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In the part one post on this subject we mentioned that the allure posed by less stringent regulations in Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAAs) can be problematic for generators who might misclassify their accumulation areas as SAAs ­instead of the more regulated 90-day areas. Since this is a violation of EPA regulations it is imperative that generators know not only the difference between the two storage area types but also what must be done at each.

What is the difference between an SAA and a 90-Day?

A 90-day storage area is different from an SAA because it is an area where wastes can be stored for less than 90 days without a permit. An SAA has no strict time limit associated with it, just a quantity limit. Additionally, the time clock for wastes stored in an SAA does not start until the waste is moved to the waste storage area, in this case a 90-day. So the two differences between SAAs and 90-days is the amount of waste that can be stored and the length of time it can be stored before needing to be treated or shipped offsite for management.

How should containers be managed in a 90-Day?

As stated by the EPA, “The moment that waste is placed in the container, containers holding hazardous waste must be managed to prevent spills of hazardous waste.” The best way to prevent spills is by making sure that your containers are in good condition before, during, and after waste is placed in them. Containers in good condition should be free of dents and corrosion (which weaken the container), free of leaks, structurally sound, and devoid of bulges.

According to §265.171, “If a container holding hazardous waste is not in good condition, or if it begins to leak, the owner or operator must transfer the hazardous waste from this container to a container that is in good condition, or manage the waste in some other way that complies with the requirements of this part.”

What if the containers in the 90-Day are already filled?

Companies that generate and store hazardous waste should have written procedures in place detailing how containers should be managed. Additionally, all employees should be trained in the procedures. At minimum the EPA requires that generators:

  • Keep containers closed at all times, except when…adding or removing waste from the container;
  • Be careful when…handling the containers. [Generators] must open, handle, and store containers to prevent ruptures or leaks. For example, use drum grapplers to lift and move drums — don’t hand-roll the drums from one area to another; and
  • [Take note] if the container begins to leak, or you notice dents or bulges, [if this happens] transfer the waste to another container.

In addition to all of this, generators must also prevent reactions of ignitable and/or incompatible wastes. We will cover this topic in an upcoming blog post.

Quoted and cited information for this blog post (unless otherwise noted) was gathered from the EPA Handbook for Hazardous Waste Containers. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.

In Tuesday’s post we mentioned that the labeling and marking rules can be different for containers in Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAAs). We will cover that (as well as some other specifics of SAAs) in today’s post. It’s important to cover the guidelines for SAAs prior to covering those for 90-days so generators can make sure they are managing their accumulation areas properly.

According to 262.34(c)(1), “a generator may accumulate as much as 55 gallons of hazardous waste or one quart of acutely hazardous waste listed in 261.33(e) in containers at or near any point of generation where wastes initially accumulate, which is under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste, without a permit or interim status and without complying with paragraph (a) of this section provided he:

  • Complies with 265.171, 265.172, and 265.173(a) of this chapter; and
  • Marks his containers either with the words “Hazardous Waste” or with other words that identify the contents of the containers.”

So in laymen’s terms, an SAA can be utilized to store up to 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or up to 1 quart of acutely hazardous waste) for an unlimited time and with only some of the requirements needed for 90-day areas. In order to store waste in an SAA the EPA requires that you:

  • Keep your containers in good condition,
  • Ensure that the waste being stored is compatible with the container type,
  • Keep containers closed unless you are adding or removing waste,
  • Make sure you handle containers in such a way that you are preventing leaks or spills, and
  • Mark containers with the words “Hazardous Waste,” or other identification of contents.

The less stringent and numerous regulations for SAAs attract a lot of generators which can cause problems. Most often, these problems arise from generators storing in waste they have designated as an SAA but which is not actually applicable to that designation. For an accumulation area to be an SAA very specific requirements must be met. Firstly, only waste which is generated at the SAA can be stored there. An SAA cannot be used as “temporary staging areas for wastes collected from other areas.” Secondly, an SAA must be located at or near the point of generation. So if waste is generated in a lab the containers should also be located in the lab.

If a generator accumulates more than the limit of 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) at an SAA the EPA requires that they:

  • “Mark the container holding the excess accumulation of hazardous waste with the date the excess amount began accumulating,” and,
  • “Move the container holding the excess accumulation to a container storage area within 3 days.”

