By Stephen Barlas, Contributing Writer
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started a rulemaking effort to revise its hazardous waste regulations.
The changes now being proposed could affect
as many as 543,000 industrial companies. About
470,000 are conditionally exempt small-quantity
generators (CESQGs), as the EPA describes them,
that will be affected only if they choose to take advantage of two voluntary programs being proposed.
(CESQGs generate 100 kilograms or less of nonacute
hazardous waste and 1 kg or less of acute hazardous waste in a calendar month.) The other two categories, with higher thresholds, are small-quantity
generator (SQG) and large-quantity generator (LQG).
Regulatory requirements increase for each higher
category. According to the EPA, among the manufacturing sectors that will be affected are metal
manufacturing and electroplating.
Probably the biggest change being proposed has to
do with documentation and recordkeeping. The EPA
is proposing to revise the recordkeeping regulations
to require SQGs and LQGs making waste decisions to
document and maintain records of all their hazardous waste determinations, including incidents where
solid waste is found not to be hazardous waste.
The last part of that requirement, the solid waste
determination, is the critical new ingredient here.
CESQGs are not required to do this documentation, but the EPA notes they would be smart to
do so on a voluntary basis. For example, if an EPA
or state inspector visits a small job shop and the
owner cannot produce the correct records, the inspector can bump the company up from a CESQG
to a SQG, meaning the company suddenly has a lot
more requirements to worry about. If the CESQG is
already keeping detailed documentation, including
information on solid waste determination, then it
doesn’t have anything to worry about.
Going forward, if this proposed rule becomes final, the EPA will be placing a new emphasis on generators being able to show “due diligence” to ensure
a solid waste is not a hazardous waste, and if it is
hazardous, that it is characterized accurately. The
EPA is emphasizing that a generator identifying all
possible hazardous waste codes, as defined by the
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, on its
manifest or container marking is not doing enough;
those simple efforts do not satisfy the requirement
to make an accurate waste determination.
The EPA also is proposing to allow, for the first time,
a CESQG to send its waste to an LQG that is under the
control of the same person. So a small metalworking
Read more from Stephen Barlas at www.thefabricator.com/author/stephen-barlas
EPA proposes changes to
hazardous waste generator rules
Recordkeeping requirements to be increased
company that is a subsidiary of a larger company
could send its waste to the parent company without
the parent company having to obtain, for example, a
storage permit or meet other requirements.
These proposed changes are just a few of the 60
the EPA is considering.
On a separate but related issue, the EPA’s efforts
to establish what it’s calling an “e-Manifest” for hazardous waste reporting by generators has run into
trouble, apparently. The reason Congress passed
the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act in 2012 was to make life easier for generators of all sizes and make it easier for the EPA and
the states to track shipments. Congress authorized
$7 million over three years to get the system up and
running and required that after that period EPA collect user fees to run the e-Manifest system.
Three years have passed. The EPA has blown
through the $7 million, but the system won’t be
operational until 2018, if then. So the agency needs
more federal funding.
Congress may balk.
“If this system is going to survive, it’s up to the
agency to help us get to the bottom of what is going
on here and, if merited, make the case to others that
e-Manifest’s launch needs further authorization and
more funding,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee.
Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov
House Subcommittee on Environment and the
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