Preparing for the Unpredictable: Part 4

Natural Disaster Series: Special Requirement for LQG Waste Generators

Over the past few weeks, our blogs have been addressing issues pertaining to emergency response and natural disasters. A Large Quantity Generator (LQG) of hazardous waste must comply with prevention and preparedness standards that address daily management to prevent release, as well as develop a written Contingency Plan that documents how an imminent or actual release, fire, or explosion is mitigated and operations are returned to normal. Moving forward, new LQGs and LQGs updating their Contingency Plans will need to develop and distribute a Quick Reference Guide (QRG).

On November 28, 2016 the Generator Improvement Rules were published in the Federal Register, taking effect on May 30, 2017 in Iowa and Alaska. Over the past few months Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Utah have also adopted the new rules. And while states that require legislative action for these changes have up to two years to adopt the more stringent portions, knowing the changes now can prepare you for when they take effect in your state. States are not required to adopt the less stringent requirements, but Quick Reference Guides are considered more stringent.

The Quick Reference Guide is required to be distributed to police departments, fire departments, hospitals and State and local emergency response teams that may be called upon to provide emergency services, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Following the effective date of this updated regulation, new LQGs would be required to submit a Quick Reference Guide instead of the whole Contingency Plan when they update their Contingency Plans, and LQGs making modifications would only need to submit this new Quick Reference Guide.

Depending on the complexity of the facility, Contingency Plans can be quite lengthy. Contingency Plans include planning and response information which increases the complexity of the document. The size and complexity of the document can prevent first responders from identifying the relevant information needed to respond to an emergency situation. Having a shorter document that provides limited, relevant information for initial response is beneficial to both responders as well as facility operations management.

Required elements of the Quick Reference Guide are:

1. Type/names of hazardous wastes and the associated hazards;

2. Estimated maximum amount of each waste present at any one time;

3. Identification of hazardous wastes where exposure would require unique or special treatment by medical or hospital staff;

4. Map of the site where hazardous wastes are generated and accumulated and route to access the wastes;

5. Street map of the facility in relation to surrounding businesses, schools, and residential areas, how to best get to the facility or evacuate the community;

6. Locations of the water supply (i.e., fire hydrants and flow rates);

7. Identification of on-site notification systems (i.e., fire alarms, smoke alarms, release alarms, etc.); and

8. Name of emergency coordinator(s) and 24/7 phone number.

Heritage recommends submitting the Quick Reference Guide to your private emergency response provider(s) as well.

While the EPA is not formalizing the manner in which the Quick Reference Guide is submitted, they encourage generators to discuss with their local emergency responders how they would like the information conveyed. This could include incorporating the information into an existing application.

Heritage, in a continuing effort to support our customers, has created a model Quick Reference Guide. This document, which is approximately 5 pages in length, is a great place for generators to start in creating their own summary. Click here for the Example Quick Reference Guide 2017

Preparing for the Unpredictable: Part 3

Natural Disaster Series: Business Continuity Plan 

In the first part of this series, we shared three initial steps you can take to begin your natural disaster preparation plan. Part 2 introduced three key plans that can help you, your employees, and your facility quickly respond to an impending natural disaster. Here in Part 3, you will review the basics of preparing a Business Continuity Plan, including preparing for the elevated waste disposal needs that typically follow a natural disaster.

A business continuity plan helps you to be prepared to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster. One initial concern is identifying an alternative location from where you can conduct administrative functions after a natural disaster. From there you can be in contact with emergency agencies, employees, customers, and suppliers. You will need to maintain an up-to-date list of contact information for those people and businesses and include it in the off-site backup that was discussed in Part 1.

To enable your business to stay operational or get back online, you need to evaluate potential supply chain issues. Your suppliers are a key part of your business operations. Disruption in your supply chain can stall your own recovery. For example, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 affected an estimated 10,000 manufacturing facilities, many of which were not heavily damaged but were forced to temporarily suspend operations due to supply chain disruptions. Prepare for this potential business impact by asking the following questions ahead of time: For each supplier, how long could you go without their supplies or services? What alternative suppliers could you use? Can you inventory a surplus of key products in advance?

The volume of debris and wastes that can be generated by a natural disaster is staggering. Hurricane Andrew generated more than 43 million cubic yards of debris, and the Joplin, Missouri tornado generated more than 1.5 million cubic yards. Although not on the same scale as these regional numbers, your business will undoubtedly need to prepare for out-of-the-ordinary waste disposal needs following a natural disaster. In addition to construction and demolition-like debris, you may have equipment that could release special wastes when damaged—materials such as hydraulic fluid, PCB-containing materials, lead acids, and so forth. Plan ahead by coordinating with your preferred waste disposal provider about post-natural disaster communications, potential waste types and volumes, and other facility-specific issues.

