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Weekly Inspections of Hazardous Waste Containers in Alabama

Weekly Inspections of Hazardous Waste Containers in Alabama

In an earlier article I explained the requirements of the USEPA for Large and Small Quantity Generators of hazardous waste to conduct weekly inspections of hazardous waste containers.  Briefly, the USEPA, along with most states with authorized hazardous waste programs, requires an LQG or SQG to conduct inspections of areas where hazardous waste containers are stored, “At least weekly…”  Trouble is, “weekly” is not defined by USEPA or the regulations of most states (Alabama being one of the exceptions), leaving it up to the enforcing agency to interpret.  Most, in my experience, interpret “weekly” as every seven days, meaning inspections should not be completed more than seven days apart.  Alabama, however, takes a different approach.

The Alabama Administrative Code at 335-14-3-.03 Pre-Transport Requirements requires both LQG’s [at 335-14-3-.03(5)(a)1(i)] and SQG’s [at 335-14-3-.03(5)(d)] to comply with 335-14-6-.09 Use and Management of Containers.  335-14-6-.09(5) Inspections reads:

Inspections. The owner or operator must inspect areas where containers are stored, at least weekly, looking for leaks and for deterioration of containers and the containment system caused by corrosion or other factors. The owner or operator must also note the number and capacity of hazardous waste containers present. These inspections must be documented in accordance with Rule 335-14-6-.02(6)(d).

Here, as in the Federal regulations, inspections must be completed, “…at least weekly…”  The difference in the regulations of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is that it defines what it means by “weekly” and “week” at 335-14-1-.02(1):

308. “Week” means a calendar week (e.g. Sunday-Saturday).
309. “Weekly” means once during each calendar week.

So, in order to comply with 335-14-6-.09(5), an LQG or SQG must ensure an inspection is conducted each calendar week, notice no distinction is made of whether or not the facility is in operation during the week (more on that later).  This would allow for the following scenario in compliance with ADEM regulations but not by most states:

A hazardous waste generator (LQG or SQG) conducts an inspection of its hazardous waste container storage area on Monday October 14th.  Its next inspection is completed Friday October 25th, 11 days apart.

The ADEM official I spoke with indicated that the weekly inspection must be conducted despite periods when the facility may not be in operation, such as holidays or shut-downs (planned or unplanned).

During inspections, the owner or operator should look for the following:

  • Leaking containers.
  • Signs of container deterioration.
  • Signs of secondary containment (required in Alabama) deterioration.
  • Also, note the number and type of hazardous waste containers present.

Inspections must be documented and records maintained per 335-14-5-.02(6)(d), which requires:

  • Inspections must be recorded in an inspection log or summary.
  • Records of inspections must be maintained for at least three (3) years from the date of the inspection.
  • Inspection record must include, at a minimum:
    • Date and time of inspection.
    • Name of inspector.
    • Notation of observations made.
    • Date and nature of any repairs or remedial actions.

Refer to this article for the USEPA requirements for both weekly and daily inspection documentation and recordkeeping.

Alabama, like other states with authorized hazardous waste programs, closely follows the Federal regulations in some situations, and then in others, goes its own way.  As a generator of hazardous waste you must be aware of the regulations of your state in addition to those of the USEPA.  My Onsite Training provides you and your employees with the site-specific, state regulatory training necessary.  Please contact me for a free training consultation.