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Rulemaking - Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

On November 28, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (GIR) (link leaves DEC's website). This rule will not be in effect in New York until adopted by the State.

This rule reorganizes and restructures the hazardous waste regulations to make them more user-friendly for the regulated community. This new structure is intended to provide the regulated community with a clearer understanding of the RCRA hazardous waste generator program and to increase regulatory compliance. This rule also includes revisions that are intended to address existing gaps in the hazardous waste regulations, which strengthens protections for human health and the environment. The GIR also includes new provisions that provide more options for hazardous waste generators to manage their hazardous waste.

Definitions

  • Revises the definition of Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) and changes the name of this generator category to Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG).
  • Revises the definition of Small Quantity Generator (SQG).
  • Adopts a definition of Large quantity Generator (LQG).
  • Adopts a definition of Central Accumulation Area (CAA).

Benefits

The new structure of the regulations is more user-friendly and easier for the regulated community to use, which facilitates better compliance with the regulations.

  • This rule addresses regulatory gaps and provides greater flexibility for hazardous waste generators to manage their hazardous waste in a cost-effective and protective manner.
  • This rule enhances the safety of facilities, employees, and the general public by improving hazardous waste risk communication and ensures that emergency management requirements meet modern needs, including:
    • Requiring generators to indicate that hazards of the waste on containers, tanks, and containment buildings
    • Requiring large quantity generators (LQGs) to create and provide a Quick Reference Guide of their contingency plan to emergency responders to communicate pertinent facility information quickly in the event of an emergency.
  • This rule establishes a new provision for episodic hazardous waste generation. This provision allows hazardous waste generators to avoid increased burden of a higher generator status when generating episodic waste provided the episodic waste is properly managed.
  • This rule establishes a new provision that allows VSQG to send hazardous waste to an LQG that is under control of the same person.

Less Stringent Provisions

If adopted by the State:

  • LQGs may seek a waiver from the 50-foot setback requirement for ignitable or reactive hazardous waste.
  • VSQGs and SQGs may conduct episodic events, provided that certain conditions are met.
  • VSQGs may send hazardous waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) that is under control of the same person, provided that certain conditions are met.

More Stringent Provisions

  • SGQs and LQGs must indicate the hazards of the contents when marking or labeling containers and tanks of hazardous waste. (VSQGs must comply with this more stringent provision if they choose to utilize the provisions that allow a VSQG to send hazardous waste to an LQG that is under the control of the same person.)
  • SQGs must re-notify beginning in 2021 and every four years thereafter.
  • LQGs are required to notify when closing waste accumulation units or closing their facility. For closure of waste accumulation units, the LQG must place a notice in their operating record within 30 days of closure or meet applicable closure performance standards and notify EPA Region 2. For closure of the LQG's facility, the LQG must notify EPA Region 2 using Form 8700-12 at least 30 days prior to closure. The LQG must also notify EPA Region 2 using Form 8700-12 within 90 days of facility closure.
  • If an LQG cannot "clean close" their facility or an accumulation unit, the facility or accumulation unit will be considered to be a landfill. The LQG will be required to close their facility or accumulation unit and perform post-closure care in accordance with the closure and post-closure care requirements that apply to landfills.
  • Satellite accumulation areas at SQGs and LQGs must meet the preparedness and prevention requirements applicable to the generator.
  • LQGs must create and submit a quick reference guide of their contingency plan to the local emergency responders.
  • Transporters consolidating the contents of two or more containers of the same hazardous waste or two different hazardous wastes that are compatible into a new container must mark the containers of 119 gallons or less with the words "Hazardous Waste" and the applicable hazardous waste codes.
  • Receiving facilities that do not store prior to recycling are required file an annual report.

Waiver from the 50-Foot Setback Requirement for LQGs

Under current State regulations LQGs must store ignitable or reactive hazardous waste at least 50 feet (15 meters) away from the facility's property line. In some circumstances, especially in urban areas where facility property sizes can be small, it can be difficult or impossible for generators to comply with this requirement. The GIR includes a new provision which addresses the problems that the regulated community has encountered with this requirement while ensuring that fire safety concerns are properly considered.

The provision allows LQGs to accumulate ignitable and reactive wastes within 50 feet (15 meters) of their facility's property line so long as the generator meets certain conditions:

  • An LQG must receive written approval from the authority having jurisdiction over the local fire code that allows the facility to accumulate ignitable or reactive hazardous waste within 50 feet of the facility's property line.
  • A record of the written approval must be maintained for as long as the LQG operates under the waiver.
  • The LQG must take precautions to prevent accidental ignition or reaction of ignitable or reactive waste.
  • LQGs must confine smoking and open flame to specially designated locations and "No Smoking" signs must be conspicuously placed wherever there is a hazard from ignitable or reactive waste.

Episodic Generation

This rule includes a new provision which allows VSQGs and SQGs to maintain their existing generator category during episodic events, so long as the generator meet certain conditions.

Episodic events fall into two categories: planned episodic events and unplanned episodic events.

The number of episodic events that a generator can have in a calendar year is limited. A generator may conduct one planned episodic event or one unplanned episodic event per calendar year and may petition the department to conduct a second episodic event. If a generator chooses to petition the department for a second episodic event, the second episodic event cannot fall into the same category as the first episodic event.

For example, a generator who has already conducted a planned episodic event cannot petition the department for a second planned episodic event. However, a generator could petition the department for an unplanned episodic event, if they have already conducted a planned episodic event.

LQGs Consolidating VSQG Waste

This rule also includes a new provision which allows VSQGs to send their hazardous waste to LQGs that are under control of the same person. VSQGs must follow certain labeling requirements and LQGs must follow certain notification, recordkeeping, and labeling requirements in order to utilize this provision.

Request for Comment

DEC is interested in information, data, and comments about any issues or concerns with this rule. Please submit all information, data, or comments by:

Email: HWRegs@dec.ny.gov

or

Mail:
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
RCRA Compliance and Technical Support Section
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7256