How Do You Make a Hazardous Waste Determination?

For sites that generate potentially hazardous wastes it is imperative that they make a hazardous waste determination for each and every waste generated. The determination process, also called the hazardous waste identification (HWID) process, is one of the first and perhaps the most important step for properly managing waste materials. To make a proper waste identification a generator must ask four questions:

  • Is the material a solid waste?
  • Is the waste specifically excluded from RCRA?
  • Is the waste a listed hazardous waste?
  • Does the waste exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste?     

After answering each of these questions a generator will be prepared to facilitate compliant storage and disposal of any wastes generated.

Is the material a solid waste?

In order to answer the first question, 40 CFR Part 261.2 defines materials that are solid wastes and those that are not solid wastes. RCRA §1004(27) defines a solid waste as, “any garbage, refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility, and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material, resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations and from community activities.”

Additionally, the EPA provides several tools, including a Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) decision tool that can help walk you through this first step.

Is the waste specifically excluded from RCRA?

There are some types of solid wastes that the EPA excludes from the definition of hazardous waste. These materials, regardless of meeting a listing or exhibiting a characteristic of hazardous waste, cannot be considered a hazardous waste. According to §261.4(b), excluded wastes include:

  • Household Hazardous Waste
  • Agricultural Waste
  • Mining Overburden
  • Fossil Fuel Combustion Waste (Bevill)
  • Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Wastes (Bentsen Amendment)
  • Trivalent Chromium Wastes
  • Mining and Mineral Processing Wastes (Bevill)
  • Cement Kiln Dust (Bevill)
  • Arsenically Treated Wood
  • Petroleum Contaminated Media & Debris from Underground Storage Tanks
  • Injected Groundwater
  • Spent Chloroflurocarbon Refrigerants
  • Used Oil Filters
  • Used Oil Distillation Bottoms
  • Landfill Leachate or Gas Condensate Derived from Certain Listed Wastes
  • Project XL Pilot Project Exclusions

Many of these exclusions are conditional and often specific to an industry or type of waste. Careful reading of the conditional exclusions is necessary when making these determinations.

Is the waste a listed hazardous waste?

The EPA has studied hundreds of different waste streams and listed the wastes accordingly. Listed wastes are described or listed on four different lists that can be found at 40 CFR 261, Subpart D. These four lists are:

  • The F list — The F list designates particular solid wastes from certain common industrial or manufacturing processes as hazardous. Because the processes producing these wastes can occur in different sectors of industry, the F list wastes are known as wastes from nonspecific sources. The F list is codified in the regulations at §261.31.
  • The K list — The K list designates particular solid wastes from certain specific industries as hazardous. K list wastes are known as wastes from specific sources. The K list is found at §261.32.
  • The P list and the U list — These two lists are similar in that both list pure or commercial grade formulations of certain specific unused chemicals as hazardous. Both the P list and U list are codified in §261.33.

Does the waste exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste?    

There are four characteristics of hazardous waste. These characteristics help us understand what the waste is capable of/how it poses a danger. The four characteristics are ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity. Full definitions of these characteristics can be found here.

Common Hazardous Waste Generator Violations

In honor of throwback Thursday I decided to rehash one of the first things we ever wrote about on this blog. The ten most common violations incurred by hazardous waste generators. As you can most likely infer, these items are ones you’ll want to make sure are not happening at your company. The ten items are listed and explained below. And if you’d like a little more information about the violations and how to avoid them you can also check out our eBook on the subject.

1. Open Container Violations – An open container includes containers that have tinfoil caps, funnels, or loose caps. Containers must be closed at all times unless they are being filled or emptied.

2. Storage Area Accumulation Date Violations – Remember, containers of hazardous waste in a 90 or 180-day storage area must be marked with an accumulation date.

3. Universal Waste Violations – This includes management of wastes such as batteries and lamps.

4. Used Oil Labeling Violations – Remember that any container or tank utilized to hold used oil should be labeled “Used Oil.”

5. Storage Area Labeling Violations – Containers in a 90 or 180-day storage area must be marked with the words “Hazardous Waste” as well as generator name and address, accumulation start date, contents, physical state, and hazardous properties.