And remember, if a generator incorrectly manages a 90-day storage area as an SAA they will be in violation of EPA regulations. For more information about managing waste in 90-day areas keep reading our blog!

Quoted and cited information for this blog post (unless otherwise noted) was gathered from the EPA Handbook for Hazardous Waste Containers. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.

This is our final post in the SAA FAQ’s series! Remember, original and complete information from this post can be found in the EPA document on closed containers here. If you would like us to compile an eBook of these questions let us know in the comments section!

Question: Do generators have to include the hazardous waste in SAAs in the monthly quantities for determining generator status (i.e., SQG or LQG)?

Answer: Yes. Generators must include all the hazardous waste in the various SAAs in their monthly quantities for determining generator status. Sections 261.5(c) and (d) identify hazardous wastes that do not have to be counted when determining generator status. Hazardous waste stored in SAAs is not on this list; therefore, hazardous waste in SAAs must be included in the generator’s monthly quantity determination.

Question: When a facility has equipment that discharges hazardous wastes to attached containers, do the containers that collect such wastes have to be in compliance with the SAA regulations?

Answer: 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 SAA regulations, if those containers collect wastes that are listed or characteristic hazardous wastes. Waste containers in SAAs 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)(l)( ii)).

In addition, the containers in SAAs 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 SAA, and thus multiple points of generation within a single SAA, 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 SAA 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.

Question: If a facility has very small containers (e.g., vials or tubes) of hazardous waste that are too small to label with the words “hazardous waste” or “other words that identify the contents of the container”, how should the containers be labeled?

Answer: Generally, we would expect the small containers to be placed in properly labeled larger containers, which would have the added benefit of secondary containment should the small containers break. However, other approaches that would achieve the same result also would be acceptable.

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.    

Today we will be continuing with part three of our series of the top questions EPA has received about satellite accumulation areas. Original and complete information from this post can be found in the EPA document on closed containers here.

Question: The preamble to the final rule that added 262.34(c), states, “…only one waste will normally be accumulated at each satellite area.” Can there be more than one hazardous waste at an SAA? Can there be more than one container at an SAA?

Answer: Yes. It’s permissible to have more than one hazardous waste in an SAA. Likewise, it’s permissible to have more than one container of hazardous waste in an SAA. The regulations do not limit the number of hazardous wastes or the number of containers that can be placed in an SAA. The regulations limit only the total volume of hazardous waste at a single SAA to 55 gallons (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste). If there are multiple containers of hazardous waste in an SAA, each container must be labeled in accordance with 262.34{c)(I)(ii). Because the Agency did not anticipate that generators would accumulate multiple hazardous wastes/containers in an SAA, a cross-reference to the requirements for the safe storage of incompatible wastes was not included as part of the container management standards for SAAs. Nevertheless, good management practices clearly dictate that incompatible wastes should be stored separately. Furthermore, in the event that any wastes, including incompatible wastes, are stored in such a way that they may pose an imminent and substantial threat to health or the environment, §7003 of RCRA allows the Agency to take enforcement action to eliminate the threat.

Question: Can a facility have multiple SAAs?

Answer: Yes. The regulations do not limit the total number of SAAs at a generator’s facility. Likewise, the regulations do not limit the total amount of hazardous waste that can be accumulated at various SAAs across a facility. The regulations limit only the volume of hazardous waste that can be accumulated at a single SAA to 55 gallons (or I quart of acute hazardous waste). It’s not possible in a memo for the Agency to delineate for all situations what constitutes a single SAA versus what constitutes separate SAAs. The regulations state that a generator may accumulate hazardous waste “in containers at or near any point of generation where wastes initially accumulate, which is under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste.” For additional guidance about the Agency’s intent, refer to the preamble to the final rule for SAAs, which states, “Certainly…a row of full 55 gallon drums spaced 5 feet apart along the factory wall,” is not a row of distinct SAAs, but is one SAA.

Question:  If a facility has multiple SAAs, can hazardous waste be moved from one SAA to another?

Answer: No. Generators may not move hazardous wastes between SAAs. Once a hazardous waste leaves an SAA, it must be destined for a central accumulation area that is regulated under 262.34(a) or (d) or for final   treatment or disposal at a facility with a permit or interim status. However, a single SAA may have multiple points of generation. Movement or consolidation of hazardous waste within an SAA is permissible, as long as it remains “at or near” the “point of generation” and “under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste.”

