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Hazardous Waste Counting

Last week we posted about the three different classifications of hazardous waste generators; small quantity generators (SQGs), Large Quantity Generators (LQGs), and Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs). These three categories are broken down based on the quantity of hazardous waste generated in a calander month.

Since hazardous waste generators are divided into these three separate categories based on the amount of waste they generate, it stands to reason that waste counting would be an important aspect of hazardous waste generation.

In order to properly determine their generator classification, generators must count the quantity of waste produced each month. The regulations about which hazardous wastes must be counted in a generators monthly determination can be found in 40 CFR §261.5 (c) and (d).

According to the EPA, “a generator must include all hazardous waste that it generates, except hazardous waste that:

  • Is exempt from regulation in §§261.4(c) through (f), 261.6(a)(3), 261.7(a)(1), or 261.8
  • Is managed immediately upon generation only in on-site elementary neutralization units,
  • Is recycled, without prior storage or accumulation, only in an on-site process subject to regulation in §261.6(c)(2)
  • Is used oil managed under the requirements in §261.6(a)(4) and Part 279
  • Is spent lead-acid batteries managed under the requirements in Part 266, Subpart G
  • Is universal waste managed pursuant to §261.9 and Part 273.”

In order to avoid double counting, §261.5 allows for some wastes not to be counted when determining generator classification. All of these wastes are counted when initially generated. These include:

  • Hazardous waste when removed from on-site storage.
  • Hazardous waste produced by on-site treatment (including reclamation) as long as the hazardous waste was counted once.
  • Spent materials generated, reclaimed, and subsequently reused on site, as long as the spent material is counted once during the calendar month.

All information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “Introduction to Generators.” 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. 

What are the Hazardous Waste Generator Classes?

In last Tuesday’s post we talked about what constitutes a hazardous waste generator. In that post, I mentioned that because hazardous waste generators produce waste in different quantities Congress breaks them down into three distinct categories. Today we’re going to cover what those three categories are and what qualifies a generator for each one.

When the original generator regulations were published in May of 1980, they set regulations for people who generated 1000 kg or more of hazardous waste in a calendar month and people who generated more than 1 kg of acutely hazardous waste in one calendar month. People who generated less than that were considered conditionally exempt and had reduced regulatory requirements set.

The regulations were amended in 1984 to more stringently regulate people who generated between 100 and 1000 kg of hazardous waste in a calendar month and again in March of 1986 when the final regulations were published. These final regulations established a third class of generator and narrowed the scope of conditional exemption to those people generating 100kg or less of hazardous waste in a calendar month. Generators who produce 1 kg or acutely hazardous waste are also exempt.

Generators now fall into one of three categories depending on the amount of waste they generate in a calendar month. The three different classes are broken down in the table below.

Quantity Determines Which Regulations

What is a Large Quantity Generator?

Large Quantity Generators (or LQG’s) produce 1000 kg or more of hazardous waste or 1 kg or more of acutely hazardous waste per calendar month. These generators and wastes are subject to full regulation.

What is a Small Quantity Generator?

Small Quantity Generators (or SQG’s) produce between 100 kg and 1000 kg of hazardous waste per calendar month. These generators and wastes are subject to modified regulations.  Generally, SQG’s must comply with some, but not all, of the regulations LQG’s must follow.

What is a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator?

Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (or CESQG’s) produce 100 kg or less of hazardous waste per calendar month. This category also includes generators who produce 1 kg or less of acutely hazardous waste, or 100 kg or less of contaminated soil, waste, or debris resulting from the cleanup of an acute hazardous waste spill. CESQGs are exempt from Parts 262 through 270 if they comply with the requirements in §261.5.

What is an Episodic Generator?

Occasionally, generators exceed or fall below their normal generation limits in a calendar month. When this happens the generator must take care to determine if the increase or decrease places them into a different generator category. If it does, “he or she is responsible for complying with all applicable requirements of that category for all waste generated during that calendar month. For example, if a generator produces 300 kg of hazardous waste in March, that waste must be managed in accordance with the SQG regulations; if the same generator produces 1,500 kg of hazardous waste in April, that waste must be managed in accordance with the LQG regulations.”

All information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “Introduction to Generators.”  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. 

An Introduction to Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR)

Today we are going to walk through some of the basics of Land Disposal Restriction rules.

The regulatory citations at 40 CFR § 268 controls the disposal of any waste that is placed on the land. This includes underground injection, waste piles, surface impoundments, and landfills. These regulations impact all hazardous waste through wither administrative or technical requirements.

The basis for LDR is to protect the ground water. This is achieved by the rules in 40 CFR which established concentration based standards for land disposal in addition to management/engineering controls.

There are four types of treatment standards:

  • Total waste standards (totals analysis)
  • Waste extract standards (TCLP Analysis); or
  • Specified technology standards (specify a treatment technology by five letter code rather than constituent concentration)
  • Alternative treatment standards

Concentration-based universal treatment standards (UTS) specify a single numerical treatment standard for each organic, metal, and cyanide constituent, regardless of the type of waste, that must be met prior to land disposal.

Treatment standards are based on best demonstrated available technology (BDAT). That means that the treatment standards are not health or risk-based, they are dependent upon the best available technology. It is also important to note that LDR treatment standards attach at the point of initial generation.

The “point of generation” is the point at which the waste is first generated, not the point at which it exits a management system. For characteristic wastes, each “change of treatability group” can mark a new point of generation for making an LDR determination (e.g. separation of solids in wastewater treatment).

All this said, there are some general exclusions to the LDR regulations including:

  • Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs) – these will generate 100 kilograms or less per month of hazardous waste, or 1 kilogram or less per month of acutely hazardous waste.
  • Waste pesticides and residues that farmers dispose of on their own property.
  • Selected low volume de minimus losses and laboratory wastes discharged to land based wastewater treatment facilities.

As always, remember that this blog is not intended to serve as an all-inclusive guide to standards. It is always best to check with local government and 40 CFR for the most up-to-date information.