look at the options and impacts of the rule for the state.  Therefore, it was postponed for further review to our next rulemaking on whether Oregon will be adopting it (entirely, partially or possibly not at all).  Under our proposed schedule, we anticipate concluding the next rulemaking late 2016.  In the meantime, the Agency’s current Rag Guidance (dated 1996) is still in effect with the caveat we do not guarantee that it will still be in effect tomorrow.
  • Pennsylvania:  From the FAQ page of the Pennsylvania DEP website: “Has Pennsylvania adopted the Federal Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Rule?
     The Federal Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Final Rule was published on July 31, 2013, and became effective January 30, 2014.   Pennsylvania incorporates this rule by reference at 25 Pa. Code § 260a.3 (e ), so this rule is now effective in Pennsylvania.”
  • Texas:  TCEQ announced on November 21, 2014 a rulemaking to incorporate the Federal rule regarding solvent contaminated wipes in its entirety into the state rule.  Though the announced effective date of the conditional exclusion in Texas is January 1, 2015, due to a procedural error the rule will not be effective until January 8, 2015.
  • Utah:  Telephone conversation with staff indicates that they expect UDEQ to adopt the Federal Wipe Rule Exclusion entirely.  However, they don’t know when; it could be 2015.  Until that time, UDEQ advises that generators manage their solvent-contaminated wipes according to the Federal Exclusion.
  • Wyoming:  Wyoming has decided to adopt the the USEPA conditional exclusion for solvent-contaminated wipes in its entirety.  Therefore, the Federal Rule will apply in Wyoming.  WDEQ expects the law finalizing the adoption to be signed by the Governor by the end of March 2015.

What is the status of the Solvent Wipe Rule in your state?  Will its implementation affect your operations?  And how significantly?  Contact me with any questions you may have about the Solvent Wipe Rule or any other aspect of the RCRA regulations.