Posts

As we said in Tuesday’s post on the Rebuttable Presumption, the current used oil management standards can get confusing when it comes to mixing used oil with other things. We will be breaking used oil mixtures into four categories; used oil mixed with hazardous waste, used oil mixed with solid waste, used oil mixed with products, and other mixtures.

How do you manage used oil mixed with hazardous waste?

As with most any other type of waste, a used oil combined with a listed hazardous waste must be managed as a hazardous waste. If, however, a used oil is mixed with a characteristic hazardous waste, the rules are not quite as simple. The EPA cites two separate scenarios to help generators determine if a mixture must be handled as hazardous waste or if it can be handled as a used oil.

“The first scenario involves used oil that is mixed with a waste that is hazardous solely because it exhibits the characteristic of ignitability. If the resultant mixture is no longer ignitable, then the mixture can be managed as used oil, despite the inherent characteristics that the used oil may bring to the mixture… The second scenario involves used oil mixed with a waste that is hazardous because it exhibits one or more characteristic of hazardous waste (other than just ignitability). The resultant mixture must no longer exhibit any characteristics if it is going to be managed as used oil.”

The difference between the two scenarios is so important because used oil often displays a characteristic of hazardous waste from its normal use. The EPA provides the following example, “used oil that displays the toxicity characteristic for lead (D008) is mixed with an ignitable hazardous waste (D001). Section 279.10(b)(2)(iii) allows this mixture to remain under the umbrella of used oil regulation even if it fails the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) for lead (D008), as long as the mixture is no longer ignitable. On the other hand, if the D008 used oil had been mixed with a reactive waste (D003), then the resultant mixture would need to be void of both characteristics in order to be managed as used oil. Otherwise, the mixture would need to be managed as hazardous waste.”

How is used oil mixed with solid waste managed?

The regulations for used oil mixed with solid waste aren’t nearly as stringent. According to the EPA, any material that is contaminated with a used oil or that is contaminating a used oil is regulated as a used oil. After the contaminating oil has been appropriately removed/drained from the mixture to the best extent possible (no visible signs of free-flowing oil) remaining wastes can be classified as solid waste. Any oil separated from the solid waste must be disposed of as such. “The exception to this is that a solid waste from which free-flowing used oil has been removed is still subject to regulation as used oil if it is burned for energy recovery.”

How do you manage used oil mixed with products?

According to the EPA, “the blending of used oil generated in diesel-powered vehicles with diesel fuel is excluded from the processing and re-refining standards when the mixture is used in the generator’s own vehicles as a fuel. The mixture itself is also specifically excluded when used in this manner.”

What do you do with other mixtures?

The EPA states that “used oil that is considered to be a hazardous waste solely because it exhibits one or more characteristic of hazardous waste, because it has been mixed with hazardous waste subject to the special provisions of §261.5 for conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs), or because it has been mixed with household hazardous waste is subject to regulation as a used oil, not as a hazardous waste.”

Quoted and EPA cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “RCRA, Superfund & EPCRA Call Center Training Module: Used Oil”  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 week we wrote about the history of used oil regulations. In that post we discussed the steps that led up to the regulations the EPA has in place for used oils now. This week we’re going to dig deeper into the subject of used oil regulations and look at how mixtures are handled. Today we will cover the Rebuttable Presumption and how it applies to used oil management.

What is used oil?

Before we can look at mixtures containing used oil it is important that we all know what used oil is. According to the EPA, “used oil is defined as any oil that was refined from crude oil or any synthetic oil, and that is used and as a result of such use is contaminated by physical or chemical impurities.” The EPA also points out that the terms “used oil” and “waste oil” are not interchangeable since waste oil or oily waste does not always meet the definition of used oil; in particular the distinction that the oil has been “used.”

Regulations can get confusing when it comes to mixtures containing used oil, especially when the oil is mixed with a hazardous waste. In order to address this issue the EPA developed the Rebuttable Presumption.

What is the Rebuttable Presumption?

The Rebuttable Presumption came to be when the agency realized that determining if a used oil had been mixed with a hazardous waste would not always be possible. Since mixtures such as that would need to be regulated as a hazardous waste the EPA needed to develop an objective test. This is where the Rebuttable Presumption comes into play.

According to the EPA, “used oil that contains more than 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of total halogens is presumed to have been mixed with a regulated halogenated hazardous waste (i.e., spent halogenated solvents), and is therefore subject to applicable hazardous waste regulations.” The “rebuttal” occurs when a generator attempts to demonstrate, through analysis or other documentation, that no halogenated hazardous waste has been mixed with the used oil. One way to achieve this is by showing that the used oil “does not contain significant concentrations of halogenated hazardous constituents.” If the generator succeeds in the rebuttal the used oil will no longer be considered to have been mixed with a hazardous waste and will be subject to only used oil management standards.

“The Agency believes, however, that some oils can become contaminated with more than 1,000 ppm halogens just through the normal use of the oil, without actually mixing the used oil with a hazardous waste. In the present program, the Agency amended the former regulations to exempt two specific types of used oil from the rebuttable presumption. Both metalworking oils containing chlorinated paraffins and used refrigeration compressor oils containing chlorinated fluorocarbons (CFCs) are exempt from the rebuttable presumption.” This means that if a person generates one of these types of used oil, that person does not have to prove that the oil has not been mixed with a hazardous waste, even though it may contain more than 1,000 ppm total halogens.

Be sure to keep checking our blog for the post on used oil mixtures with hazardous waste, solid waste, products, and other mixtures.

Quoted and EPA cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “RCRA, Superfund & EPCRA Call Center Training Module: Used Oil” 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.