In addition, a generator may have more than one 90-day or 180-day central accumulation area, and the regulations do not prohibit the movement of hazardous waste from one fully regulated central accumulation area to another, as long as the hazardous waste remains on-site. However, the 90-day or 180-day “clock” for accumulation does not restart if the hazardous waste is moved to another central accumulation area.

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.

Today we will be continuing our series of the top questions EPA has received about satellite accumulation areas. Original and complete information from this post can be found in the EPA document on closed containers here.

Question: The container management standards of 265.173(a) state. “A container holding hazardous waste must always be closed during storage, except when it is necessary to add or remove waste.” Does this mean that hazardous wastes have to be managed and/or disposed in the containers in which they were originally accumulated?

Answer: No. Generators may transfer hazardous waste between containers to facilitate storage, transportation, or treatment.” For example, a generator may wish to consolidate several partially full containers of the same hazardous waste from an SAA into one container before transferring it to a central accumulation area. Generators also may transfer hazardous waste between containers in central accumulation areas. However, the 90-day or 180-day “clock” for accumulation does not restart if the hazardous waste is transferred to another container.

Question: Do containers in SAAs have to comply with the air emission standards of Part 265 Subparts AA, BB, and CC?

Answer: No. Containers in SAAs are not required to comply with the air emission standards of Part 265 Subparts AA, BB, and CC. Likewise, SQGs are not required to comply with the air emission standards at their 180-day accumulation areas. LQGs, however, are required to comply with the RCRA air emission standards at their 90-day accumulation areas. Therefore, when an LQG transfers waste from an SAA to a 90-day central accumulation area, the applicable portions of the air emission standards of Part 265 Subparts AA, BB, and CC must be met at the 90-day central accumulation area.

Question: Section 265.174 of Subpart 1 requires that containers be inspected at least weekly for leaks and deterioration caused by corrosion or other factors. Both LQGs and SQGs must inspect containers in their central accumulation areas.  Are SQGs or LQGs required to inspect hazardous waste containers in SAAs?

Answer: No. Inspections of containers (whether weekly or some other frequency) in SAAs are not required, so long as the provisions of 262.34(c) are met.  Section 265.174, which requires inspections, is not among the provisions listed in 262.34(c) for SAAs. However, the SAA regulations do require that waste containers in an SAA must be under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste, in good condition (265.171), compatible with  its contents  (265.172), and closed except  when adding or removing waste (265.173), which  should achieve the goal of inspections: containers that are free of leaks and deterioration.

Question: SQGs must conduct training in accordance with 262.34(d)(5)(iii) and LQGs must conduct training in accordance with 265.16. Do the RCRA regulations require training of personnel working in SAAs?

Answer: No. The RCRA regulations do not require training of personnel working in SAAs. Personnel that have access to or work in central accumulation areas, including those that move hazardous waste from a SAA to a central accumulation area, must be trained. As the ones actually generating hazardous waste, however, personnel working in SAAs need to be familiar enough with the chemicals with which they are working to know when they have generated a hazardous waste so that it will be managed in accordance with the RCRA regulations.

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.

In their memo on closed containers the EPA provided several frequently asked questions and their answers. In our next couple of posts we will be breaking down this long list of FAQ’s into more manageable chunks of information. All this information can be found in its original context here.

Question: Can a small quantity generator (SQG) establish satellite accumulation areas according to 262.34(c) for their hazardous waste?

Answer: Yes. Both large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs) may take advantage of the reduced requirements while hazardous waste is in SAAs, provided it is managed in accordance with all the provisions of40 CFR 262.34(c). If an SQG or LQG accumulates more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) at an SAA, the excess must be removed within three days. If after that period, the excess is not removed, LQGs must comply with 262.34(a) and SQGs must comply with 262.34(d), with respect to the excess amounts.

Question: If a generator accumulates more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) at an SAA, when should the generator date the container(s)? When 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) is exceeded, or when the container is moved to the central accumulation area?

Answer: When 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) is exceeded in an SAA, the generator needs to date the container, so that the generator can move the excess to the 90 day or 180-day area within three days (262.34(c)(2)). Then when 3 days have passed, or when the container is moved to the central accumulation area, the generator needs to date the container again, so that it can be moved off-site within 90 or 180 days (262.34(a)(2) and 262.34(d)(4), respectively. (Of course, the container does not need to be dated after it is removed from the SAA if the excess waste is moved directly to a permitted or interim status unit). This means that an LQG has up to 93 days and a SQG has up to 183 days for on-site accumulation time once 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) has been exceeded at the SAA- up to three days in the SAA, followed by up to 90 or 180 days in the central accumulation area.

