On November 28, 2016, the EPA published its final ruling that revised Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) hazardous waste generator regulatory program. According to the EPA, “the new ruling is intended to provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed to better fit today's business operations, enhance the safety of facilities that create hazardous waste and improve the response capabilities of emergency responders by improving risk communication.” The final rule goes into effect on May 30, 2017.
Highlights of New RCRA Rule
- Reorganized hazardous waste generator regulations to make them more user-friendly, and thus improve their usability by the regulated community.
- Provide a better understanding of how the RCRA hazardous waste generator regulatory program works.
- Address gaps in the existing regulations to strengthen environmental protection.
- Provide greater flexibility for hazardous waste generators to manage their hazardous waste in a cost-effective and protective manner.
- Make technical corrections and conforming changes to address inadvertent errors and remove obsolete references to programs that no longer exist.
This final rule includes over 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. The new ruling is aimed at the following:
User-Friendly and Flexibility
- Allowing a hazardous waste generator to avoid increased burden of a higher generator status when generating episodic waste provided the episodic waste is properly managed.
- Allowing a very small quantity generator (VSQG) to send its hazardous waste to a large quantity generator under control of the same person.
Improved Environmental Protection
- Updating the emergency response and contingency planning provisions for small quantity generators (SQGs) and large quantity generators (LQGs) to include Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC).
- Requiring periodic re-notification for SQGs every four years (SQGs only notify once under the current system).
- Improved labeling and marking that clearly indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste contained inside of containers and tanks.
Improve Generator Compliance
- Clarification on generator categories and applicable guidelines regarding acute and non-acute hazardous waste.
- Revises RCRA biennial reporting inconsistencies.
- Replaces the phrase “conditionally exempt small quantity generator” with the phrase “very small quantity generator” to be consistent with the LQGs and SQGs generator categories.
Reorganization Regulations and Technical Corrections
- VSQG regulations are moved to 40 CFR part 262, where the regulations for SQGs and LQGs are located.
- Consolidates various generator regulations from other parts of the hazardous waste standards into 40 CFR part 262 to replace the current lists of cross references.
- Corrects inadvertent errors in the regulations, obsolete programs, and unclear citations.
For a complete synopsis of the new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, read the entire rule in the Federal Register.