The current used oil regulations were finalized in September of 1992. Prior to that, they went through a few different iterations. At the inception of RCRA §3014 required that the EPA make a decision on whether or not to list used oil as a regulated hazardous waste. Additionally, the EPA needed to establish standards for used oil recycling.

According to the EPA, “on November 29, 1985, EPA issued a proposed rule to list all used oil as hazardous waste, including petroleum-derived and synthetic oils. On the same day, management standards were proposed for recycled used oil and final regulations were issued prohibiting burning off-specification used oil in nonindustrial boilers and furnaces. By November 19, 1986, EPA decided not to list used oil, primarily because of the possibility that characterizing used oil as a hazardous waste might discourage or hinder recycling practices.”

In 1988, a court decision made the EPA reconsider the decision not to list used oil as a hazardous waste. The court ruled that a decision needed to be made based on, “the technical criteria for listing waste specified in the statute, rather than the effects listing might have on the competing goal of recycling.” This court ruling lead to a supplemental proposed rule being published in September of 1991. This rule proposed three different options for regulating used oil. These options included:

  • Identifying all used oils as hazardous waste under RCRA,
  • Designating only certain used oils (mainly nonindustrial) as hazardous, or
  • Creating basic management standards for used oil and only categorizing it as hazardous waste when disposed of.

According to the EPA, “prior to making a final selection of one of the three approaches to recycled used oil regulation, the final rule of May 20, 1992, stated that used oil destined for disposal would not be listed as a hazardous waste.” The EPA justified that since most used oil has the “potential to be recycled, either through re-refining or burning for energy recovery,” and since waste destined for disposal is protected by the existing network of regulations, the listing decision could be deferred.

As we said above, the final rule was published in September of 1992. This ruling created both a final listing decision for recycled used oil and management standards for used oil. According to the EPA, “the Agency decided not to list recycled used oils because the management standards issued in this rulemaking would adequately protect human health and the environment.”

These standards affect generators, transporters, burners, marketers, processors, and re-refiners of used oil. The program is built upon the idea that most used oil will be recycled as opposed to being disposed of. Because the former program didn’t assume as much it had variable requirements for used oil management. The current system means that virtually all used oil will be subject to the same standards. Additionally, current regulations expanded the requirements that used oil handlers must fulfill.

So, does your company have used oil as a byproduct of your business? How do you manage and dispose of it properly?

Quoted and EPA cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “RCRA, Superfund & EPCRA Call Center Training Module: Used Oil”  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.

A few years ago my sister got a birthday card for my dad that said “For your birthday I checked the oil in my car!” on the front (it’s funny because he used to harass us about this all the time, trust me, it’s hilarious). Then when you opened it, it said, “still black and yucky.” (See what I mean about the hilarity? Great card). To this day my father still likes to remind us that the oil in our cars should never be black but I digress.

As I finished that last paragraph it dawned on me that I never came up with a concrete way to segue this into a post about used oil management. I think I just remembered an anecdote that mentioned oil and thought I could go with it. Let’s pretend that I came up with a brilliant tie in and just keep moving along, shall we?

So used oil… used oil is any oil that has been refined from crude oil, or any synthetic oil that has been used and, as a result of that use, is contaminated by physical or chemical impurities. Used oil can further be broken down into four categories; lubricants, hydraulic fluid, metalworking fluid, and insulating fluid or coolant. Used oil does not include any of the following:

  • Oil or petroleum-based products
  • Virgin oils
  • Used oil residues or sludges resulting from the storage, processing, or re-refining of used oils
  • Used oil that fails the rebuttal
  • Listed oily hazardous waste

Regulation of used oil is dependent upon whether or not it will be recycled. Used oil destined for recycling is not regulated as hazardous waste. Used oil destined for disposal, however, is subject to hazardous waste determination and management. And used oil management is a whole new topic.

What are some specifications of used oil management?

Hazardous waste and contaminated used oil cannot be burned in non-industrial boilers. Additionally, quality specifications are established for used oil and if a used oil cannot meet these set specifications, it is subject to administrative controls and cannot be burned in non-industrial boilers.

Used oil that contains more than 1,000 PPM of total halogens (TX) is automatically presumed to have been mixed with spent solvents. Since EPA and used oil handlers sometimes found it difficult to determine if used oil had been mixed with a listed hazardous waste the EPA decided to use an objective test that focused on the halogen level in used oil. This objective test is known as the rebuttable presumption. The “rebuttable presumption” makes used oil a listed hazardous waste (F001/F002) unless it can be proven otherwise. Rebutting the F001/F002 listing presumption could include any or all of the following items:

  • MSDS indicating the presence of halogenated additives in virgin oil
  • Toxic organic management plan and other evidence of proper and adequate segregation practices
  • Demonstration that halogenated solvents came from non-listed sources
  • GC / MS analysis indicating <100 PPM of each individual F001/F002 constituent

Used Oil

Re the chart above, under PCB regulations used oils containing PCBs between 1-50 ppm (prior to dilution) are considered off-specification. Unanalyzed used oils are considered to be off-specifications for PCBs. (40 CFR 761.2(e)(1) & (2) and 40 CFR 279.10(i))

There are also some prohibitions set forth concerning used oil. For example, used oil cannot be managed in unpermitted surface impounds or waste piles, it cannot be used as a dust suppressant, it cannot be burned off in non-specified devices, and it cannot be mixed with hazardous waste. Generators must make sure to comply with all rules associated with used oil management in order to maintain RCRA compliance.

And as always, remember that this blog post is not intended to be a full list of regulations. It is vital that you always check with local and state governments and 40 CFR for the most up-to-date information.