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Today’s post is going to be a quick one. A few posts ago we provided some basics of LDR (Land Disposal Restrictions) which we hope you found helpful!  But if you’re still looking for more information you are in the right place. Today we’re going to give you eight simple actions to take to help make sure you are compliant with LDR rules. So without further ado…

1. Determine, at the point of generation, all applicable codes, the category (WW or non-WW), and the subcategory (if any) for each restricted waste.

2. Determine which treatment standard(s) apply to each restricted waste.

3. Identify underlying hazardous constituents (where required).

4. Determine, through specified analytical techniques or knowledge of the waste, whether the treatment standard has been achieved.

5. Comply with time limitations.

6. Comply with prohibitions on evaporation and dilution.

7. Prepare notifications and/or certifications required for onsite or offsite waste management.

8. Comply with recordkeeping requirements to maintain all LDR documentation.

While this is in no way an all-inclusive list of instructions, following these suggestions will put you on a good start to maintaining Land Disposal Restriction compliance. Just make sure to always check with local and state rules as well as 40 CFR for the most up-to-date information.

A recent article posted by the Environmental Resource Center raised an interesting question; can you treat waste without a permit? Surprisingly enough, in some cases, you can. 40 CFR 270.1(c) states that hazardous wastes listed in 40 CFR 261 require a permit for treatment, storage, and disposal. In 40 CFR 270.1(c)(2), however, you can find a list of exclusions from the requirement to have a RCRA permit. These exclusions include the following generator types and instances:

  • “Generators who accumulate hazardous waste on-site for less than the time periods provided in 40 CFR 262.34.
  • Farmers who dispose of hazardous waste pesticides from their own use as provided in §262.70 of this chapter;
  • Persons who own or operate facilities solely for the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste excluded from regulations under this part by 40 CFR 261.4 or 261.5 (small generator exemption).
  • Owners or operators of totally enclosed treatment facilities as defined in 40 CFR 260.10.
  • Owners and operators of elementary neutralization units or wastewater treatment units as defined in 40 CFR 260.10.
  • Transporters storing manifested shipments of hazardous waste in containers meeting the requirements of 40 CFR 262.30 at a transfer facility for a period of ten days or less.
  • Persons adding absorbent material to waste in a container…and persons adding waste to absorbent material in a container, provided that these actions occur at the time waste is first placed in the container; and
  • Universal waste handlers and universal waste transporters managing batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and/or lamps. “ [1]

According to the ERC, “40 CFR 262.34 requirements include the 90-day and 180-day accumulation regulations for large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs), meaning that as long as a generator complies with the requirements of 40 CFR 262.34, they do not need a RCRA permit.”

The Environmental Resource Center also points out that, “most of the treatment technologies identified at 40 CFR 268.42 do not require a permit—with the technologies that do require a RCRA permit usually involving combustion.” Additionally, they provide a list of some of the treatment types that generators in compliance with 40 CFR 262.34 are able to perform without a permit. These include, among others, the following:

  • DEACT – “Deactivation to remove the hazardous characteristics of a waste due to its ignitability, corrosivity, and/or reactivity.”
  • MACRO – “Macroencapsulation with surface coating materials such as polymeric organics (e.g., resins and plastics) or with a jacket of inert inorganic materials to substantially reduce surface exposure to potential leaching media. Macroencapsulation specifically does not include any material that would be classified as a tank or container according to 40 CFR 260.10.”
  • NEUTR – “Neutralization with the following reagents (or waste reagents) or combinations of reagents: (1) Acids; (2) bases; or (3) water (including wastewaters) resulting in a pH greater than 2 but less than 12.5 as measured in the aqueous residuals.”
  • POLYM – “Formation of complex high-molecular weight solids through polymerization of monomers in high-TOC D001 non-wastewaters which are chemical components in the manufacture of plastics.”
  • STABL – “Stabilization with the following reagents (or waste reagents) or combinations of reagents: (1) Portland cement; or (2) lime/pozzolans (e.g., fly ash and cement kiln dust)—this does not preclude the addition of reagents (e.g., iron salts, silicates, and clays) designed to enhance the set/cure time and/or compressive strength, or to overall reduce the leachability of the metal or inorganic.” [2]

It is important to note that the exemptions listed apply only in states that allow for them. 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.