6. Satellite Accumulation Area Labeling Violations – Always remember that a container must be labeled after the first drop of waste is added.

7. Contingency Planning Violations – Make sure to have you plan in place and that all employees know what to do if needed.

8. Failure to Perform Weekly Inspections of Hazardous Waste Storage Areas – Fairly self-explanatory, make sure you have weekly inspections done.

9. Failure to Have a Hazardous Waste Reduction Plan On-Site – A hazardous waste reduction plan (often referred to as a waste minimization plan) is required for all hazardous waste generators.

10. Failure to Make a Hazardous Waste Determination – It is imparitive to remember that a hazardous waste determination must be made for each and every waste generated on your site.

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

Hazardous Waste Class Definitions Part 2

On Tuesday we covered the first three classes of hazardous waste classes including explosives, gasses, and flammable liquids. Today, we are going to cover the remaining 6 classes as well as the ORM (other regulated materials) definitions. To refresh your memory, a hazard class is the category of hazard assigned to a hazardous material under the definitional criteria of 49 CFR Part 173 and the provisions of the HMT at §172.101. A material may meet the defining criteria for more than one hazard class but is assigned to only one hazard class. That said, read on for the definitional criteria of classes 4-9.

Class 4  

  • Division 4.1 – Flammable Solid – Explosives wetted with sufficient water, alcohol, or plasticizer to explosive properties that when dry are Class 1 explosives and self-reactive explosives that are liable to undergo at normal or elevated temperatures a strongly exothermal decomposition caused by high transport temperatures or by contamination. Also included in this definition are readily combustible solids that may cause a fire through friction, have a burning rate faster than 2.2 mm (0.087 inches) per second, or any ignitable metal powders. Ref. 173.124(a).
  • Division 4.2 – Spontaneously combustible materials – Includes pyrophoric material, which is a liquid or solid that even in small quantities and without an external ignition source can ignite within five minutes after coming into contact with air; and self-heating material, which is liable to self-heat when it comes into contact with air even without an energy source. Ref. 173.124(b).
  • Division 4.3 – Dangerous when wet materials – A material that by contact with water is liable to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable or toxic gas at a rate greater than one liter per kilogram of the material per hour. Ref. 173.124(c).

Class 5  

  • Division 5.1 – Oxidizer – A material that may by yielding oxygen cause or enhance the combustion of other materials. Ref. 173.127(a).
  • Division 5.2 – Organic peroxide – Any organic compound containing oxygen in the bivalent -O-O structure and which may be considered a derivative of hydrogen peroxide where one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals, must be classed as an organic peroxide unless: it classifies as an explosive; the predominant hazard of the material is other than from an organic peroxide; the material is forbidden for transport; or the material will not pose a hazard in transport. Ref. 173.128(a).

Class 6  

  • Division 6.1 – Poisonous materials – A material, other than a gas, which is known to be so toxic to humans as to afford a hazard to health during transportation; or the material is presumed to be toxic because there is evidence of oral, dermal, and/or inhalation toxicity in laboratory animals. Ref. 173.132(a).
  • Division 6.2 – Infectious substance or etiologic agent – A viable microorganism, or its toxin, which causes or may cause disease in humans or animals. Ref. 173.134(a).

Class 7  

  • Radioactive Material – Any material, or combination of materials, that spontaneously emits ionizing radiation, and having a specific activity greater than 0.002 microcuries per gram. Ref. 173.403.

Class 8  

  • Corrosive Material – A liquid or solid that causes visible destruction or irreversible alterations in human skin tissue at the site of contact, or a liquid that has a severe corrosion rate on steel or aluminum. Ref. 173.136(a).

Class 9  

  • Miscellaneous hazardous material – A material that presents a hazard during transport but is not included in any other hazard class. Ref. 173.140(a) and (b).

ORM – Other Regulated Materials – A material such as a consumer commodity that, though otherwise subject to DOT regulations, presents a limited hazard during transportation due to its form, quantity and packaging. Ref. 173.144.

