CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion ®


E&E Exchange Blog

E&E Exchange

Welcome to the Energy & Environment (E&E) Exchange, a blog dedicated to science and engineering topics that are (generally) related to energy and the environment. This blog is meant to encourage discussion about the challenges and possibilities surrounding sustainability through science and technology. The blog's owner, cheme_wordsmithy, is a former technical writer and engineering editor at IEEE GlobalSpec, the company that powers CR4.

Previous in Blog: Tesla's New Vision   Next in Blog: Getting Help For The World's Plastic Bag Addiction
Close
Close
Close
4 comments

EPA's New Proposed Rule - A Brief Summary

Posted September 25, 2015 12:00 PM by cheme_wordsmithy

On August 31st 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a proposed rule that will have a significant impact on the way hazardous waste generators are regulated. The rule was published in the Federal Register today.

It may not seem exciting, but the rules apply to over 500,000 facilities deemed hazardous waste generators. They range from small auto repair shops to large industrial facilities, but they all contribute to the generation of an estimated 35 million tons of hazardous waste annually. Hazardous waste is waste material (i.e. material no longer considered a usable product) that is defined as or known to be ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) legislation.

The RCRA regulations for generators exist to ensure that hazardous waste is properly handled and disposed of, in order to protect human health and the environment. It's to make sure the practices of yesterday (dumping waste out the back door, storing it in deteriorating drums until the end of time, etc.) don't continue. While these regulations are important, most are over thirty years old. EPA has come up with some changes in this proposal to the regs easier to understand, easier to comply with, and also more protective.

Though there are a myriad of changes in the proposal, I've attempted to highlight a few of the big ones here for your reading pleasure.

CESQG to VSQG - Currently the three generator categories (which denote different sets of requirements) are: Large Quantity Generator (LQG), Small Quantity Generator (SQG), and Conditionally-Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG). To avoid confusion regarding the terminology (since all generators are technically exempt from requiring a hazardous waste permit), the proposed rules will have CESQGs renamed VSQGs, or Very Small Quantity Generators.

Episodic Generation - Currently when a generator exceeds a specified quantity of hazardous waste generation in a month, they are bumped into a different generator category with more stringent requirements. The proposed rules would allow generators to exceed their limit once per year without a change in category, provided the generator meets a streamlined set of requirements which I won't spell out here.

Contingency Plan Executive Summary - Currently, LQGs are required to send emergency responders (fire depts., police, etc.) a contingency plan that describes emergency procedures and contacts, among other things. The reports are usually long and cumbersome, and not all that readable in an emergency situation. For brevity and ease-of-use, the proposed rules would require LQGs to submit an executive summary with the contingency plan with only the most important information a responder would need in an emergency.

Hazardous Waste Determinations - Currently, generators are consistently failing to make hazardous waste determinations. The proposed rule would require generators to keep documentation made on solid wastes determined to not be hazardous waste, hopefully encouraging more generators to make necessary determinations on their waste materials.

Labeling - Currently, labels on hazardous waste containers do no describe WHY they are hazardous. The proposed rule would require generators to identify the type of hazard the waste presents (ignitable, corrosive, etc.) using an established standard (DOT or other).

Reporting for SQGs - Currently, SQGs are not required to report periodically, causing regulatory databases to become outdated and enforcement more difficult. The proposed rules would require SQGs to re-notify every two years.

Satellite Accumulation Areas - A number of updates were proposed to satellite accumulation areas (areas near a process where waste is generated and stored temporarily). The updates include allowing open containers in limited circumstance when required for safe operations, adding a volume storage limit for acute hazardous waste (in addition to weight limit), and rescinding allowance to store reactive waste away from the point of generation.

So when will these proposed changes become enforceable? The short answer is, probably not for a while. Final publishing is expected sometime in 2016; however for RCRA authorized states (that's every state in the U.S. besides Iowa and Alaska), these regulations will not become enforceable until they are adopted into each state's own regulations.

Meanwhile, starting today, the EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule for a 60 day period. Overall I think most of these changes are good ones, but there are many details that need to be ironed out to ensure workability for both the generators and the regulators, and that's why public comments are important. If you're interested in submitting comments you can go to Regulations.gov, search for Docket No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-2012-0121 and follow the online instructions.

References:

EPA

LION News

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 647
Good Answers: 9
#1

Re: EPA's New Proposed Rule - A Brief Summary

09/28/2015 8:58 AM

This rule is going to generate a boatload of commentary, much of it negative. It'll be interesting to see the cost numbers the opposition will add to the discussion.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Large hole formally occupied by furry woodland creature.
Posts: 3390
Good Answers: 98
#2

Re: EPA's New Proposed Rule - A Brief Summary

09/28/2015 3:22 PM

"Hazardous waste is waste material (i.e. material no longer considered a usable product) that is defined as or known to be ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) legislation."

Then there is landfill leachate, which may be the product of materials not classified as hazardous, combined in a landfill, that, through the processes involved, becomes a hazardous material without a classification, other than "leachate".

What do you do with it?

__________________
CRTL-Z
Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 647
Good Answers: 9
#3

Re: EPA's New Proposed Rule - A Brief Summary

10/14/2015 4:04 PM

Readers of this post might want to take a look at this IHS Engineering 360 article: http://insights.globalspec.com/article/1571/epa-s-clean-power-plan-how-it-will-affect-you

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Large hole formally occupied by furry woodland creature.
Posts: 3390
Good Answers: 98
#4

Re: EPA's New Proposed Rule - A Brief Summary

10/14/2015 4:56 PM

The thing that bothers me, being ignorant of stratigraphy, is "CO2 displaces the oil and gas underground, flushing it to the production pipeline. It then remains locked inside underground porous rock."

The "remains locked inside" is the bothersome part.

__________________
CRTL-Z
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 4 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Previous in Blog: Tesla's New Vision   Next in Blog: Getting Help For The World's Plastic Bag Addiction

Advertisement