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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.

Attached Waste Containers & Satellite Accumulation

Last Thursday we posted a collection of questions and answers related to hazardous waste containment. One question was as follows:

“When a facility has equipment that discharges hazardous waste to an attached container, do the attached containers need to be in compliance with satellite accumulation regulations?” 

With the answer being “Yes.”

After posting we received a comment that asked a very good question:

“If the container is attached, why wouldn’t it be considered ‘part of the process’?”

While I sent an answer to the person who asked the question initially, I thought it might be beneficial to explain the answer more fully today so everyone has access. Because I was not certain of the answer, I went to our Director of Corporate Compliance and Safety for clarification. This is what I learned.

The question asked can be addressed by a Memorandum issued by Robert Springer, USEPA Office of Solid Waste on March 17, 2004 and answered as follows:

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 Satellite Accumulation Area regulations, if those containers collect wastes that are listed or characteristic hazardous wastes. Waste containers in Satellite Accumulation Areas 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)(1)(ii)).

In addition, the containers in Satellite Accumulation Areas 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 Satellite Accumulation Area, and thus multiple points of generation within a single Satellite Accumulation Area, 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 Satellite Accumulation Area 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.

Now the question becomes one of whether something is “integral to the process”…,

There may be occasion where waste is being generated in a container. The most important thing to remember in these cases is that regulations can vary from state to state. The State of Colorado, for example, has issued guidance about whether certain pieces of equipment are satellite accumulation or not:

‘In-process waste does not need to be managed as a satellite accumulation area. In-process waste refers to waste that is continuously generated and is an integral part of the system generating the waste, or waste that is accumulated during a process and is moved to a satellite-accumulation or 90-day area at the end of a work shift. For example, consider a machine shop which grinds metals parts on a lathe. The lathe includes a recirculating solvent cleaning bath which is an attached, hard-plumbed integral part of the system. The waste generated by this system is considered in-process. Once the cleaning bath is removed from the lathe, the waste solvent must be moved to a satellite-accumulation or 90-day area. Another example could be a container for waste generated by a High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph which is physically connected to the HPLC. Once the container is full and/or removed or disconnected from the HPLC, the waste must be moved to a satellite-accumulation or 90-day area. A third example of accumulating waste during a process could be a group of six employees working at the same bench, cleaning equipment with listed solvents on a Q-tip. Each employee has a one-gallon collection container for used Q-tips at their work station. At the end of the work shift, the employees consolidate their one-gallon containers in a 55-gallon container located at the end of the work bench. In this example, the one-gallon containers are considered a collection point for in-process waste and the 55-gallon container is considered a satellite accumulation area. “Integral to the process” is the primary condition for in-process waste, and may include a hard-plumbed container or other physical connection; however, physical connection is not a required condition (see above Q-tip example).’

Our best suggestion is for the generator to consider any guidance that they may have received from their state regulatory officials as to whether or not the container would be satellite accumulation or not as it would be dependent upon the state interpretation. It is possible that under certain circumstances and activities, the satellite provisions would prevail and will be entirely dependent on the specific situation.

And please remember, it is important to note 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.

A Q&A About Hazardous Waste Containers

If a generator accumulates more than the satellite limit, when should they date the container?

When exceeded, not started.

What is meant by 3-days?

Three days means three consecutive days. It does not mean working days or business days.

Originally the EPA proposed 72-hours as the time limit, but realized that determining when 72-hours elapsed would require the container to have both date and time labeled.

The leg of a PPE suit is hanging out from under the secured lid of a container. Is the container open or closed?


Do containers in satellite areas have to comply with air emission standards?


Do satellite containers need to be inspected?

The do not need to be although we recommend that you that you do so on a regular basis anyway.

Can a facility have more than one satellite accumulation area?

Yes, The regulations do not limit the number of SAAs. Likewise, the regulations do not limit the total volume of waste that can be accumulated at various SAAs. Regulation only limits to 55 gallons (1 quart) per SAA.