Hazardous Waste Class Definitions

In our RCRA training programs, we provide information about the different hazard classes and their divisions, each division has a specific definition of what constitutes that type of material. A hazard class is the category of hazard assigned to a hazardous material under the definitional criteria of 49 CFR Part 173 and the provisions of the HMT at §172.101. A material may meet the defining criteria for more than one hazard class but is assigned to only one hazard class. The nine (9) hazard classes, numbered 1-9, are defined at 49 CFR Part 173. Of these nine classes, some are further broken down into divisions. For your reference, we will be defining these classes and divisions this week. Classes 1-3 are defined below, look for 4-8 on Thursday!

Class 1 – Explosives – Any substance, article, or device, which is designed to function by explosion, i.e., an extremely rapid release of gas and heat, or by chemical reaction within itself is able to function in a similar manner even if not designed to function by explosion, unless such substance or article is otherwise specifically classified.

  • Division 1.1 – Consists of explosives that have a mass explosion hazard. A mass explosion is one which affects almost the entire load instantaneously. (Formerly Class A explosives prior to Jan. 1, 1991). Ref. 173.50(b)(1).
  • Division 1.2 – Consists of explosives that have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard. (Formerly Class A or Class B explosives). Ref. 173.50(b)(2).
  • Division 1.3 – Consists of explosives that have a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or minor projection hazard or both, but not a mass explosion hazard. (Formerly Class B explosives). Ref. 173.50(b)(3).
  • Division 1.4 – Consists of explosive devices that present a minor explosion hazard. No device in this division may contain more than 25 g (0.9 ounces) of a detonating material. (Formerly Class C explosives.) Ref. 173.50(b)(4).
  • Division 1.5 – Consists of very insensitive explosives. This division comprises substances which have a mass explosion hazard but are so insensitive that there is very little probability of initiation or of transition from burning to detonation under normal conditions of transport. (Formerly Blasting Agents.) Ref. 173.50(b)(5).
  • Division 1.6 – Consists of extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosive hazard. This division comprises articles which contain only extremely insensitive detonating materials with negligible probability of accidental initiation or propagation. (No previous applicable hazard class.) Ref. 173.50(b)(6).

Class 2 

  • Division 2.1 – Flammable Gas – Material that is a gas at 20°C (68°F) or less and 101.3kPa (14.7 psi) of pressure or a material which has a boiling point of 20°C or less at 101.3 kPa, which is ignitable at 101.3 kPa of pressure when in a mixture of 13 percent or less by volume of air; or has a flammable range at 101.3 kPa with air of at least 12 percent regardless of the lower limit. Ref. 173.115(a).
  • Division 2.2 – Non-flammable, non-poisonous compressed gas – including compressed gas, liquefied gas, pressurized cryogenic gas, and compressed gas in solution. Any material which exerts pressure of 280 kPa (41 psi) at 20°C and does not meet the definition of Division 2.1 or 2.3. Ref. 173.115(b).
  • Division 2.3 – Poisonous Gas – A material which is a gas at 20°C or less and a pressure of 101.3 kPa and which is a material known to be toxic to humans or is presumed to be toxic to laboratory animals and therefore poses a hazard to health during transportation. Ref. 173.115(c).

Class 3

  • Flammable Liquid – Any liquid having a flashpoint of not more than 60°C (140°F), with certain exceptions. Ref. 173.120(a).
  • Combustible Liquid – Any liquid that has a flashpoint above 60°C (140°F) and below 93°C (200°F) and does not meet the definition of any other hazard class. Ref. 173.120(b).

Characteristics of Hazardous Waste

In the past we’ve discussed what hazardous waste is defined as. Today, I’d like to focus on the different characteristics hazardous waste may possess. These characteristics help us understand what the waste is capable of/how it poses a danger. We discussed some aspects of these characteristics in our Household Hazardous Wastes eBook but today I hope to delve further into them.

There are four basic characteristics to look at; ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity.

Ignitability – According to the EPA, “Ignitable wastes can create fires under certain conditions, are spontaneously combustible, or have a flash point less than 60 °C (140 °F). Examples include waste oils and used solvents.” A flash point is the lowest temperature at which a substance can evaporate enough to produce sufficient vapor to form an ignitable mixture with the air.

