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Can you Treat Waste Without a Permit?

  
  
  

Can you Treat Waste Without a PermitA recent article posted by the Environmental Resource Center raised an interesting question; can you treat waste without a permit?  Surprisingly enough, in some cases, you can. 40 CFR 270.1(c) states that hazardous wastes listed in 40 CFR 261 require a permit for treatment, storage, and disposal.  In 40 CFR 270.1(c)(2), however, you can find a list of exclusions from the requirement to have a RCRA permit.  These exclusions include the following generator types and instances:

  • “Generators who accumulate hazardous waste on-site for less than the time periods provided in 40 CFR 262.34.
  • Farmers who dispose of hazardous waste pesticides from their own use as provided in §262.70 of this chapter;
  • Persons who own or operate facilities solely for the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste excluded from regulations under this part by 40 CFR 261.4 or 261.5 (small generator exemption).
  • Owners or operators of totally enclosed treatment facilities as defined in 40 CFR 260.10.
  • Owners and operators of elementary neutralization units or wastewater treatment units as defined in 40 CFR 260.10.
  • Transporters storing manifested shipments of hazardous waste in containers meeting the requirements of 40 CFR 262.30 at a transfer facility for a period of ten days or less.
  • Persons adding absorbent material to waste in a container…and persons adding waste to absorbent material in a container, provided that these actions occur at the time waste is first placed in the container; and
  • Universal waste handlers and universal waste transporters managing batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and / or lamps. “ [1]

According to the ERC, “40 CFR 262.34 requirements include the 90-day and 180-day accumulation regulations for large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs), meaning that as long as a generator complies with the requirements of 40 CFR 262.34, they do not need a RCRA permit.”

The Environmental Resource Center also points out that, “most of the treatment technologies identified at 40 CFR 268.42 do not require a permit—with the technologies that do require a RCRA permit usually involving combustion.”  Additionally, they provide a list of some of the treatment types that generators in compliance with 40 CFR 262.34 are able to perform without a permit.  These include, among others, the following:

  • DEACT – “Deactivation to remove the hazardous characteristics of a waste due to its ignitability, corrosivity, and/or reactivity.”
  • MACRO – “Macroencapsulation with surface coating materials such as polymeric organics (e.g., resins and plastics) or with a jacket of inert inorganic materials to substantially reduce surface exposure to potential leaching media. Macroencapsulation specifically does not include any material that would be classified as a tank or container according to 40 CFR 260.10.”
  • NEUTR – “Neutralization with the following reagents (or waste reagents) or combinations of reagents: (1) Acids; (2) bases; or (3) water (including wastewaters) resulting in a pH greater than 2 but less than 12.5 as measured in the aqueous residuals.”
  • POLYM – “Formation of complex high-molecular weight solids through polymerization of monomers in high-TOC D001 non-wastewaters which are chemical components in the manufacture of plastics.”
  • STABL – “Stabilization with the following reagents (or waste reagents) or combinations of reagents: (1) Portland cement; or (2) lime/pozzolans (e.g., fly ash and cement kiln dust)—this does not preclude the addition of reagents (e.g., iron salts, silicates, and clays) designed to enhance the set/cure time and/or compressive strength, or to overall reduce the leachability of the metal or inorganic.” [2]

It is important to note that the exemptions listed apply only in states that allow for them.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.

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Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s: Part 4

  
  
  

Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s Part 4This is our final post in the SAA FAQ's series!  Remember, original and complete information from this post can be found in the EPA document on closed containers here.  If you would like us to compile an eBook of these questions let us know in the comments section! 


Question: Do generators have to include the hazardous waste in SAAs in the monthly quantities for determining generator status (i.e., SQG or LQG)?

Answer:  Yes.  Generators must include all the hazardous waste in the various SAAs in their monthly quantities for determining generator status.  Sections 261.5(c) and (d) identify hazardous wastes that do not have to be counted when determining generator status. Hazardous waste stored in SAAs is not on this list; therefore, hazardous waste in SAAs must be included in the generator's monthly quantity determination.

