New Hazardous Waste Management Rules Are Coming Soon – Are You Ready?

Some of our drycleaning clients are in the process of, or already have transitioned away from perc solvent, but there are still plenty of functioning perc drycleaning machines currently in operation across the country.  Parts degreasers utilizing chlorinated solvents are also commonplace.  All spent chlorinated solvents have to be properly managed and disposed of in order to avoid unintentional releases to the environment.

Spent solvents are considered hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). Depending on the amount of solvents used and disposed of, the user is either classified as a Very Small Quantity Generator (“VSQG,” formerly CESQG), a Small Quantity Generator (“SQG,”) or a Large Quantity Generator (“LQG”). Most, but not all of our clients are either VSQGs or SQGs, the difference being that SQGs are required by law to report their activities and acquire a RCRA waste disposal number from their state regulatory agency.

Since its passage into law in 1980, RCRA has seen some changes; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and industry are constantly looking to fine-tune the process of safe disposal of hazardous waste while not overly burdening the industries that generate it as a by-product of their operations. EPA’s last rulemaking affecting the hazardous waste generator regulatory program was in 2004 and addressed many of the remaining rough edges.The most recent rulemaking, which goes into effect this fall (2016), further improves the process by building in flexibility for generators who properly dispose of their waste.

How do these new rules regarding Perc this affect our clients?

  1. The new rules allow a generator, who normally falls under VSQG/CESQG or SQG status, avoid categorization as a higher status generator during a month in which they generated episodic waste, so long as they properly dispose of said waste.
  2.  They allow VSQGs to send hazardous waste to an LQG that is under the control of the same person, allowing for satellite locations of larger facilities to consolidate and dispose of waste in a more efficient manner; and
  3.  They make it easier for generators located in urban environments who find it difficult to meet the requirement that containers holding ignitable or reactive waste be placed 15 meters (50 feet) from the site’s property line by allowing generators to apply for a waiver from this requirement from their local fire department or emergency response organization.

While RCRA is not the model of legislative clarity, these most recent proposed rules from EPA look to further simplify the requirements on industries that produce hazardous waste while maintaining protection of human health and the environment. If you have questions about compliance with these new rules, EnviroForensics has professionals trained in managing hazardous materials who are on hand to assist you.