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.”[1]  They are working to do this in a few different ways. Firstly, the EPA has a list of 31 “priority chemicals” that they are working to reduce. They are doing this by identifying where these chemicals are found in “our nation’s products and wastes [and] finding ways to eliminate or substantially reduce their use in production. If these chemicals cannot easily be eliminated or reduced at the source, [they] focus on recovering or recycling them.”[2]

In addition to working to eliminate the priority chemicals, the EPA has four major tools and projects they are supporting that help with waste minimization. These four main tools are lean manufacturing, energy recovery, environmental management systems (EMS), and green chemistry. Each of these is explained in more detail below.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

According to the EPA, “Lean manufacturing is a business model and collection of tactical methods that emphasize eliminating non-value added activities (waste) while delivering quality products on time at least cost with greater efficiency.” Engaging in lean manufacturing allows companies to “create a culture of continuous improvement, employee empowerment, and waste minimization.” What this means is that companies who support and implement lean manufacturing initiatives see benefits outside of the scope you might expect. [3]

What is Energy Recovery?

Energy recovery is done through a process called gasification. According to the EPA, “gasification converts carbon-containing materials, under high temperature and pressure, into synthesis gas… or syngas… Syngas can be used as a fuel to generate electricity or as a basic chemical building block for use in the petrochemical and refining industries. Syngas generally has a heating value that is approximately two-thirds that of natural gas and, when burned as fuel, produces emissions that are similar to natural gas. In the petroleum refining industry alone, about seven to ten million tons of hazardous byproducts containing carbon, currently managed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), could be converted into useable fuel or chemicals using gasification methods.” [4]

What are Environmental Management Systems?

The EPA defines Environmental Management Systems (EMS) as “a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to systematically assess and manage its environmental “footprint” – the environmental impact associated with its activities, products, and services.” Environmental management systems are variable in scope and practice but all have rather similar goals; to improve environmental performance by providing a company with the tools they need to manage their environmental activities and impacts in the most beneficial and cost effective manner.

The EPA lists several benefits of EMS including:

  • Helping to comply with regulatory responsibilities and providing a way to address non-regulated environmental aspects like energy use and the conservation of resources;
  • Facilitating the assessment of risks and liabilities;
  • Increasing operating efficiency by creating standard operating procedures;
  • Increasing the environmental awareness of employees;
  • Potential for environmental and financial benefits; and
  • Providing a competitive edge over competitors not using EMS. [5]

What is Green Chemistry?

The final of the four primary tools being used by the EPA for waste minimization is green chemistry. The EPA defines green chemistry as, “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances.” Green chemistry prevents pollution at the molecular level and applies to all areas of chemistry. The result is “source reduction” because it actually prevents the generation of pollution. It also “reduces the negative impacts of chemical products and processes on human health and the environment, lessens and sometimes eliminates hazard from existing products and processes, [and] designs chemical products and processes to reduce their intrinsic hazards.” [6] We will talk more about Green Chemistry in a future post.

Today we are going to walk through some of the basics of Land Disposal Restriction rules.

The regulatory citations at 40 CFR § 268 controls the disposal of any waste that is placed on the land. This includes underground injection, waste piles, surface impoundments, and landfills. These regulations impact all hazardous waste through wither administrative or technical requirements.

The basis for LDR is to protect the ground water. This is achieved by the rules in 40 CFR which established concentration based standards for land disposal in addition to management/engineering controls.

There are four types of treatment standards:

  • Total waste standards (totals analysis)
  • Waste extract standards (TCLP Analysis); or
  • Specified technology standards (specify a treatment technology by five letter code rather than constituent concentration)
  • Alternative treatment standards

Concentration-based universal treatment standards (UTS) specify a single numerical treatment standard for each organic, metal, and cyanide constituent, regardless of the type of waste, that must be met prior to land disposal.

Treatment standards are based on best demonstrated available technology (BDAT). That means that the treatment standards are not health or risk-based, they are dependent upon the best available technology. It is also important to note that LDR treatment standards attach at the point of initial generation.

The “point of generation” is the point at which the waste is first generated, not the point at which it exits a management system. For characteristic wastes, each “change of treatability group” can mark a new point of generation for making an LDR determination (e.g. separation of solids in wastewater treatment).

All this said, there are some general exclusions to the LDR regulations including:

  • Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs) – these will generate 100 kilograms or less per month of hazardous waste, or 1 kilogram or less per month of acutely hazardous waste.
  • Waste pesticides and residues that farmers dispose of on their own property.
  • Selected low volume de minimus losses and laboratory wastes discharged to land based wastewater treatment facilities.

As always, remember 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.

