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WELLSVILLE, Ohio – For the third consecutive year, Heritage Thermal Services (HTS) field services technicians removed used chemicals from the chemistry laboratory at Wellsville High School. The pair identified, sorted and packed the chemical discards before transporting them to the incineration facility for proper disposal.

HTS has provided this important environmental service to Wellsville and two other neighboring school districts free of charge. This work, known as a lab pack, removes a potential risk to students and staff, and helps the district stay in compliance with environmental regulations.

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.

If you ever find yourself with a spare minute you should do a quick Google search for things to stop doing, things you do that make you look dumb, etc. It’s a pretty common theme in the blogosphere. Don’t believe me? Check out a couple of my favorites before reading on.

Number one on my list is, “15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly” (this one is even in a handy infographic). Another good one is “10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier.” Pretty good, right? I think the great thing about this kind of post is that we are so used to being told what to do that it is a bit of a novelty to see information presented in this less conventional way.

That said, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and list out six mistakes you may be making, in the area of hazardous waste regulations, manifests, and more, that you should really try to stop;

1. Neglecting state regulations when dealing with hazardous wastes. While RCRA regulates hazardous waste management on a national level, you can still get yourself and your company into trouble if you don’t know about and adhere to individual state regulations.

2. Not properly closing hazardous waste containers. Always remember, if contents would spill out in the event of an overturn the container is considered open.

3. Using hazardous waste storage containers that are too old/not in ideal condition. As a general rule, know that if the container becomes damaged, deteriorated, or begins to leak, the wastes should be transferred to a container that is in good condition.

4. Having inadequate aisle space in your container storage area. Adequate aisle space must be maintained to allow unobstructed movement in response to an emergency as well as to perform weekly inspections.

5. Not performing weekly storage area inspections. This was one of the points covered in our Top 10 Hazardous Waste Violations eBook. It is vital to perform these inspections in order to maintain RCRA compliance.

6. Failing to follow compliance documentation rules. This includes, having a contingency plan, having personnel training program and records, having documentation of inspections, having copies of manifests and LDR forms, having biennial reports, having waste analyses/determinations, and having a documented waste minimization program on site.

So what do you think? Are you still making any of these mistakes? And perhaps most importantly, if you are what plans do you have so you can cease making them?

This is another excerpt taken from our RCRA training literature. The following is a good list of steps to take to ensure proper hazardous waste manifest completion.

1. Complete all federally required information.

2. Complete the state required information, if any, for the TSD state.

3. Complete the state required information, if any, for the generator’s state.

4. Complete TSD specific information, if any. (For example: a TSD may require waste stream numbers).

5. Review the manifest. Is all information complete and correct? Are all copies legible?

6. Read the generator’s certification and sign the manifest.

7. Complete, review, and sign LDR form, as applicable.

8. Have the first transporter sign the acknowledgement of receipt of materials. Be sure to check that the vehicle placarding and container labels are correct, check container counts and agree with driver.

9. Remove appropriate copies of the manifest. Retain a copy of the LDR, as applicable.

10. File appropriate copies of manifest, a copy of LDR form, and additional documents.

Some Additional Tips

  • After the initial completion of the manifest and subsequent signatures and changes, check to make certain all marks are legible on all copies.
  • Maintain a log, either written or by computer, to track open manifests and manifest document numbers.
  • Corrections that are made should be accompanied by initials and date (ASM 6/30/06). Corrections in type and quantity require contact between the generator and TSD. If these corrections are made by telephone, both parties should date and initial the change.
  • All changes should be made by line out and initials (F006 D008 ASM 6/30/94). Do not use correction tapes or liquids.
  • Maintain a working relationship with government agencies.

The following list of regulatory requirements for containerized hazardous wastes is taken from the supplimental information included in our RCRA training seminar booklets. While these points serve as a good summary, it is important to remember to be vigilant on keeping up to date with both national and state regulations.

1. Containers used for holding hazardous waste must be in good condition. If the container becomes damaged, deteriorated or begins to leak, the wastes should be transferred to a container that is in good condition.

2. Containers used for holding hazardous waste must not be deteriorated by the waste. The container or liner must be compatible with the wastes to be stored.