These important topics and more are discussed in the “Business Continuity Toolkit” available from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). The toolkit walks you through the following steps in plan development:

  • – Know Your Risks
  • – Know Your Operations
  • – Know Your Employees
  • – Know Your Key Customers, Contacts, Suppliers, and Vendors
  • – Know Your Information Technology
  • – Know Your Finances
  • – Know When to Update Your Plan
  • – Know When to Test Your Plan

Although the toolkit states that it is particularly useful for small businesses, it can easily be expanded upon to meet the needs of larger operations. You can download the entire toolkit in pdf format, and the toolkit’s forms in customizable format, at this webpage:

We hope this information helps you get started on your preparations for potential natural disasters. If you would like to talk to us about facility-specific strategies, please contact us via our website at or call 877-436-8778. Heritage is here to help you succeed, no matter what Mother Nature may throw at you!

Preparing for the Unpredictable: Part 2

Natural Disaster Series: Planning Is Key

Part 1 of this series discussed three initial steps you can take to begin your natural disaster preparation plan. In this post, you will be introduced to three key plans that can help you, your employees, and your facility quickly respond to an impending natural disaster. 

“What?! More plans?” you groan. Not to worry, much of the information you’ll need for your natural disaster plan is already available in your emergency response plans and evacuation plans. It is best to pull that information out and put it in a stand-alone natural disaster plan so getting to it is quick and easy—you don’t want to be pouring through three other plans to find the natural disaster information you desperately need.

Every business needs to establish the emergency communications procedures to be used during a crisis. Identify an emergency communications coordinator that will work with specific individuals responsible for communications in distinct parts of your facility. You may also want to establish an emergency alert system for your site. Cellular communications can be easily disrupted during a natural disaster, so have alternative methods of communication established. Make sure your employees are well trained on how your emergency communications plan will work.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) provides excellent guidance and options you may want to consider using in your emergency communications plan. You can find the IBHS information here:

Know your shelter and evacuation plan. The type of natural disaster will determine if you and your employees need to evacuate the facility or shelter in-place. Include specific procedures and locations for each type of natural disaster you identify as having the potential to strike your site. Make sure your employees are trained on the correct shelter and evacuation procedures and that you provide reminder training before common natural disaster seasons arrive.

Have an emergency shutdown plan for securing materials and equipment that may be at risk during a natural disaster, such as those in outside areas or other vulnerable locations on your site. Identify equipment that needs to be powered down safely, equipment and materials that need to be secured, and utilities that may need to be shut off. If you have adequate warning of an impending natural disaster, arrange for hazardous and other regulated wastes to be removed from your facility by your waste disposal partner.

IBHS offers an “EZ-PREP™ Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning” guide for preparing an emergency preparedness and response plan, including customizable checklists for supplies and emergency preparation and response tasks.  You can download the guide and checklists here:

Next up in this series, we will present tips for getting started on your Business Continuity Plan, a must-have as you prepare for the unpredictable.

Preparing for the Unpredictable: Part 1

Natural Disaster Series: Beginning Your Preparation Plan

The recent hurricanes and earthquakes have affected the lives of millions of people in the Caribbean and North America. For those of us not directly affected by these recent events, it still gives us pause to consider what could happen where we live. Perhaps you are in tornado alley of the Midwest, blizzardy northern latitudes, or wildfire-prone areas. No matter where you live on planet Earth, there is a natural disaster type(s) that Mother Nature tends to throw at your locale.

Natural disasters can have devastating effects on businesses and local or regional economies. The Institute for Business and Home Safety says that 25″ or more of businesses that close due to a natural disaster never reopen. On a global scale, Business Insider reports that from 2000 to 2015, natural disasters cost the global economy $2.5 trillion. Consider these numbers to get an even clearer picture of the effects of natural disasters:

  • In 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused 49 fatalities and more than $15 million in damage in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
  • In 2015, the Okanogan Complex fire resulted in 3 fatalities and $8 billion in damages in Okanogan County, Washington.
  • In 2011, the Joplin, Missouri tornado resulted in 160 fatalities and more than $3 billion in damages.
  • In 1997, the Red River flood caused more than $2 billion in damages in North Dakota, Minnesota, and southern Manitoba.
  • In 1994, the Northridge earthquake resulted in 57 fatalities and $23 billion in damages in the greater Los Angeles, California area.

Although natural disasters are difficult if not impossible to predict, preparing for them is still an important part of every smart business operation. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-intensive. Consider the following steps to get started on your natural disaster preparation.

Identify potential natural disasters that could affect your business locations. You’re probably already aware of the recurring biggies—tornadoes, hurricanes, and so forth. But also think a little broader to identify those that occur less frequently, such as local flooding during exceptionally wet springs or wildfires during exceptionally dry summers.

Consider the locations of your key supply and distribution partners. Map their locations and transport routes so you can see at a glance where natural disasters at other locations could indirectly affect your operations. Make sure you update your map annually to reflect changes to your supply and distribution chains. This simple map, along with news reports of potential or sudden natural disasters, can provide you with a heads-up that business disruptions could occur even when all is calm at your facility.

Review your insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for the natural disasters that could strike your business. The coverage should include employees, buildings, machinery, equipment, and any other significant materials housed at your location, at a minimum. Business interruption coverage is also a good item to include in your insurance policy. It covers operating expenses such as utilities, and compensates you for income lost when a temporary business closure is needed. You may want to consider having a qualified insurance consultant review your insurance policy in light of the natural disasters you identified as potential risks for your location.