 

Question: When a facility has equipment that discharges hazardous wastes to attached containers, do the containers that collect such wastes have to be in compliance with the SAA regulations?

Answer:  Yes.  Even if the discharging unit is not regulated under RCRA, the attached containers that collect hazardous wastes from such equipment must be in compliance with the SAA regulations, if those containers collect wastes that are listed or characteristic hazardous wastes. Waste containers in SAAs must be:
  • In good condition (265.171),
  • Compatible with their contents (265.172),
  • Labeled with "words that identify the contents of the container" or the words "hazardous waste” (262.34(c)(l)( ii)).

In addition, the containers in SAAs must be closed, except when adding or removing hazardous waste (265.173(a)).  Generators would not be required to keep such containers closed while hazardous waste is being added to the container; but generators would need to keep them closed when the hazardous waste is not being discharged to the attached container.

The container(s) attached to such equipment is a point of generation.  It is possible for there to be multiple pieces of equipment within one SAA, and thus multiple points of generation within a single SAA, provided all the pieces of equipment are "at or near” each other and “under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste."  Under this scenario, the total amount of hazardous waste in the SAA would be limited to 55 gallons (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) and a generator would be allowed to consolidate like hazardous wastes: from multiple discharging units.

 

Question: If a facility has very small containers (e.g., vials or tubes) of hazardous waste that are too small to label with the words "hazardous waste" or "other words that identify the contents of the container," how should the containers be labeled?

Answer:Generally, we would expect the small containers to be placed in properly labeled larger containers, which would have the added benefit of secondary containment should the small containers break.  However, other approaches that would achieve the same result also would be acceptable.

 

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.    

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Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s: Part 3

  
  
  

Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s Part 3Today we will be continuing with part three of our series of the top questions EPA has received about satellite accumulation areas.  Original and complete information from this post can be found in the EPA document on closed containers here.


Question: The preamble to the final rule that added 262.34(c), states, "...only one waste will normally be accumulated at each satellite area."  Can there be more than one hazardous waste at an SAA? Can there be more than one container at an SAA?

Answer:Yes.  It's permissible to have more than one hazardous waste in an SAA.  Likewise, it's permissible to have more than one container of hazardous waste in an SAA.  The regulations do not limit the number of hazardous wastes or the number of containers that can be placed in an SAA.  The regulations limit only the total volume of hazardous waste at a single SAA to 55 gallons (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste).  If there are multiple containers of hazardous waste in an SAA, each container must be labeled in accordance with 262.34{c)(I)(ii).

Because the Agency did not anticipate that generators would accumulate multiple hazardous wastes/containers in an SAA, a cross-reference to the requirements for the safe storage of incompatible wastes was not included as part of the container management standards for SAAs. Nevertheless, good management practices clearly dictate that incompatible wastes should be stored separately.  Furthermore, in the event that any wastes, including incompatible wastes, are stored in such a way that they may pose an imminent and substantial threat to health or the environment, §7003 of RCRA allows the Agency to take enforcement action to eliminate the threat.

 

Question: Can a facility have multiple SAAs?

Answer:Yes.  The regulations do not limit the total number of SAAs at a generator's facility.  Likewise, the regulations do not limit the total amount of hazardous waste that can be accumulated at various SAAs across a facility.  The regulations limit only the volume of hazardous waste that can be accumulated at a single SAA to 55 gallons (or I quart of acute hazardous waste).

It's not possible in a memo for the Agency to delineate for all situations what constitutes a single SAA versus what constitutes separate SAAs. The regulations state that a generator may accumulate hazardous waste "in containers at or near any point of generation where wastes initially accumulate, which is under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste."  For additional guidance about the Agency's intent, refer to the preamble to the final rule for SAAs, which states, "Certainly...a row of full 55 gallon drums spaced 5 feet apart along the factory wall," is not a row of distinct SAAs, but is one SAA.

 

Question:  If a facility has multiple SAAs, can hazardous waste be moved from one SAA to another?

Answer:No.  Generators may not move hazardous wastes between SAAs.  Once a hazardous waste leaves an SAA, it must be destined for a central accumulation area that is regulated under 262.34(a) or (d) or for final   treatment or disposal at a facility with a permit or interim status.