Hazardous waste containers and storage areas are designed with specific intent. The container is for holding the waste and the storage area is to prevent escape of release from a container. The regulations intend to ensure that wastes are,

  • Compatible with construction of the container,
  • Compatible with other waste placed in the container,
  • Stored in a containment area designed to prevent releases from the containers from reaching the environment.

One of the first things to make sure of is that your containers are in good condition. Containers that are deteriorating or leaking must not be used and waste must be removed or transferred from the defective containers.

After making sure your containers are in good shape, you must make sure that the container type is compatible with the type of waste held within. The term incompatible waste refers to a hazardous waste which is unsuitable for placement in a container because it may cause damage to the container or inner liner; or when mixed with other waste in the container under uncontrolled conditions might produce:

  • Heat or pressure,
  • Fire or explosion,
  • Violent reaction, or
  • Toxic dusts.

Containers used to store hazardous waste must be made of or lined with materials that will not react with the waste and are otherwise compatible with the waste. Incompatible waste must not be placed in the same container. This includes unwashed containers that previously held an incompatible waste or material.

It is not just in containers that you must think of compatibility, though. Incompatible wastes are to be kept separate from each other in storage. Incompatibles must be kept separate by dike, berm, wall, and separated by sufficient distance. It helps to remember the 2 row minimum rule.  Incompatible materials must be 2 rows apart, separated by a row compatible to both.

Compatibility is so important because accidentally mixing incompatible wastes can have very dangerous ramifications. Always be sure to check and double check that you are not inadvertently mixing incompatible wastes. And remember, this information may not be all-inclusive and it is always best to check 40 CFR and your state regulations for the most up-to-date information. Keep reading our blog for more information about containerized wastes.

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?

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.

Have you heard the term “universal wastes?” I’ll admit, the first time I did I didn’t know what it meant. For me, the word “universal” really made it seem like it could be anything. Luckily for all of us, I have since learned what it really means.

The EPA has designated four specific wastes that are known as “universal wastes.” These are batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment (like old thermometers), and lamp bulbs.

Both the EPA website and 40 CFR detail the universal waste definitions of each of these waste types. Additionally, they provide regulations that generators of these wastes must adhere to. For reference, these are the EPA definitions of each of these waste types:

  • Batteries – “Battery means a device consisting of one or more electrically connected electrochemical cells which is designed to receive, store, and deliver electric energy. An electrochemical cell is a system consisting of an anode, cathode, and an electrolyte, plus such connections (electrical and mechanical) as may be needed to allow the cell to deliver or receive electrical energy. The term battery also includes an intact, unbroken battery from which the electrolyte has been removed.” [1]
  • Pesticides – “Pesticide means any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, or intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant…” [2] There are some exceptions which can be seen in detail on the EPA website here.
  • Mercury-containing Equipment – “Mercury-containing equipment means a device or part of a device (including thermostats, but excluding batteries and lamps) that contains elemental mercury integral to its function.” [3]
  • Lamp Bulbs – “fluorescent light bulbs and other mercury-containing bulbs…” [4]

As mentioned above, each of these waste types has specific federal regulations associated with it (and possible individual state regulations). The links back to the EPA site will take you to more information about the regulations set out in 40 CFR.

Additionally, a good place to start out with your company is to ensure that all employees are properly trained in universal waste handling regulations and that there is a clear understanding of the different regulations. Doing this will help your company avoid potentially dangerous and costly universal waste violations.

The other day as I was brainstorming ideas to write about for the blog something occurred to me. Hazardous waste is a very broad concept. I realized that outside of a company that deals with theses items on a daily basis, there may be confusion about what even qualifies as hazardous. This being said, I decided to talk about what, exactly, hazardous waste is.

The EPA defines hazardous waste as, “waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment.” They further break down these wastes into four categories:

– Listed Wastes: These are wastes that EPA has determined to be hazardous. These listed wastes include F-list, K-list, and P-and U-Lists.

– Characteristic Wastes: These are wastes that do not fit into any of the above listings but that exhibit ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.

– Universal Wastes: This includes things like batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment (e.g., thermostats, old fashioned thermometers, etc.) and fluorescent lamps.

– Mixed Wastes: These are wastes that contain both radioactive and hazardous waste components.

For all of these wastes it is vital to dispose of them in a manner that will not harm the environment. Luckily, current available technologies are able to remove toxicity and/or hazard from many of these items making them safe for reuse or disposal.