Back-up your tax, accounting, payroll, customer, vendor, and production records, and any other vital information to an off-site location at least 100 miles away from your business. Make sure this backup is completed routinely—ideally use continuous backup in real-time. If you use a remote backup service, make sure you know exactly where it is located so you understand the potential for backup issues should they be hit with a natural disaster.

In the next part of this series of blog posts, we will discuss some of the specific planning that will help you prepare for the unpredictable. In the meantime, here are two good sources of information on disaster preparedness and response: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (; for Business (

No Smoking Signs

Signage Requirements of the Generator Improvements Rule

Authored by Angie Martin, Terry Ferril and Elizabeth Dillon.  


On May 30, 2017 the EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule became effective in Alaska and Iowa. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have already picked up the new rule, as well.  Over the next 12-24 months the remaining 44 states will have the opportunity to either incorporate the new rule in its entirety or piecemeal the rule contents, as long as each state adopts the more stringent parts of this new rule. One of the more stringent aspects of the new rule is the use of “No Smoking” signs for Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) with ignitable and/or reactive wastes.

40 CFR 262.17 (a)(1)(vi)(B) of the new rule states the following (emphasis added):

The large quantity generator must take precautions to prevent accidental ignition or reaction of ignitable or reactive waste. This waste must be separated and protected from sources of ignition or reaction including but not limited to the following: Open flames, smoking, cutting and welding, hot surfaces, frictional heat, sparks (static, electrical, or mechanical), spontaneous ignition (e.g., from heat-producing chemical reactions), and radiant heat. While ignitable or reactive waste is being handled, the large quantity generator must confine smoking and open flame to specially designated locations. ‘‘No Smoking’’ signs must be conspicuously placed wherever there is a hazard from ignitable or reactive waste.

For individuals who have been working in the hazardous waste industry for the last 20 years or so, you may recall that “No Smoking” signs have been raised as a non-compliance issue by some state inspectors. In fact, many state agencies have been enforcing a reference to a note indicated in the existing regulations. The regulations (§265.176) did not require “No Smoking” signs as a requirement for LQGs, only for treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities (§265.17(a)). Clarification was requested and an EPA letter of interpretation was sent to Rosemary Cantwell at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) on June 8, 1995. This letter (RCRA online #14036) clarifies that signs are only a requirement of interim status and permitted TSD facilities not LQGs. It additionally states that IDEM could not issue a notice of violation based on a comment in the regulations if the generator was not otherwise required to comply. In other words, state regulators could not enforce a reference to a note. It is important to note at this time that some states have written into their own regulations that “No Smoking” signs are required for LQGs who have ignitable or reactive hazardous wastes. So while this new regulation may have to be adopted in some states, it may already be a requirement in others (i.e., Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire Rhode Island, Vermont).

Who does this affect? This new regulation will only affect LQGs who have ignitable or reactive hazardous wastes. Ignitable hazardous wastes are D001 characteristic wastes, or K or F listed wastes that have an “I” in the third column (i.e. F003, F005, K108, K171, K172). This also includes P and U listed wastes (virgin or obsolete chemicals) that also have an ignitable characteristic. You can refer to the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) as to the flashpoint (<140˚F qualifies as D001), but you must verify that the flashpoint was conducted as a “closed cup” test. Reactive (D003) hazardous wastes are those that:

  • Are normally unstable or can change violently without a detonating;
  • React violently with or form potentially explosive mixtures with water;
  • When mixed with water, generate toxic gases, vapors or fumes;
  • Generate toxic gases, vapors or fumes and is a cyanide or sulfide bearing waste exposed to pH conditions between 2 and 12.5 s.u.;
  • Are capable of detonation or explosive reaction if subjected to a strong initiating source or if heated under confinement;
  • Are readily capable of detonation or explosive decomposition or reaction at standard temperature and pressure;
  • Are a forbidden DOT Class 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3 explosive; and/or
  • Have an “R” in the third column of K or F listed wastes, or in parentheses for P- or U-listed wastes.
  • So what does this mean for LQGs moving forward? Based on past experiences, we anticipate that facility audits will likely include a line item for proper signage. The good news is that this requirement is an easy one to meet and maintain.

Where do you need signs? We recommend you begin by doing a facility walkthrough to create/review your hazardous waste areas where ignitable or reactive wastes are present. Such areas may include those where the waste is accumulated. Doing a facility walkthrough with this specific goal in mind will give you a fresh perspective on where signage is required.

What kind of signs do you need? Select signs that are large and have easily-readable print even from a distance. Given your workforce, signs in multiple languages may be necessary. Signs should be visible upon entering the area where the reactive and/or ignitable wastes are present and that routine operations in the area will not cause the sign to be blocked from sight (e.g., a parked forklift at the end of a shift).

Finally, make sure the signs are checked regularly to ensure they are still solidly mounted, undamaged, and conspicuous. You may want to incorporate this into your weekly inspection checklist. Hint – think like an auditor as you evaluate the areas and signs.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you navigate this new requirement. If you would like to talk to us about facility-specific strategies, please contact your local representative or reach out via our website.

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.


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