The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule - What All Hazardous Waste Generators Need to Know



The U.S. EPA published the anticipated Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule on November 28, 2016.  This regulation affects all hazardous waste generators regardless of size, in any industry or geographical location governed by the United States.  The Federal effective date is May 30, 2017.  

This rule includes over 60 changes, primarily to 40 CFR 262, but affecting all sections from 260 through 279.  EPA’s goals are to make these regulations easier to understand, clarify language that is outdated or ambiguous, and provide additional flexibility in hazardous waste management.  While EPA intends for these regulations to improve generator compliance without increasing regulatory burden, there is an inherent risk and burden in any regulatory change.

A few provisions that will give generators more operational and regulatory flexibility:

  • An alternative management option for wastes from Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs, renamed in this rule to Very Small Quantity Generators, or VSQG), which allows those VSQG wastes to be accumulated at a Large Quantity Generator (LQG) facility under the control of the same person.
  • A contingent management approach for Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) and VSQGs who temporarily trigger a higher generator level, allowing them to retain their generator status during the episode of higher waste generation, provided specified conditions are met.
  • A new waiver option for facilities storing ignitable and reactive wastes within 50 feet of the property line.

Other changes that may impact how generators manage their hazardous wastes:

  • Quadrennial (every four years) SQG notifications
  • Documentation of all hazardous waste determinations
  • Changes in labeling requirements
  • Clarifications regarding satellite accumulation and central accumulation (90-day and 180-day storage) requirements
  • LQG closure notification requirements for accumulation (90-day storage) areas
  • Various additional changes to notification, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements, and changes to generator operating requirements

Additional issues that may be of interest:

  • Reorganization of all generator regulations into 40 CFR 262
  • Renaming “CESQG” to “VSQG”

While few of the individual changes pose a significant burden on generators, there are so many of them that facilities will need to be vigilant in ensuring that no single regulatory change is overlooked or forgotten.

All states must adopt the more stringent provisions, but adoption of any less-stringent-than or equally-stringent provision is optional, so state-by-state evaluation remains critical as always.

The effective date is May 30, 2017 at the Federal level and for all states not authorized for the RCRA program (i.e., Alaska, Iowa, and the Tribal Nations).  Authorized states and territories will adopt the rule over the next two years, with the expected range of state effective dates generally between May 2018 and December 2019.

View the entire rule at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/11/28/2016-27429/hazardous-waste-generator-improvements-rule.  For additional information, please contact Liane Hetherington-Ward at lianehw@syaeng.com or (708) 737-7162.