News Flash: Regulatory Options for Backlog of Containerized Hazardous Waste Needing Incineration
In early June 2021, the U.S. EPA became aware that some commercial hazardous waste incinerators were informing their customers (hazardous waste generators) that they would no longer accept containerized hazardous waste designated for incineration, because of backlogs at their facilities. This has presented a challenge for hazardous waste generators to stay in compliance with on-site accumulation time limits. Upon learning of the incinerator backlog, the U.S. EPA has outlined, in a Memorandum released August 10, 2021, the multiple existing options available to generators under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations:
1. Small Quantity Generator (SQG) Accumulation Time Extension: If an SQG needs to transport hazardous waste >200 miles, per the self-implementing provision found in §262.16(c), they can accumulate up to 270 days. No notification is required to follow this option. (Please note that the normal accumulation time limit is 180 days or less for SQG without a permit).
2. Accumulation Time Extension Request (SQG and LQG): SQGs and large quantity generators (LQGs) can request an extension to accumulation time limits (only good for an additional 30 days) if they meet the criteria in the regulations. States need to decide if consecutive extension requests are appropriate/allowable. Proof of the inability to find an incinerator may be requested from agency for multiple requests for any given facility. Additional on-site compliance activities may need to be undertaken by the generator if site-specific factors indicate that there is a potential for releases. (Please note, that the normal accumulation limit is 90 days or less for LQG).
3. Emergency Permits: Emergency permits may be issued by the U.S. EPA or state if there is an immediate and substantial endangerment to human health or the environment. The U.S. EPA does not believe this will be necessary for most generators.
The U.S. EPA expects the incinerator backlog to be limited in duration and scope and with information presently available, this may not be fully resolved until the end of the first quarter of 2022. The U.S. EPA regions and states authorized to implement the RCRA program are in the best position to make decisions about extensions and temporary authorizations based on site-specific circumstances. If you need additional support with your hazardous waste program, the APTIM team is here to help. Contact one of our regulatory and permitting experts today, and contact Dawn McLaughlin at Dawn.McLaughlin@aptim.com.
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