However, a single SAA may have multiple points of generation. Movement or consolidation of hazardous waste within an SAA is permissible, as long as it remains "at or near'' the "point of generation" and "under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste."

In addition, a generator may have more than one 90-day or 180-day central accumulation area, and the regulations do not prohibit the movement of hazardous waste from one fully regulated central accumulation area to another, as long as the hazardous waste remains on-site. However, the 90-day or 180-day "clock" for accumulation does not restart if the hazardous waste is moved to another central accumulation area.

 

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.    

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Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s: Part 2

  
  
  

Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s Part 2Today we will be continuing our series of the top questions EPA has received about satellite accumulation areas.  Original and complete information from this post can be found in the EPA document on closed containers here.

 

Question: The container management standards of 265.173(a) state. "A container holding hazardous waste must always be closed during storage, except when it is necessary to add or remove waste."  Does this mean that hazardous wastes have to be managed and/or disposed in the containers in which they were originally accumulated?

Answer: No. Generators may transfer hazardous waste between containers to facilitate storage, transportation, or treatment.'' For example, a generator may wish to consolidate several partially full containers of the same hazardous waste from an SAA into one container before transferring it to a central accumulation area. Generators also may transfer hazardous waste between containers in central accumulation areas. However, the 90-day or 180-day "clock" for accumulation does not restart if the hazardous waste is transferred to another container.

 

Question: Do containers in SAAs have to comply with the air emission standards of Part 265 Subparts AA, BB, and CC?

Answer: No. Containers in SAAs are not required to comply with the air emission standards of Part 265 Subparts AA, BB, and CC.  Likewise, SQGs are not required to comply with the air emission standards at their 180-day accumulation areas. LQGs, however, are required to comply with the RCRA air emission standards at their 90-day accumulation areas. Therefore, when an LQG transfers waste from an SAA to a 90-day central accumulation area, the applicable portions of the air emission standards of Part 265 Subparts AA, BB, and CC must be met at the 90-day central accumulation area.

 

Question: Section 265.174 of Subpart 1 requires that containers be inspected at least weekly for leaks and deterioration caused by corrosion or other factors. Both LQGs and SQGs must inspect containers in their central accumulation areas.  Are SQGs or LQGs required to inspect hazardous waste containers in SAAs?

Answer: No. Inspections of containers (whether weekly or some other frequency) in SAAs are not required, so long as the provisions of 262.34(c) are met.  Section 265.174, which requires inspections, is not among the provisions listed in 262.34(c) for SAAs.  However, the SAA regulations do require that waste containers in an SAA must be under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste, in good condition (265.171), compatible with  its contents  (265.172), and closed except  when adding or removing waste (265.173), which  should achieve the goal of inspections: containers that are free of leaks and deterioration.

 

Question: SQGs must conduct training in accordance with 262.34(d)(5)(iii) and LQGs must conduct training in accordance with 265.16. Do the RCRA regulations require training of personnel working in SAAs?

Answer: No.  The RCRA regulations do not require training of personnel working in SAAs.  Personnel that have access to or work in central accumulation areas, including those that move hazardous waste from a SAA to a central accumulation area, must be trained.  As the ones actually generating hazardous waste, however, personnel working in SAAs need to be familiar enough with the chemicals with which they are working to know when they have generated a hazardous waste so that it will be managed in accordance with the RCRA regulations.

 

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.    

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Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s: Part 1

  
  
  

Satellite Accumulation Area FAQ’s: Part 1In their memo on closed containers the EPA provided several frequently asked questions and their answers.  In our next couple of posts we will be breaking down this long list of FAQ’s into more manageable chunks of information.  All this information can be found in its original context here.


Question: Can a small quantity generator (SQG) establish satellite accumulation areas according to 262.34(c) for their hazardous waste?

