EPA has published a frequent questions page on its website that addresses the hazardous waste generator improvements rule (GIR), which took effect at the federal level on May 30, 2017. [81 FR 85732] A few of the answers that the agency published caught our eye because they provide insight into the agency’s position on select issues:
- How should a generator manage hazardous waste if awaiting test results to make a determination? Any generator managing a potentially hazardous waste should manage it in accordance with the generator regulations until such time that the generator is sure that the waste is not hazardous.
- Do satellite accumulation areas have to be included in a contingency plan? Does the point of generation need to be included also? Yes, to both. Emergency preparedness and prevention provisions under RCRA apply to areas where hazardous waste is generated and accumulated. This includes satellite accumulation areas and central accumulation areas, which both have to be covered by the contingency plan. According to EPA, by definition, the satellite accumulation areas need to be “at or near” the point of generation per §262.15(a); therefore, points of generation must also be covered by the contingency plan.
- If a generator was a large quantity generator (LQG) for all or most of its existence except the last few months prior to closure, does it have to comply with the closure requirements? EPA recommends that a generator that has had fluctuating generator categories work with its state regulators to determine whether it must comply with the closure requirements. Technically, if a generator has ever been an LQG during its lifetime, the closure provisions apply. However, EPA or the state will make a case-by-case determination based on the facts of the situation. For example, a facility that was an LQG for twenty years, and then dropped down to a small quantity generator (SQG) for six months before closing, would most likely be subject to the closure requirements. Conversely, a facility that was an SQG for twenty years, but was an LQG for the last six months before closure, may not have to undergo closure.
States are required to adopt the more-stringent provisions of the GIR by July 1, 2018, or July 1, 2019 if the state regulatory process includes a legislative step. States are not required to adopt provisions that are less stringent than the previous regulations. EPA has clarified on this Q&A page what GIR provisions states must adopt by noting those that are more and less stringent.
More-stringent provisions, which must be adopted by states, include:
- SQGs must renotify EPA of their status every four years. [§262.18(d)(1)]
- Incompatible wastes must not be placed in the same containers at a satellite accumulation area. [§262.15(a)(3)(i)]
- Satellite accumulation areas are subject to emergency preparedness and prevention requirements. [§262.15(a)(7–8)]
- Labels on waste containers, tanks, and containment buildings must identify the hazards of wastes being accumulated. [§§262.15(a)(5)(ii), 262.16(b)(5), 262.16(b)(6)(i)(B), 262.16(b)(6)(ii)(B), 262.17(a)(4), 262.17(a)(5)(i)(B), 262.17(a)(5)(ii)(B)]
- RCRA waste codes (e.g., F006, D001) must be marked on the waste containers prior to shipment offsite. [§262.32(b)]
- A generator must submit notification to EPA or the authorized state when preparing to close its facility and again when that closure has been completed. [§262.17(a)(8)(ii)]
- If an LQG that has accumulated hazardous waste in containers cannot meet standards to clean close its facility at the end of its life, it must close as a landfill. [§262.17(a)(8)(iii)(A)(4)]
- If a generator is an LQG any month of the year, it must complete the biennial report for all wastes generated in that year—not just the waste generated in the months it was an LQG. [§262.41]
- Recyclers that do not store recyclable materials prior to recycling must complete and submit a biennial report. [§261.6(c)(2)(iv)]
- LQGs must prepare Quick Reference Guides for their contingency plans and submit them to local responders. [§262.262(b)]
Less-stringent provisions, which states are not required to adopt, include:
- SQGs and very small quantity generators (VSQGs) do not have to count wastes from episodic events towards their generator category if they meet provisions in new Part 262, Subpart L. [§262.13(c)(8)]
- VSQGs may ship their wastes to an LQG under the control of the same person if they meet the provisions of new §§262.14(a)(5)(viii) and 262.17(f).
- LQGs may accumulate ignitable and reactive wastes within 15 meters (50 feet) of their property line if they receive a waiver from the local fire authorities. [§262.17(a)(1)(vi)(A)]
EPA Answers Questions on the Generator Improvements Rule.” RCRA Review: EPA Answers Questions on the Generator Improvements Rule, McCoy and Associates, 14 Mar. 2018, www.mccoyseminars.com/newsletter/article.cfm?artnum=292.