EPA Announces Publication of the Final Rule: Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements

    [released January 02, 2017]

    (Brookfield, WI – January 2, 2017) PharmEcology Services, WM Sustainability Services

    The EPA Administrator signed the Final Rule: Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements on October 28, 2016 and it was published in the Federal Register (FR) on November 28, 2016. The Final Rule and additional information can be accessed at https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/final-rule-hazardous-waste-generator-improvements.

    This final rule includes approximately 60 changes to the hazardous waste generator regulations that clarify existing requirements, increase flexibility, and improve environmental protection. These changes also reorganize the regulations to make them easier to follow and make certain technical corrections. Some examples of the changes in the final rule include the following:

    • Allowing very small quantity generators (VSQGs) to send hazardous waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) that is under the control of the same person and consolidate it there before sending it on to management at a RCRA-designated facility, provided certain conditions are met.
    • Allowing a VSQG or a small quantity generator (SQG) to maintain its existing generator category in the case  of an episodic event that would otherwise bump the generator into a more stringent generator regulatory category.
    • Requiring periodic re-notification for SQGs every four years (SQGs only notify once under the current federal system). States with more frequent re-notifications can retain their existing requirements.
    • Improving risk communication by revising the regulations for labeling and marking of containers and tanks to indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste contained inside.
    • Replacing the phrase “conditionally exempt small quantity generator” with the phrase “very small quantity generator” to be consistent with the other two generator categories—large quantity generators and small quantity generators.
    • Reorganizing the hazardous waste generator regulations by moving VSQG regulations from § 261.5 into 40 CFR part 262, where the regulations for SQGs and LQGs are located, and by moving  many of the generator regulations that are currently located in other parts of the hazardous waste standards into part 262 to replace the current lists of cross references.
    • Revising the regulations for completing the RCRA biennial report to be consistent with the current instructions distributed with the form.
    • Revising generator regulations to do with closure, waste determinations, submitting contingency plans, and other emergency preparedness and prevention areas.  

    In addition to the above, the Final Rule addresses technical corrections to inadvertent errors in the regulations, obsolete programs, and unclear citations.

    EPA is not finalizing certain provisions it proposed and took comment on in response to comments received in the public comment period. These include documentation of non-hazardous waste determinations; maintaining hazardous waste determinations until the facility closes; notification to the state or EPA of closure of a waste accumulation unit at a facility; requiring labeling hazardous waste units with the contents of the container; certain revisions to the drip pad requirements; and documentation of weekly inspections.

    The rule will be effective May 30, 2017 federally, six months after its publication date in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016, though in most states, the state must adopt the rule before it becomes effective.

    A webinar discussing the new rule, presented by EPA, can be accessed at https://clu-in.org/conf/tio/hwgenerators_113016/.