Answer: Yes.  Both large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs) may take advantage of the reduced requirements while hazardous waste is in SAAs, provided it is managed in accordance with all the provisions of40 CFR 262.34(c).  If an SQG or LQG accumulates more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) at an SAA, the excess must be removed within three days. If after that period, the excess is not removed, LQGs must comply with 262.34(a) and SQGs must comply with 262.34(d), with respect to the excess amounts.

 

Question:  If a generator accumulates more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) at an SAA, when should the generator date the container(s)? When 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) is exceeded, or when the container is moved to the central accumulation area?

Answer: When 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) is exceeded in an SAA, the generator needs to date the container, so that the generator can move the excess to the 90 day or 180-day area within three days (262.34(c)(2)).  Then when 3 days have passed, or when the container is moved to the central accumulation area, the generator needs to date the container again, so that it can be moved off-site within 90 or 180 days (262.34(a)(2) and 262.34(d)(4), respectively.  (Of course, the container does not need to be dated after it is removed from the SAA if the excess waste is moved directly to a permitted or interim status unit.)  This means that an LQG has up to 93 days and a SQG has up to 183 days for on-site accumulation time once 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) has been exceeded at the SAA- up to three days in the SAA, followed by up to 90 or 180 days in the central accumulation area.

 

Question: When a generator accumulates more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) at an SAA, the excess of 55 gallons (or the excess of 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) needs to be removed from the SAA within three days. What is meant by "three days"?

Answer:Three days means three consecutive days. It does not mean three working days or three business days. Originally, the Agency had proposed to use 72 hours as the time limit but realized that determining when 72 hours had elapsed would have required placing both the date and time of day on containers.  In the final rule the Agency switched to using three days so that generators only need to date containers that hold the excess of 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste).

 

Question: lf an SAA has a full 4-gallon container of hazardous waste, does the generator have to remove the container from the SAA within three days of being filled?

Answer: No. There is no federal  requirement that full containers of hazardous waste be removed from an SAA within three days of being filled. Only the excess of 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or the excess of 1 quart of acutely hazardous waste) must be removed within three days.

 

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.      

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Closed Containers and Spill Prevention

  
  
  

Closed Containers and Spill Prevention resized 600We’ve been talking a lot recently about closed container guidelines.  We covered recommendations for containers in central accumulation areas, containers holding liquids in satellite accumulation areas, and containers collecting solid or semi-solid wastes in satellite accumulation areas.  Today we’re going to cover why closed container guidelines are so important and what best practices you could have in place to help ensure your containers stay closed.

The main point is that closed containers prevent spills.  While it is true that regulations allow for flexibility in the definition of closed that in no way means you should not be diligent about keeping your containers from spilling.  The first best practice the EPA suggests is making sure that your containers are located in low traffic areas.  This means away from things like forklifts.  Doing so reduces the number of opportunities for accidental tipping over and / or spilling of drums.  They recommend this practice in both CAAs and SAAs. 

The second suggestion involves containers with lids that are not securely affixed (with a bolted ring clamp or locked funnel lid).  The EPA recommends that generators secure these containers with a chain or strap to a wall or building support column to keep them from tipping over and / or spilling.  This is especially important in areas where seismic activity is a danger.  If no building support is available then the EPA suggests strapping the containers together to keep them from overturning.  A larger group of drums is less prone to overturning than a single one.  They do caution that generators must “continue to comply with the SAA requirements that the container be located at or near the point of generation and not exceed the quantity limitation of 55 gallons.”

The third best practice, while not required in 40 CFR, is still a good system to have in place.  Using secondary containment systems for accumulating hazardous wastes can be an inexpensive (in the case of using a pan or tub to collect ay release or spill that could occur when adding or removing waste) and effective for catching wastes from a leaky container.  Additionally, valve vents or level indicators can be used to prevent pressure buildup after adding liquids to drums.  Level indicators in particular can help to prevent overfilling a container which could result in unsafe working conditions and a pricey cleanup project. 

The last tip is more a reminder than a best practice.  It is that regulations require containers to be closed (except when adding or removing waste) even when a plant is not operating.  This is because spill and emission prevention is vital 24/7.  It’s true that most accidents don’t occur when a plant is closed or inactive but regulations still require containers to be closed in order to prevent volatile emission releases.  The EPA also states that, “requiring an operator to secure the cover or lid using snap rings, capping the bungholes, or securely fastening the container with other types of covers or lids is not time­ consuming and adds protection for the facility when it is closed down for the weekend or periods of inactivity.”

