New Changes to Requirements for Hazardous Waste Generators – Part 3

In our prior posts on the upcoming RCRA changes, we provided an overview of eight significant areas of change that will impact Hazardous Waste Generators and will go into effect on May 30, 2017.  The eight changes we described previously are listed here for convenience:

  1. Reorganization of the Hazardous Waste Generator Regulations and modifies the organization of the Preamble.
  2. Changes to 40 CFR Part 260, which covers definitions
  3. Changes to 40 CFR Part 261, requiring biennial reporting by facilities that recycle hazardous waste without storing it.
  4. Changes to 40 CFR Part 262, which covers the standards applicable to generators of hazardous waste
  5. Additional changes to 40 CFR Part 262 for generators that would ordinarily have changed status due to an episodic event
  6. Additional changes to 40 CFR Part 262 clarifying expectations related to Preparedness, Prevention, and Emergency Procedures for SQG’s and LQG’s
  7. Technical corrections and changes to 40 CFR Part 257
  8. New discussion of “Electronic Tools to Streamline Hazardous Waste Reporting and Record keeping Requirements”

Today, we will tackle the second item from the list above – changes to 40 CFR Part 260, covering definitions.  Remember that EPA’s announced intent of the reorganization of the content is “to make the regulations more user-friendly, which EPA expects will improve generator compliance.”  Also remember, these changes are specific to Generators of Hazardous Waste.

The most significant change to the definitions in Part 260 is revisions to the categorization of waste generators.  EPA will codify definitions for three categories of hazardous waste generators as follows: Very Small Quantity Generator or “VSQG”, Small Quantity Generator or “SQG”, and Large Quantity Generator or “LQG”.  EPA will also define “acute hazardous waste” and “non-acute hazardous waste”.

For those of you who have been around for some time, it may appear that the only real change on the categorization is the notion of a VSQG and the elimination of a CESQG (“Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator”).  However, EPA noted that while the term “small quantity generator” is codified in the regulations, it is outdated.  Also, while “conditionally exempt small quantity generator” and “large quantity generator” have been used within the RCRA hazardous waste community for decades, their exact definitions have not been codified! Finally, the regulations previously differentiated between the categories, by using cumbersome very cumbersome language, thus EPA is hoping to improve the status quo.

Regarding the change of CESQG to VSQG, EPA desires to remove confusion around the notion of “conditionally exempt” since in reality all three categories of generators are conditionally exempt from certain requirements.  For example, VSQGs, SQGs, and LQGs are all exempt from storage facility permit, interim status, and certain operating requirements, thus the “conditionally exempt” or “CE” part of CESQG was not really appropriate.  VSQG is a more accurate description of what the definition of the category actually represents – generation of very small amounts of wastes.  The net result is that everywhere regulations previously applied to a CESQG will now apply to a VSQG.

Next, EPA is adding definitions for the terms “acute hazardous waste” and “non-acute hazardous waste.” These are required since they will now be used in the definitions of the generator categories of VSQG, SQG, and LQG.  To summarize here, an “acute hazardous waste” is a hazardous wastes that are particularly dangerous to human health.  Acute hazardous wastes will be those hazardous wastes that meet the listing criteria in § 261.11(a)(2) and are therefore listed in § 261.31 and assigned the hazard code of (H) or are listed in § 261.33(e) (the “P-list”).  The “non-acute hazardous wastes” will be any hazardous waste that is not acute.

For convenience, the table below summarizes the quantities for each category of waste generator, taking into account the concept of “acute” and “non-acute” hazardous wastes.

Quantity of acute hazardous waste generated in a calendar monthQuantity of non-acute hazardous waste generated in a calendar monthQuantity of residues from the cleanup of spilled acute hazardous waste generated in a calendar monthGenerator category
> 1 kgAny amountAny amountLQG.
Any amount≥ 1,000 kgAny amountLQG.
Any amountAny amount> 100 kgLQG.
≤ 1 kg> 100 kg and < 1,000 kg≤ 100 kgSQG.
≤ 1 kg≤ 100 kg≤ 100 kgVSQG.

Note: When calculating generator categories, the quantities of acute hazardous waste and non-acute hazardous waste are considered separately. Finally, EPA is adding a definition of a “central accumulation area” or “CAA”.  A central accumulation area is any on-site hazardous waste accumulation area with hazardous waste accumulating in units subject to either § 262.16 (for small quantity generators) or § 262.17 (for large quantity generators). EPA emphasizes that it is defining the term “central accumulation area” only as a matter of convenience since it is helpful for both the regulated community and the implementers to use a common term when referring to locations where generators accumulate hazardous waste other than satellite accumulation areas. Furthermore, the term is useful in establishing common language for regulations, guidance, etc. The addition of the term does not establish any new regulatory standards or burden on generators. The next post will cover changes to 40 CFR Part 261 – the identification and listing of hazardous wastes.

For more information on this topic or other issues associated with the beneficial use or recycling of chemicals or fuels, please email us or call us at 713-568-3651.