The Generator Improvements Rule (Federal Register Volume 81, Issue 228 , November 28, 2016) includes some new elements to the RCRA – some of which are more stringent compared to the existing rules and some less stringent. The rule modified the Federal rules under RCRA and therefore has direct affect on hazardous waste generators located in States that have not been delegated RCRA authority (Iowa and Alaska), some other areas, including Tribal lands and States that have incorporated portions of the RCRA rules by reference into their authorized programs. Some of the key new requirements include:
New Generator Category – Very Small Quantity Generator
The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule includes a new generator category, Very Small Quality Generator (VSQG) which replaces the previous Conditional Exempt Small Quantity Generator – CESQG. This change was intended to eliminate some confusion where some small generators believed the CESQG designation exempted them from all RCRA rules, which it did not. It also acknowledges the fact that rules applicable to SQGs and LQG technically exempt them from some parts of RCRA also.
Re-Notification For SQGs
Under the existing RCRA rules, hazardous waste generators required to obtain an EPA ID number must submit a one-time notification to US EPA or the authorized State. The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule requires that SQGs re-notify the agency once every four years. The first re-notification will be required in 2021.
Episodic Hazardous Waste Generation
One of the persistent issues for hazardous waste generators has been when short term spikes in hazardous waste generation elevate facilities to a higher generator class, resulting the requirement to meet additional generator requirements. The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule addresses this issue by creating another type of waste generation – episodic hazardous waste generation.
Two types of episodic hazardous waste generation are created – planned and unplanned. Planned episodes, as the name suggests, can be planned ahead of time and include activities such has facility cleanups, obsolete inventory disposal, demolition projects, etc. Unplanned episodes include spills, fires, and other emergency incidents. Under the new rule, hazardous waste generated during these events will not count against monthly waste total and will not change generator status, if conditions are met.
Generators taking advantage of this option will be limited to one event per calendar; with opportunity to petition for one additional unplanned event in the same year.
For planned events the generator must:
- notify agency at least 30 days prior,
- identify start/end dates (60 day max),
- have EPA ID #, and
- ship within 60 days using a hazardous waste manifest.
For an unplanned event the generator must notify agency within 72 hr after incident. For either type of episode, the generator must label wastes “Episodic Hazardous Waste” and identify hazard characteristic (example, corrosive, flammable). Episodic waste totals are not added to monthly facility total; separate records must be kept of episodic wastes.
Changes To Hazardous Waste Labeling
The Generator Rule makes one additional requirement for labeling on hazardous waste containers. All tanks and containers must have a label identifying the specific hazard, such as corrosive or flammable.
Requirements For RCRA Contingency Plan
The new EPA rules modify some of the requirements for Contingency Plans maintained by LQGs:
- Eliminated requirement to include personal information (home phone, address) for emergency coordinators in Plan,
- More flexibility on location of emergency equipment,
- May not need to be at point of generation/storage, and
- More flexibility on posting emergency contact information
Lastly, new LQG facility will be required to prepare and submit Executive Summary document with eight required elements. This Executive Summary is intended to provide emergency responders rapid access to key information in the Contingency Plan, rather than sifting through a lengthy plan to find the information.
Because some of the new requirements are less stringent than current EPA rules, authorized States will not be required to add the rule changes to State rules. Only three revisions are more stringent than existing rules:
1. Requirement for SQGs to re-notify every four years,
2. Addition of label identifying hazard on hazardous waste containers and tanks, and
3. Requirement to prepare an Executive Summary document as part of a RCRA Contingency Plan.
All other elements of the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule are left to the discretion of the State agency to include or not, or are additional clarifications of existing rules and require no action by State agencies.
Caltha is currently assisting hazardous waste generators in updating training materials and providing focused employee training sessions to cover these new requirements. For more information go to Employer’s Environmental Health and Safety Training Center.