Can a satellite accumulation area contain more than one container?

Yes, It is permissible  to have more than one container, as well as more than one waste type in a SAA. Good management practice dictates how this should be done. SAA is limited to a total volume of 55 gallons (1 quart).

When a facility has equipment that discharges hazardous waste to an attached container, do the attached containers need to be in compliance with satellite accumulation regulations?


Are the dirty uniform bins considered satellite accumulations of hazardous waste?  What about maintenance gloves?

No, Contaminated wipes, gloves, or uniforms being commercially laundered and subsequently reused are not discarded; therefore, they are not a hazardous waste.

So, how many could you answer correctly?

Hazardous Waste Accumulation Containers

Today we are going to explore the ever exciting world of accumulation container standards, rules, and types! We will be focusing on the differences between and rules associated with satellite accumulation vs. 90-day. We will also be offering a short quiz available for download at the end of this post.

So to begin, we will talk about satellite accumulation. A generator can accumulate up to 55 gallons of hazardous waste in containers that are:

  • At or near point of generations, and
  • Under the control of the operator.

Acute hazardous waste accumulation is limited to 1 quart. All containers must be labeled with the words “hazardous waste” or with other words that accurately identifies the contents.

When containers in a satellite accumulation area exceed their limits of 55 gallons or 1 quart the container must be dated. The excess or the entire container then must be removed within 3 days. Otherwise, the site must be managed as a 90-day.

And as always, all container management standards apply; meaning that all containers must be in good condition, closed, labeled, and segregated for compatibility.

In a 90-day, a generator can accumulate for up to 90 days with no volume limits. There are, however, additional standards that must be complied with. See the table below for a comparison of applicable standards.

Accumulation Standards

As you can see, there are more standards that must be followed if you are a 90-Day generator. That said, it is important to note that this blog post 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.

RCRA Empty Waste Rules

You know the phrase “you learn something new every day?” I sometimes wonder about that. I saw a card once that reflected my feelings pretty perfectly. It said something like, “I disagree with the idea that you learn something new every day. I think there are some days when I learn nothing at all, and in fact, forget some things.” But I am happy to say that today was one of those days when I did learn something!

Now for some of you this will probably not be new news but hopefully I will still provide you with some helpful information about what I learned. So, to alleviate the suspense (assuming you didn’t guess from the title of this post) I learned today that there is a difference between “empty” and “RCRA empty.”

Now I realize that regular hazardous waste generators may be thinking to themselves, “Yeah, we knew this…” But I found it pretty interesting and decided to look into it a little more. Generally, we think of something as empty when it appears empty to the naked eye. However, hazardous containers that are defined as ‘RCRA empty’ are not subject to EPA regulation even when residue remains.

So what makes a container RCRA empty? I learned that there are two general (common) answers as well as a third less common condition. To begin, we will determine if the waste was acutely hazardous.

What is an acutely hazardous waste?

An acutely hazardous waste is one that is P listed or designated with the sub-code H. In layman’s terms, acute hazardous waste is waste that is considered to present a substantial hazard whether managed properly or not. If your waste is acutely hazardous, there are a few ways you can make the container RCRA empty.

How do I make a container holding acutely hazardous waste RCRA empty?

The first way is applicable if your container has an inner liner. If it does you just need to remove it and you’re good to go (in terms of your container being empty, you still need to properly dispose of the liner). If your container doesn’t have a liner you need to triple rinse the container with an appropriate solvent. If triple rinsing is inappropriate you must check with the EPA and local government to determine an alternate method.

What if the waste is not acutely hazardous?

If the waste in your container is not acutely hazardous you can use practices that are commonly employed, industry-wide, to empty them to EPA regulated levels. Common methods for emptying are pouring, pumping, and draining. When emptying there are a few rules that constitute “empty.” Firstly, there can be no more than 1” remaining, no more than 3″ waste for small containers and no more than .3″ for large containers.