Question: When a generator accumulates more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) at an SAA, the excess of 55 gallons (or the excess of 1 quart of acute hazardous waste) needs to be removed from the SAA within three days. What is meant by “three days”?

Answer: Three days means three consecutive days. It does not mean three working days or three business days. Originally, the Agency had proposed to use 72 hours as the time limit but realized that determining when 72 hours had elapsed would have required placing both the date and time of day on containers. In the final rule the Agency switched to using three days so that generators only need to date containers that hold the excess of 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste).

Question: lf an SAA has a full 4-gallon container of hazardous waste, does the generator have to remove the container from the SAA within three days of being filled?

Answer: No. There is no federal  requirement that full containers of hazardous waste be removed from an SAA within three days of being filled. Only the excess of 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or the excess of 1 quart of acutely hazardous waste) must be removed within three days.

Information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.

Earlier this week we discussed the guidelines for closed containers in central accumulation areas (CAAs). If you’ll remember, the purpose of these guidelines is to prevent spills and minimize emissions from volatile wastes. Today we are going to talk about what guidelines exist for containers in satellite accumulation areas or SAAs. In particular, we will be covering the closed container guidelines for containers accumulating liquid hazardous wastes in SAAs. Containers containing solid and semi-solid wastes will be covered in a later post.

Unlike CAAs (where waste is often stored after the fact) SAAs are locations in a facility where waste is generated and accumulates in a container. 40 CFR 262.34(c)(1) and (c)(2) set forth the requirements for generators that accumulate hazardous waste in an SAA, including the requirement that the generator must accumulate the waste in a container that is “closed” except when adding or removing waste.

The situation that raises the most questions about closed containers is management of liquid hazardous wastes or free liquids. This includes items like spent organic solvents. These waste accumulations bring up the most questions because so many generators use liquid solvents in their production or manufacturing processes.

The three primary risks associated with liquid hazardous wastes accumulated in containers are risks from inhalation, risk of potential buildup of vapors in the container, and risk of an accidental spill of material. Since the purpose of the closed container guidelines is to minimize emissions and avoid spills, ignitions, or mixing of wastes it is imperative that generators have systems in place to keep containers closed and to prevent leaks or ruptures.

Generally, a container collecting liquid hazardous wastes in an SAA is “closed” when “all lids are properly and securely affixed to the container, except when wastes are actually being added to or removed from the container.” The reasoning behind making sure the lid is totally covering the container is to prevent any volatile emissions from being released and to prevent a spill in the chance case that a container is tipped over.

The EPA recognizes that the frequency with which materials may be added to or removed from a container makes securing lids with snap rings, securely capping bungholes, and/or fastening the lid on by other means inconvenient. That said it is still important that the container is covered tightly. They provide the following advice:

“We believe containers holding free liquids, or liquid hazardous waste, in the SAA would meet the regulatory definition of “closed” through a variety of approaches. For example, special funnels with manually or spring closed lids or other similar closing devices could be used for closed-head drums or closed-top drums (e.g., containers that have two bung holes with non-removable lids).

Similarly, funnels used to add or remove liquid hazardous wastes from these containers would be screwed tightly into the bunghole and fitted with a gasket, if necessary, to seal the funnel lid firmly closed. In some cases, the funnel lids for closed-head drums and closed­ top drums may be fitted with a locking mechanism. This keeps the lid in a closed position. All other openings on the drum lid should generally be properly closed or capped.

Another alternative is the use of a funnel with a one-way valve that allows hazardous waste to enter the container, but prohibits the waste or emissions from exiting the container… Liquid hazardous wastes also can be accumulated in open-head drums or open-top containers (e.g., where the entire lid is removable and typically secured with a ring and bolts or a snap ring) and meet the definition of “closed,” provided the rings are clamped or bolted to the container.

In some situations, the container could be considered closed if the lid covers the container top securely even though the rings are not clamped or bolted. Several states take this approach, and EPA believes it reflects a reasonable interpretation of the regulations.”

Quoted and cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Memorandum on Closed Containers. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.

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.