Ignitable wastes can be broken down into two categories, solids, and liquids. As stated above, flash point is the most important things to remember when it comes to ignitable liquids. You have to consider other things with solids though. Non liquid ignitables are capable under standard temperature and pressure of causing fire through friction, absorption of moisture, or spontaneous chemical changes. If ignited, these wastes will burn so vigorously and persistently that they create a hazardous situation.

Corrosivity – According to the EPA, “Corrosive wastes are acids or bases (pH less than or equal to 2, or greater than or equal to 12.5) that are capable of corroding metal containers, such as storage tanks, drums, and barrels. Battery acid is an example.” A corrosive can cause skin damage to people and significantly corrode metal. A corrosive hazardous material can be either liquid or solid.

Reactivity – The EPA defines reactive wastes as, “wastes [which] are unstable under “normal” conditions. They can cause explosions, toxic fumes, gases, or vapors when heated, compressed, or mixed with water. Examples include lithium-sulfur batteries and explosives.”

Reactive wastes are, in themselves, unstable. They have the potential to form toxic gases, vapors, or fumes which can endanger human health. Some (D003) form potentially explosive mixtures with water. Reactive wastes are capable of detonation or explosive reactions.

Toxicity – Toxic wastes are defined by the EPA as wastes that are “harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed (e.g., containing mercury, lead, etc.). When toxic wastes are land disposed, contaminated liquid may leach from the waste and pollute ground water.”

More information regarding these waste characteristics can be found in the 40 CFR §261.

Hazardous wastes will fall into one or more of these categories and it is important to know which ones you and/or your company’s wastes fall into so you can safely handle them. Additionally, it is vital to remember that “non-hazardous” does not mean non-dangerous or unregulated, always check with EPA guidelines and individual state laws to ensure compliance and safety.

Basic RCRA Waste Regulations

For starters, I want to apologize for missing a day of blogging last Thursday. I attended a Heritage RCRA refresher course in downtown Indianapolis and was without internet for most of the day. On the plus side, attending the course gave me ideas for several different blog posts!

Over the coming weeks, I will be singling out some of what I learned and sharing it on here. To begin, I will go over the basic federal requirements set forth by RCRA. It is always important to remember, however, that each state likely has additional requirements that must be met.

The first thing you will want to do is make some basic determinations. On an ongoing basis you should be asking and answering the following questions:

  • In relation to identifying waste streams –
    • What are all the wastes being generated at my facility?
    • What are the different departments generating?
  • In relation to hazardous waste determination –
    • According to the regulatory definitions, which of the wastes being generated are classified as hazardous?
  • In relation to determining regulatory categories –
    • How much waste do you have on site and what is done with it? (see form 8700-12)

Next, you will want to make sure your containers are up to standard. It must be ensured that containers are:

  • In good condition (not rusty, no corrosion, no leaking)
  • Compatible with the waste (you want to make sure the waste will not react with the container)
  • Labeled or marked “hazardous waste”
  • Marked with an accumulation start date
  • Kept closed (as a rule of thumb this means you could tip it over and it wouldn’t leak)
  • Managed to avoid damage and releases
  • Kept free of incompatible wastes; incompatible wastes must never be placed in the same container

The third thing to check is that you are following regulations regarding accumulation areas. For this section you will need to make sure:

  • Ignitable and reactive wastes are at least 50 feet from the property line
  • “No Smoking” signs are posted
  • Incompatible wastes are separated or protected from each other
  • Emergency equipment is available
  • There is adequate aisle space maintained (at least 2½ feet)

Additionally, someone needs to:

  • Inspect container accumulation areas weekly
  • Inspect emergency equipment at least monthly
  • Make shipments every 90 days if you are a large quantity generator
  • Make shipments every 180 days if you are a small quantity generator

Lastly, you must follow the compliance documentation rules. These rules include:

  • Having a contingency plan
  • Having personnel training program and records
  • Documentation of inspections
  • Manifests and LDR forms
  • Biennial Reports
  • Waste analyses/determinations
  • Documented waste minimization program on site

Remember, these guidelines are just a starting point. To ensure compliance you must look into all regulations as they apply to your business, both at federal and state level. Keep checking the blog in the coming weeks for more information about RCRA.