Does your company have any other best practices for keeping containers closed?  Have you found anything that works better than the ideas provided by the EPA?  If so we would love to hear about them, just let us know in the comments section!

 

Quoted and cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.       

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Alternate Waste Container Types for CAAs and SAAs

  
  
  

Alternate Waste Container Types for CAAs and SAAsIn talking about closed container guidelines in central and satellite accumulation areas we have been sticking with drums as the primary container type.  Since drums are not the only option though, today we will cover some other container types you could use in CAAs or SAAs and what constitutes them as closed. 

Other container types applicable to storage in CAAs and SAAs include “bags, durable sacks made of woven synthetic material (polysacks), boxes, twenty cubic yard roll-off boxes or containers, one cube yard heavy duty cardboard boxes with a plastic liner (Gaylord boxes), semi-trailers used to manage solid and semi-solid hazardous wastes, and stainless steel and plastic totes in wire cages to handle liquid hazardous wastes.”  Each option has a different method for closing. 

Generally speaking, the EPA considers these types of containers “closed” when they are sealed to the extent that hazardous wastes and emissions will be kept inside the container.  They use the example of wet paint filters accumulated in bags.  “A bag containing dry paint filters may be considered closed when the neck of the bag is tightly bound. However, a bag containing solvent laden wet paint filters would generally not be an acceptable container unless the bag was double lined and the bag could be sealed sufficiently to prevent leaks and emissions.”

Roll-off containers may also be used to hold waste in accumulation areas.  According to the EPA, “Large roll-off containers, such as 10 by 20 foot containers, are often used for the accumulation of large volume waste streams, such as F006 sludges from electroplating operations and inorganic wastes where volatility is not an issue.”  There are some roll-off containers that are made with lids that open and close.  In the case of such containers it would be considered closed when the lid is shut and has a good seal around the rim.

The EPA notes that, “From an operational and practical standpoint, these types of containers are generally located inside the facility where a roof or ceiling and walls protect the container from outside elements. Once the containers are completely full, [they] may be covered with tarps and moved outside to a staging area for subsequent management…EPA generally views these situations as both practical and sufficient to meet compliance with 40 CFR 265.173(a).”

If, however, a roll-off container is kept outdoors while receiving waste it is important that generators keep tarps closed when not adding or removing waste to ensure no condensation can enter the container.  The EPA warns that even a small amount of water can be enough to leach hazardous constituents from the waste that could leak out of the roll off.

Roll-off containers holding wastes that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are subject to even stricter requirements.  The EPA dictates that, “if a roll-off container is not in light material service then use of a tarp with no visible holes or gaps or open spaces (e.g., a cover and closure device that forms a continuous barrier over the container) is an example of a suitable Level 1 control device. However, use of tarps in this instance is also subject to 40 CFR 264.1086(c)(2) for permitted units and 40 CFR 165.1087(c)(2) for LQGs, which requires closure suitable to weather conditions, including exposure to wind, moisture and sunlight.

If the roll-off container is in light material service, then Level 2 controls are required under Subpart CC. Examples of container loading procedures that meet Level 2 controls include using a submerged-fill pipe or other submerged-fill method to load liquids into the container or a vapor-balancing system or a vapor­ recovery system to collect and control the vapors displaced from the container during filling operations.  The use of a tarp would not be an acceptable Level 2 control device.”

 

Quoted and cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.  

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RCRA Comparable Fuels Exclusion

  
  
  
Written by: Angie Martin, PE CHMM & Jim Brossman, Senior Consultant

RCRA Comparable Fuels ExclusionAccording to the EPA, “"On June 27, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals vacated the ‘Comparable Fuels Rule’, which provided an exclusion from RCRA hazardous waste regulations for certain fuels derived from hazardous waste. EPA, recognizing the potential impact of this decision, has filed a motion with the court requesting a 30-day delay in the effective date of the decision (currently scheduled for August 11, 2014, absent petitions for appeal or rehearing) in order to gather information to help plan for orderly transition consistent with the opinion. At the end of that time, EPA may seek a further stay of the mandate if it determines that additional time is necessary for facilities to come into compliance with the applicable requirements." 