3. Each container must be labeled or marked clearly with the words “Hazardous Waste”.

4. The accumulation start date for each container is to be marked clearly on each container. The accumulation start date marking must be visible for inspection.

5. Containers holding hazardous wastes must always be closed during storage. The only time containers can be opened is to add or remove waste.

6. Containers holding hazardous wastes are to be managed to avoid rupturing or damaging the container, or otherwise causing the container to leak.

7. Areas where ignitable or reactive wastes are stored should be located at least 50 feet from the facility property line.

8. Ignitable or reactive wastes are to be separated and protected from sources of ignition or reaction (e.g., open flames, smoking, cutting, welding, hot surfaces, frictional heat, sparks, and radiant heat).

9. “No Smoking” signs are to be posted wherever there is a hazard from ignitable or reactive wastes.

10. Incompatible wastes, or incompatible wastes and materials must not be placed in the same container for storage purposes. Further, hazardous waste cannot be placed in an unwashed container that previously held an incompatible waste or material.

11. Incompatible hazardous wastes and hazardous wastes incompatible with nearby materials must be separated or protected from each other by means of a dike, berm, wall, or separated by sufficient distance.

12. Emergency equipment is required to be available at each accumulation area. We recomend the following:

  • a.) Internal communications or alarm
  • b.) Telephone or two-way radio
  • c.) Portable fire extinguishers
  • d.) Fire control equipment
  • e.) Spill control equipment
  • f.) Decontamination equipment
  • g.) Water at adequate volume and pressure

For a list of the federally required equipment check 40CFR §265.32.

13. Adequate aisle space in the container storage area is to be maintained to allow unobstructed movement in response to an emergency, as well as to perform weekly inspections.

14. Weekly inspections must be made of container storage areas, looking for leaks or other evidence of actual or pending releases.

15. Containerized wastes are to be shipped to off-site (commercial) Hazardous Waste Management (HWM) facilities within 90 days of the accumulation start date. Small Quantity Generators (100-1000 kg/mo category) are allowed 180 day accumulation period. The SQG accumulation period is extended to 270 days when the wastes are shipped to HWM facilities that are over 200 miles from the SQG.

40 CFR defines solid waste as “any discarded material that is not excluded under §261.4(a) or that is not excluded by a variance granted under §260.30 and §260.31 or that is not excluded by a non- waste determination under §260.30 and §260.34.” Additionally, discarded material is, “any material which is: (A) Abandoned… (B) Recycled…(C) Considered inherently waste-like, …or (D) A military munition identified as a solid waste in §266.202.” This makes everything perfectly clear, right? Relative fuzziness aside, what I want to talk about today is the 40 CFR 261.2 recycling exemptions as they relate to solid wastes.

There are five types of material that can be considered for recycling exemptions:

  1. Spent materials – The EPA defines spent materials as “any material that has been used and as a result of contamination can no longer serve the purpose for which it was produced without processing.”
  2. Sludges – According to the EPA, a sludge is “any solid, semi-solid, or liquid waste generated from a municipal, commercial, or industrial wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility exclusive of the treated effluent from a wastewater treatment plant.”
  3. Byproducts – “A byproduct is a material that is not one of the primary products of a production process and is not solely or separately produced by the production process. Examples are process residues such as slags or distillation column bottoms. The term does not include a co-product that is produced for the general public’s use and is ordinarily used in the form it is produced by the process.”
  4. Commercial chemical products – These products are not being used but have not been spent for an intended purpose.
  5. Scrap metal

These five materials can have recycling exemptions in four different ways:

  1. Use constituting disposal – Used in a manner constituting disposal
  2. Burning waste or waste fuels for energy recovery or using wastes to produce a fuel.
  3. Reclamation of wastes – According to the EPA, “A material is reclaimed if it is processed to recover a usable product, or if it is regenerated. Examples are recovery of lead values from spent batteries and regeneration of spent solvents.”
  4. Speculative accumulation – This is one of the more detailed recycling exemptions.  According to the EPA, “A material is accumulated speculatively if it is accumulated before being recycled. A material is not accumulated speculatively, however, if the person accumulating it can show that the material is potentially recyclable and has a feasible means of being recycled; and that—during the calendar year (commencing on January 1)—the amount of material that is recycled, or transferred to a different site for recycling, equals at least 75 percent by weight or volume of the amount of that material accumulated at the beginning of the period.” More information about this can be found in 40 CFR §261.1.