How to Avoid Hazardous Waste Weekly Inspection Violations

Sometime in the next couple of months we will be publishing a new eBook about some common hazardous waste generator violations and how you can go about avoiding them. To tide you over until that comes out though, I’d like to take our post today to write about weekly inspections of hazardous waste storage areas and what these inspections should include.

Inspections should be done once a week on the same day. Mondays and Fridays are typically not good choices because they are often spent catching up from the weekend or readying for the weekend respectively. So, once you pick your inspection day you will need to have both a designated inspector and a back-up because you want to do everything possible to ensure you will never miss a week. Record your weekly inspections in an inspection log.

Inspections should consist of the following at a minimum:

1. Is the area free of debris and other materials?

2. Is the ground clean and dry?

3. Are container tops free of spillage?

4. Is the area free of spills or leaks?

5. Are all of the containers in good condition? (Free of dents and corrosion, not bulging, or otherwise deteriorating?)

6. Are all containers properly closed?

7. Are containers labeled with hazardous waste labels?

8. Is the following information on the labels filled out?

    • Generator name and address
    • Accumulation start date
    • Contents
    • Physical state
    • Hazardous properties

9. Is the information on the labels legible?

10. Have wastes been disposed of within the allowable accumulation time?

11. Are the containers compatible with their contents?

12. Are incompatible wastes stored separately?

13. Is there adequate aisle space?

By making sure to check each of these things every week you will ensure that your company is not responsible for any hazardous waste accidents and ensures that you will not get in trouble with the EPA. Keep checking our blog for a link to the full eBook coming soon!

Things You Think You Know About Hazardous Waste – Pt. 3

This week we finish our things you think you know series contributed by Heritage Compliance Manager Mike Karpinski. The topic of this weeks post; as long as a business complies with EPA waste regulations they don’t have to worry about anything else.

Working at a national waste management company like Heritage, I often dream this was the case, but unfortunately there are many other federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Agency and others that all have regulations pertaining to hazardous wastes and that’s not the end of it.

Each state (except for Iowa and Alaska) also has state specific regulations that are, at a minimum, equivalent to the federal regulations and may be stricter than the federal regulations.  Oftentimes, a state will have equivalent regulations, but different administrative requirements that cannot be ignored. For a company like Heritage that does business across all 50 states that means complying with a minimum of 196 different regulations relating to the proper management of hazardous materials (and I haven’t even mentioned all the city or county requirements yet…. I need an aspirin).

This reminds me, many of the statements made in the previous posts are based on general descriptions of federal regulations. Other Federal, State, or Local regulations may apply to your situation which may counteract these statements. This is one of the best reasons for working with a company like Heritage Environmental Services, LLC, we have experience dealing with these regulations and are trained to work closely with our customers to assist them in complying with these requirements.

Things You Think You Know About Hazardous Waste – Pt. 2

Continuing our series of things you think you know about hazardous waste, this week Heritage Compliance Manager Mike Karpinski wrote about another common hazardous waste misconception. The idea that all non-hazardous wastes are “safe.”

This is the opposite side of last weeks post about all hazardous wastes being dangerous. As far as safety is concerned, it is even more important that people working with wastes understand that just seeing a “Non-Hazardous” or “Non-Regulated” sticker on a container does not mean it is not a dangerous material or is not subject to other regulatory programs.

These lables are simply regulatory classifications that guide the management of such materials. Often times, a material labeled “non-hazardous” can present an equal health or physical hazard to persons working with it as something marked hazardous (remember the story about the swimming pool from last week). Physical and chemical hazards associated with materials have thresholds established by the regulations for classification of waste.

For example, a liquid is considered hazardous waste when it has a flash point less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit by a specified testing protocol. A flashpoint is the temperature at which a particular organic compound gives off sufficient vapor to ignite in the air. Using the flashpoint criteria, gasoline would be a hazardous waste based on flash point, but used motor oil typically would not. That being said, we must note that both of these materials should be handled with care not only from an environmental perspective but from a fire hazard perspective.