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EPA Proposed Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

On September 25, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the proposed Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements rule in the Federal Register. The proposed rule is said to be aimed at offering revisions to the existing hazardous waste generator rules, initially enacted back in 1980. The EPA found it necessary to update the original hazardous waste generator requirements to provide additional clarification, consistency, and flexibility over the initial regulations, promulgated 35 years earlier. The EPA proposed revisions are aimed at achieving facility compliance and at the same time providing additional flexibility in the management of hazardous waste generation and eliminating important gaps in the current hazardous waste regulations.

Below are some of the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvement rule proposed modifications:

1.) Strengthen the requirements to classify waste streams as either hazardous or non-hazardous while maintaining records to support the classification of each waste stream.

2.) Biennial re-notification of hazardous waste generator status

3.) Incorporation of additional labeling requirements and hazard information into shipping procedures

4.) Allowing for a one-time annual exceedance in waste generation from an episodic event for small quantity generators (SQG) and conditionally-exempt small quantity generators (CESQG) without them being required to move into a higher hazardous waste generation category

5.) Allowing a CESQG to send hazardous waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) under the control of the same par- ent company. EPA has indicated that it believes this could result in reduced operating costs, reduced environmental liability, in- creased recycling, and reduced volumes of hazardous waste sent to landfills.

6.) Revision of container labeling practices, marking of tanks, drip pads, and containment buildings when accumulating hazardous wastes to convey information to any and all individuals that could potentially be exposed to the accumulat- ed wastes. Information would include the potential risk hazards the accumulated waste contents may pose to both human and environmental health.

7.) Clarification and revision of the preparedness, prevention, planning, emergency procedure and notification provi- sions for businesses classified as either an LQG or SQG.

The revised rules will ultimately impact hundreds of thousands of businesses nationwide including industrial, commer- cial, and retail establishments some of which may generate very small quantities of hazardous waste. EPA estimates indicate that the revised rules could potentially impact as many as 500,000 hazardous waste generators.

The EPA conducted an initial comment period on the proposed ruling, but in response to numerous requests for an extension beyond the initial comment period, the EPA published a notice in the November 5, 2015 issue of the Federal Register granting a 30-day extension to the initial comment period. The comment period for the proposed ruling ended on December 24, 2015. A final ruling on the proposed Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements rule is expected to occur sometime in the later part of 2016.

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