Update: On August 7, 2014, the court granted a stay of the mandate through September 17, 2014.

We expect to see a notice in the Federal Register very soon withdrawing the rule (40 CFR 261.4(a)(16) and 261.38).  States are expected to follow so as not to be less stringent than the federal government.  Generators using this exemption will need to do a proper waste determination on wastes and possibly will need to ship wastes that were being burned onsite to an off-site Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitted facility (TSD) -- presumably incinerator or supplemental fuel/cement kiln.

 

What was the Comparable Fuels Exemption?

The comparable fuels exclusion was an exemption only available for liquids that met the comparable fuels specifications for BTU value, viscosity and maximum hazardous constituent concentration. Materials that met the specifications would not be solid wastes (and therefore not hazardous wastes) if burned in an industrial furnace, utility boiler or hazardous waste incinerator.

The types of materials EPA thought would meet the terms of the exclusion included alcohols, oils and other organic liquid wastes. In addition to BTU and viscosity requirements, there were hazardous constituent concentration limits for over 200 compounds included in the exclusion. The standard for most of these constituents was non-detection.

Due to the low specifications, and restrictions on blending to meet most specifications, the types of facilities that claimed the exemption were usually pharmaceutical manufacturers or other facilities that generated large volumes of lightly contaminated spent solvents which they typically wanted to burn in an on-site boiler.  Although it was self-implementing, general market knowledge indicated that few facilities attempted to qualify for this exclusion due to the low constituent standards and the analytical burden required to demonstrate compliance. 

 

Does this affect other fuel type exclusions?

No.  Fuel-for-fuel and Used Oil exclusions are still in effect as before.

This decision does not appear to impact the reclamation and re-use of off-specification fuels since those materials are not solid wastes (or hazardous wastes) when destined for recovery and re-use as fuel.

 

What does this mean for generators? 

If you are a generator who has been using this exemption, it may be time to consider performing a new proper waste determination and a review of your disposal arrangements.  Be sure to include a review of compliance concerns regarding tanks that were product tanks becoming waste accumulation tanks.  Don’t hesitate to seek environmental compliance help if you are unsure of the specific implications for your materials and facilities.  

 

For further information on this subject visit the EPA's webpage on the Comparable Fuels Rule

 

If you believe that you may be using this exemption, Heritage can assist you in making a proper waste determination, disposal arrangements, as well as compliance consulting regarding a potential change in generator status or tanks that were product tanks becoming waste accumulation tanks.  Contact a Heritage Representative today

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Closed Container Guidelines in SAAs: Part 2

  
  
  

Closed Container Guidelines in SAAs Part 2Last week we covered closed container guidelines for containers holding liquid hazardous waste in satellite accumulation areas.  To remind you, satellite accumulation areas (SAAs) differ from central accumulation areas (CAAs) because they are an area in a facility where waste is generated and accumulated in a container as opposed to an area where waste is stored after being generated. 

40 CFR 262.34(c)(1) and (c)(2) set forth the requirements for generators that accumulate hazardous waste in an SAA, including the requirement that the generator must accumulate the waste in a container that is “closed” except when adding or removing waste.

For a reminder on the guidelines for containers holding liquid hazardous wastes please see last week’s post here.  Today we will be covering the recommendations for keeping closed containers collecting solid and semi-solid hazardous wastes in satellite accumulation areas.  This can include wastes such as filters, used PPE, and “dewatered metal-bearing wastes or sludges.” 

In the case of containers collecting these types of waste, the EPA considers a container closed “as long as there is complete contact between the lid and the rim all around the top of the container.”  Ensuring this contact between lid and rim minimizes the risk of air emissions being released into the environment.  

According to the EPA, “when [a] container is full, or…must be moved or transported, the lid can be secured by bolting the band that seals the lid to the container or with a band that is tightened with a lever.”

