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40 CFR 265.32 – Required Equipment for Emergency Preparedness and Response

40 CFR 265.32 – Required Equipment for Emergency Preparedness and Response

In the previous article of this series I described the requirements of 40 CFR 265.31 – Maintenance and operation of facility.  That section was not filled with a lot of specific requirements but instead set a general performance standard to prevent a release of hazardous waste.

This article will research and explain the next section of Part 265, that of 40 CFR 265.32 – Required equipment.

40 CFR 265.32 reads:

All facilities must be equipped with the following, unless none of the hazards posed by waste handled at the facility could require a particular kind of equipment specified below:

(a) An internal communications or alarm system capable of providing immediate emergency instruction (voice or signal) to facility personnel;

(b) A device, such as a telephone (immediately available at the scene of operations) or a hand-held two-way radio, capable of summoning emergency assistance from local police departments, fire departments, or State or local emergency response teams;

(c) Portable fire extinguishers, fire control equipment (including special extinguishing equipment, such as that using foam, inert gas, or dry chemicals), spill control equipment, and decontamination equipment; and

(d) Water at adequate volume and pressure to supply water hose streams, or foam producing equipment, or automatic sprinklers, or water spray systems.

Though the title of this section “Required equipment” seems to leave little room for interpretation, the first statement provides you with the authority and the responsibility to determine what emergency response equipment is necessary at your facility based on the hazards posed by the waste you handle.  Therefore, if you determine that your hazardous waste does not pose a substantial fire risk (eg. hydrochloric acid) your compliance with the fire suppression requirements of paragraphs (c) and (d) could be adjusted accordingly.  However, with the example given (hydrochloric acid waste) your compliance with the requirement to provide spill control and decon equipment in paragraph (c) would need to be adjusted accordingly.  It is up to you as the generator of the waste to determine what hazards are present and what is the appropriate response.  It will be up to the USEPA or authorized State agency to decide if you got it right.

Notice that paragraph (a) requires “immediate emergency instruction” by voice or signal to all facility personnel.  In other words the system must be able, at a minimum, to tell people what has happened and where, what is the nature of the emergency, and how they are to take steps to protect themselves.  It may also be necessary to provide additional information to those facility personnel who have a specific function in an emergency.  Does your system provide instruction?  Or, does it merely inform people that something has gone wrong somewhere and someone is going to have to do something about it?

Paragraph (b) does not specify what kind of “device” is required, but does provide two acceptable options:

  1. A telephone immediately available at the scene of operations, or;
  2. A hand-held two-way radio.

Whatever the device, it must be immediately available wherever an activity involving the hazardous waste takes place.  This could be at the point of generation, in storage, in transit between these points, or elsewhere.  You must also consider non-routine activities (such as tank clean-outs) where a hazardous waste might be handled away from its normal areas.  In these cases you still must ensure the communication device is immediately available.  And don’t rely on your employees to provide their own cell-phones; it is your responsibility to comply with these regulations, not theirs.  The purpose of the device is to be able to summon off-site professionals to assist in an emergency.  This will require (or at least strongly encourage) the posting of emergency contact information with phone numbers wherever it may be useful to facility personnel.

One way to comply with the requirements of both paragraphs (a) and (b) is to route all emergency calls to a central on-site operator who then makes the necessary on-site and off-site communications.  However, you must ensure this system works seamlessly and does not delay the communication of a hazardous waste emergency.

Paragraph (c) requires you to provide three things:

  1. Fire control equipment (and lists several examples);
  2. Spill control equipment, and;
  3. Decontamination equipment.

Your compliance with this paragraph will vary greatly depending on the types, amounts, and storage locations of your hazardous waste.  Clearly an emphasis is put on fire suppression, so make certain you have addressed this at your facility based on the hazards present.  You may also wish to consider other factors that may contribute to your fire risk even though they have nothing to do with your hazardous waste, such as:

  • The construction materials of any structures.
  • Location of natural gas or other fuel supply to the structure.
  • Location, quantity, and type of other flammable materials (not wastes) stored on-site.
  • Facility location and surrounding area.

Outside experts such as the Fire Marshall, local fire department, and insurance provider may be able to assist you in determining the risk of fire at your facility as a whole and specifically the hazards posed by your waste.

Spill control equipment and decontamination equipment are no less important than fire suppression and will also require you to consider the potential hazards posed by your waste and what equipment might be necessary to respond to a release of hazardous waste.  Make certain your equipment is readily available, kept up-to-date (some spill absorbents and acid/base neutralizers may lose their effectiveness over time) and in sufficient quantities to respond to any release of a hazardous waste at your facility. Keep in mind that spill control and clean-up equipment are likely to be consumed over time for small spills and housekeeping and then may not be available in the event of a real emergency.  Routine inspections of this equipment to ensure it is present and operating is a good idea.

Emphasizing the USEPA’s concern of a fire, paragraph (d) requires you as the generator to ensure adequate water is available on-site to supply your fire suppression system.  If you are connected to city water or your own well, you must ensure that it will provide the volume and velocity of water that you require.  If you do not feel the present supply is adequate, then you will have to come up with some other means such as installing a water tower or surface impoundment to provide the necessary quantity of water.  You must also have a means to deliver that water to your fire suppression system.

This section of Part 265 could be costly for you as it may require the purchase of expensive equipment.  However, even if not required by regulation it’s a good idea to have this equipment anyway.  In that respect, it’s a lot like training.  Annual training of facility personnel is only required for a large quantity generator of hazardous waste, a small quantity generator has a somewhat lower responsibility to train, while a conditionally exempt small quantity generator has no training requirement at all.  However, no matter your hazardous waste generator status, training is always a good idea.

Look for my next article in this series where I’ll take a close look at 40 CFR 265.33 – Testing and maintenance of equipment.

Please contact me to discuss the requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart C – Preparedness and prevention, the training requirements for facility personnel, or any other questions you may have about the management of hazardous waste.