What is the third condition?

The third condition refers to gas cylinders. Containers holding compressed gasses are considered empty when the pressure in the container approaches atmospheric pressure.

What happens to residues in a container?

Residues which are removed from a container (like liners) are fully subject to RCRA and may or may not be considered hazardous based on waste determination. Residues in the container, however, are considered exempt and are non-regulated.

And as always, this information may not be all-inclusive and it is always best to check 40 CFR and your state regulations for the most up-to-date information.

Containerized Waste Compatibility

Hazardous waste containers and storage areas are designed with specific intent. The container is for holding the waste and the storage area is to prevent escape of release from a container. The regulations intend to ensure that wastes are,

  • Compatible with construction of the container,
  • Compatible with other waste placed in the container,
  • Stored in a containment area designed to prevent releases from the containers from reaching the environment.

One of the first things to make sure of is that your containers are in good condition. Containers that are deteriorating or leaking must not be used and waste must be removed or transferred from the defective containers.

After making sure your containers are in good shape, you must make sure that the container type is compatible with the type of waste held within. The term incompatible waste refers to a hazardous waste which is unsuitable for placement in a container because it may cause damage to the container or inner liner; or when mixed with other waste in the container under uncontrolled conditions might produce:

  • Heat or pressure,
  • Fire or explosion,
  • Violent reaction, or
  • Toxic dusts.

Containers used to store hazardous waste must be made of or lined with materials that will not react with the waste and are otherwise compatible with the waste. Incompatible waste must not be placed in the same container. This includes unwashed containers that previously held an incompatible waste or material.

It is not just in containers that you must think of compatibility, though. Incompatible wastes are to be kept separate from each other in storage. Incompatibles must be kept separate by dike, berm, wall, and separated by sufficient distance. It helps to remember the 2 row minimum rule.  Incompatible materials must be 2 rows apart, separated by a row compatible to both.

Compatibility is so important because accidentally mixing incompatible wastes can have very dangerous ramifications. Always be sure to check and double check that you are not inadvertently mixing incompatible wastes. And remember, this information may not be all-inclusive and it is always best to check 40 CFR and your state regulations for the most up-to-date information. Keep reading our blog for more information about containerized wastes.

Hazardous Waste Container Basics

Throughout the coming weeks we will have several posts about container standards and management. Containers storing hazardous waste at permitted facilities are subject to the general facility standards as well as the specific container standards of 40 CFR 264/265.

When the EPA promulgated the unit-specific requirements (container standards), for hazardous waste containers, the Agency emphasized that although mismanagement of containers has caused some of the worst contamination, relatively few regulations would be needed to eliminate most of the problems. Today, I will be writing about some of the basics you need to know in order to maximize your container management efficiency.

To start, it is vital to note that all containers storing hazardous waste must comply with both state regulations and those regulations set forth by the federal government in 40 CFR.

That said, the word container is a bit non-specific. At Heritage, we teach that a container is any portable device in which a material is stored, transported, treated, disposed of, or otherwise handled. Now you may be thinking, “That definition is pretty non-specific too.” That is true. The definition is intentionally broad so that it can encompass all the different types of portable devices that may be used to handle hazardous waste, such as:

  • Drums,
  • Pails,
  • Tankers, or
  • Railcars, among possible others. 

After looking into what items are available in which to store hazardous waste, we need to determine the definition of “storage.” Storing hazardous waste means holding it for a temporary period until it is treated, disposed of, or moved elsewhere. Again, this definition is intentionally broad in order to include any situation in which hazardous waste is held for any period of time.

It is important to remember that this information may not be all-inclusive and it is always best to check 40 CFR and your state regulations for the most up-to-date information. Keep checking the blog for future posts about container design and compatibility.

Is it Hazardous Waste… Aerosol Cans?

What is an aerosol can?