Recycling exemptions are just a small portion of possible exceptions. Always check 40 CFR and state regulations for full information.

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.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like it has really been a while since I last blogged. I hope everyone had a good holiday/new year and that we all can be ready to jump into 2013. In an attempt to start things strong, I want to write another post about something I learned at the RCRA training seminar in December.

I have written in the past about different things that are often viewed as “common hazardous waste violations.” You may remember the post about Hazardous Waste Reduction Plans or the one about Avoiding Weekly Hazardous Waste Inspection Violations. Today, however, I want to discuss the US EPA’s list of the top 10 violations. In particular, I will write about whether the issues are substantive or procedural and what those classifications mean.

To begin, we need to identify the difference between these types of requirements:

  • Substantive Requirements – Either provide material reduction in risk or materially increase environmental protection.
  • Procedural Requirements – Have an indirect impact on risk reduction but are significant in terms of regulatory agency assessment of compliance.

Both types are important and neither can be ignored if you and your company want to ensure EPA and RCRA compliance.

So now we can look at how the top ten violations can be seperated into these two categories.

Substantive Violations from the EPA Top 10 Waste Violations

  • Lack of proper waste determination
  • Container violations
  • Inadequate aisel space
  • Incompatible wastes in close proximity
  • Inadequate inspections*
  • Inadequate training*

Procedural Violations from the EPA Top 10 Waste Violations

  • Inadequate inspections*
  • Inadequate training*
  • Accumulation time exceedances
  • Satellite container issues
    • location, volume, marking
  • Inadequate contingency plan
  • LDR notice issues

As you can see, inadequate inspections and inadequate training can fall under both categories. This means they can both provide material reduction in risk or materially increase environmental protection and be significant in terms of regulatory agency assessment of compliance. Perhaps the most important take-away from this post is that while common violations can fall into two categories, both must be considered and followed in order to ensure RCRA complience.

For more information about common violations, look for our Top 10 Hazardous Waste Violations eBook coming soon.

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.

According to the EPA, “the National Waste Minimization Program supports efforts that promote a more sustainable society, reduce the amounts of waste generated, and lower the toxicity and persistence of wastes that are generated.” The program focuses on 31 separate “priority chemicals” found in many of our nation’s wastes and products. The primary focus is on eliminating or reducing the quantity of these chemicals that are produced with a secondary focus on recycling them when reduction or elimination cannot be achieved.

There are a few different tools and methods that can be used to aid in the reduction and elimination of these wastes including, “lean manufacturing, energy recovery, Environmental Management Systems (EMS), and green chemistry.” More information about each of these methods can be found on the Heritage website.

A major player in the minimization game is the hazardous waste reduction plan. A hazardous waste reduction plan (often referred to as a waste minimization plan) is required for all hazardous waste generators. General requirements include:

  • Corporate policy statement of support for pollution prevention
  • Description of your pollution prevention planning team(s) makeup, authority, and responsibility
  • Description of how all of the groups (production, laboratory, maintenance, shipping, marketing, engineering, and others) will work together to reduce waste production and energy consumption
  • Plan for publicizing and gaining company-wide support for the pollution prevention program
  • Plan for communicating the successes and failures of pollution prevention programs within your company
  • Description of the processes that produce, use, or release hazardous or toxic materials, including clear definition of the amounts and types of substances, materials, and products under consideration
  • List of treatment, disposal, and recycling facilities and transporters currently used
  • Preliminary review of the cost of pollution control and waste disposal
  • Description of current and past pollution prevention activities at your facility
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of past and ongoing pollution prevention activities
  • Criteria for prioritizing candidate facilities, processes, and streams for pollution prevention projects

These Hazardous Waste Reduction Plans should be updated annually and there should always be a copy onsite. Additionally, while the points above cover national requirements, many states have additional criteria that must be met. By making sure to keep this plan up-to-date and available you can help prevent EPA violations for your company.