Some SAA containers, for example those under a baghouse or filter press, which are continuously or sporadically receiving hazardous waste often stay open while connected to the device.  According to the EPA, “in these situations, the containers should be capable of catching and retaining all of the material during transfer from a device to the container in order to avoid spills or releases.”

Another appropriate container option for solid or semi-solid hazardous wastes would be a container with a foot pedal operated cover.  These come in several varieties including flip-top, self-closing swinging door, and spring loaded lid.  The EPA considers them closed when the cover makes complete contact between the rim and the lid all the way around the top.  The EPA cautions that “generators should be aware that the seals on containers can erode because of time and use, and should be checked periodically for wear and replaced if necessary.”

 

Quoted and cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

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Closed Container Guidelines in SAAs: Part 1

  
  
  

Closed Container Guidelines in SAAsEarlier this week we discussed the guidelines for closed containers in central accumulation areas (CAAs).  If you’ll remember, the purpose of these guidelines is to prevent spills and minimize emissions from volatile wastes.  Today we are going to talk about what guidelines exist for containers in satellite accumulation areas or SAAs.  In particular, we will be covering the closed container guidelines for containers accumulating liquid hazardous wastes in SAAs.  Containers containing solid and semi-solid wastes will be covered in a later post.

Unlike CAAs (where waste is often stored after the fact) SAAs are locations in a facility where waste is generated and accumulates in a container.  40 CFR 262.34(c)(1) and (c)(2) set forth the requirements for generators that accumulate hazardous waste in an SAA, including the requirement that the generator must accumulate the waste in a container that is “closed” except when adding or removing waste. 

The situation that raises the most questions about closed containers is management of liquid hazardous wastes or free liquids.  This includes items like spent organic solvents.  These waste accumulations bring up the most questions because so many generators use liquid solvents in their production or manufacturing processes.

The three primary risks associated with liquid hazardous wastes accumulated in containers are risks from inhalation, risk of potential buildup of vapors in the container, and risk of an accidental spill of material.  Since the purpose of the closed container guidelines is to minimize emissions and avoid spills, ignitions, or mixing of wastes it is imperative that generators have systems in place to keep containers closed and to prevent leaks or ruptures.

Generally, a container collecting liquid hazardous wastes in an SAA is “closed” when “all lids are properly and securely affixed to the container, except when wastes are actually being added to or removed from the container.”  The reasoning behind making sure the lid is totally covering the container is to prevent any volatile emissions from being released and to prevent a spill in the chance case that a container is tipped over. 

The EPA recognizes that the frequency with which materials may be added to or removed from a container makes securing lids with snap rings, securely capping bungholes, and / or fastening the lid on by other means inconvenient.  That said it is still important that the container is covered tightly.  They provide the following advice:

“We believe containers holding free liquids, or liquid hazardous waste, in the SAA would meet the regulatory definition of "closed" through a variety of approaches. For example, special funnels with manually or spring closed lids or other similar closing devices could be used for closed-head drums or closed-top drums (e.g., containers that have two bung holes with non-removable lids).

Similarly, funnels used to add or remove liquid hazardous wastes from these containers would be screwed tightly into the bunghole and fitted with a gasket, if necessary, to seal the funnel lid firmly closed. In some cases, the funnel lids for closed-head drums and closed­ top drums may be fitted with a locking mechanism. This keeps the lid in a closed position. All other openings on the drum lid should generally be properly closed or capped.

Another alternative is the use of a funnel with a one-way valve that allows hazardous waste to enter the container, but prohibits the waste or emissions from exiting the container… Liquid hazardous wastes also can be accumulated in open-head drums or open-top containers (e.g., where the entire lid is removable and typically secured with a ring and bolts or a snap ring) and meet the definition of "closed," provided the rings are clamped or bolted to the container. 

In some situations, the container could be considered closed if the lid covers the container top securely even though the rings are not clamped or bolted.   Several states take this approach, and EPA believes it reflects a reasonable interpretation of the regulations.” 

 

Quoted and cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

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