The basic aerosol can of today has not really changed since the 1920’s. It is a metal can in which two fluids are sealed. One fluid is the product that is to be dispensed and the other is the propellant. The propellant is a compressed gas that expands when the aerosol can is opened (generally by pushing a button or pulling a lever). The propellant forces the product through a tube in the can and out the nozzle. Many different products are dispensed in aerosol cans, from shaving cream to cooking spray or room fresheners. Although the cans these products come in may look different, the mechanism behind them is the same.

When is an aerosol can hazardous?

Due to regulations concerning Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) most aerosol cans today use a hydrocarbon propellant. While this type of propellant is less harmful to the ozone layer than CFCs and HCFCs were it is highly flammable.

If an aerosol can held a substance that is regulated as hazardous it must “drained or emptied to less than 3% by weight of the total capacity of the container (40 CFR 261.7)” or it is considered a hazardous waste.

That said, even aerosol cans that have been drained to less than 3% will likely still contain propellant (which can be reactive when combined with an igniting force) and as such will still be considered hazardous. So, unless a can is fully emptied of propellant it is still considered a hazardous waste and should be disposed of accordingly.

How should I dispose of my aerosol cans?

For a business, an aerosol can that has been both punctured and drained of its contents would meet the definition of scrap metal (40 CFR 261.1) and can be recycled. Regulations for puncturing change though and need to be checked on both a national and state level. If not punctured and recycled, a hazardous waste determination must be made and the can(s) must be disposed of appropriately.

For an individual or home, RCRA does not regulate how you dispose of your aerosol cans. If you would like to do the best/most environmentally friendly thing though you could take your old aerosol cans to a local household hazardous waste collection.

And remember, this post is meant to provide general information about managing aerosol cans. It is always important to consult the actual state and federal statutes and regulations before making any decisions that may impact regulatory compliance.

Is it Hazardous Waste…Paint?

As summer approaches it makes me think back to last year when I worked the big Indianapolis Tox Drop event at Butler University. While there are several Tox Drop events throughout the year, this one is usually the biggest. That’s not really the point of the post though.

The point is that while I was there we collected more paint than I ever anticipated. I have since learned that, “Paint is the most prevalent household hazardous waste (HHW), meaning it makes up the most quantity, by volume, of materials received at HHW collection programs across the country. [1]

Is my paint hazardous?

That said, another thing I learned at the event was that much of the paint people bring is not actually considered hazardous waste. This is because many people do not know the difference between latex based paint and oil based paint; the former being relatively harmless and the latter being considered hazardous.

You’re probably wondering, “How do I tell the difference between the different kinds?” Luckily, it’s pretty simple. Oil based paint will say on the can that it is oil based or alkyd. Latex paint will say that it is latex or “water based” or will list water as one of the primary ingredients. Once you have identified the type of paint you are working with, you can determine the best means of disposal.

What if my paint is latex based?

If the paint you have is latex based you have a few options. The easiest way to get rid of it would be to use it up. If that doesn’t work for you though, you have some other choices. While most states prohibit free flowing liquids (such as paint) being put in the trash, if you dry it out it is legal. You can do this by allowing the air to solidify it or by putting an absorbent, such as cat litter, into the old paint. It can then be safely disposed of in your regular municipal waste.

What if my paint is oil based?

If the paint is oil based it is considered a hazardous waste and must be disposed of differently. Your best options for oil based paints are using them up or taking them to a hazardous waste disposal event. In Indianapolis, they are called Tox Drops. These events provide a safe way to dispose of toxic paint.

So if you’re cleaning out your garage this summer make sure to check what type of paint you are dealing with so you can safely and legally dispose of it.

Hazardous Waste Characteristics: An Infographic

A while back we wrote a post about the Characteristics of Hazardous Waste. There are four that you need to look for in order to classify which type of waste you are dealing with. They are as follows:

  • Ignitability,
  • Corrosivity,
  • Reactivity, and
  • Toxicity.

In the previous post we gave detailed information about these four categories, below, we have outlined them again with illustrated examples.

Hazardous Waste Infographic