On November 28, 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvement Rule. The new rule reorganizes the hazardous waste generator regulations to make them easier to read and provide a better roadmap for generators to determine applicability of hazardous waste generator requirements. The regulations also address gaps in the existing regulations and provide very small quantity generators (VSQG), which is a new generator category that replaces the conditionally exempt small quantity generator (CESQ) category, greater flexibility for managing waste in a cost effective and protective manner. The EPA also took this opportunity to make technical corrections and remove obsolete references in the regulations.
The EPA incorporated into the regulations more explicit requirements for documenting solid and hazardous waste determinations. They codified the requirement that waste determinations must be made at the point of generation before dilution, mixing, or any other alteration of the waste. They also emphasized the importance for generators to make accurate waste determinations to ensure proper management of the waste under RCRA. This concept had been stated in previous regulatory preambles and guidance documents but never before incorporated into the regulations. The revised rules provide additional clarity on what constitutes “generator knowledge” when making a determination of whether a waste is hazardous and requires generators to maintain records of waste determinations at their facility.
The EPA also clarified container labeling requirements for large quantity generator (LQG) and small quantity generator (SQG) hazardous waste containers, containers in satellite accumulation areas (SAA) and containers in central accumulation areas (CAA). Containers in SAA and CAA’s must be labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste” and also be labeled with information identifying the hazards of the contents of the container. Generators may present the hazard by including the applicable hazardous waste characteristic (i.e., ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic), include hazard communication consistent with DOT requirements 49 CFR 172 Subpart E (labeling) or Subpart F (placarding), using a pictogram consistent with OSHA hazard communication standards or a chemical hazard label consistent with NFPA Code 704. The rules clarify that containers do not need to be labeled with the RCRA waste codes until the waste is offered for transportation offsite.
The revised regulations also provide flexibility to VSQG’s to aggregate hazardous waste at a separate LQG facility that is also operated by the generator to facilitate and aggregate shipments of the waste to a TSDF. This may allow flexibility for some generators for managing waste from VSQG facility’s that are located in the proximity to a company controlled LQG facility.