Handling hazardous waste

April 1, 2000
Issue: The more waste you generate, the more rules you'll have to followIf you do maintenance on your trucks, chances are you're generating hazardous waste. Rules established under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) spell out exactly how to store, handle, transport, treat, and dispose of hazardous waste. Violations can mean fines as high as $11,000 a day.Examples of hazardous waste

Issue: The more waste you generate, the more rules you'll have to follow

If you do maintenance on your trucks, chances are you're generating hazardous waste. Rules established under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) spell out exactly how to store, handle, transport, treat, and dispose of hazardous waste. Violations can mean fines as high as $11,000 a day.

Examples of hazardous waste generated by maintenance shops include battery regeneration chemicals, solvents, scrap metal, waste paint, paint thinner, parts washing chemicals, and used antifreeze.

Used oil is not considered hazardous unless it's contaminated with a hazardous waste or specifically identified as such by state laws.

The amount of hazardous waste you generate determines which regulations you must follow. If you limit your hazardous waste to 220 lb. a month, you're considered a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG); more than 220 lb. but less than 2,200 lb. makes you a Small Quantity Generator (SQG). Anything more makes you a Large Quantity Generator.

CESQGs are spared many of the federal requirements for storing and labeling accumulated waste. But following sound environmental management principles will help ensure that you manage your hazardous waste safely and avoid future liability.

And while there aren't any labeling requirements for CESQGs under RCRA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that all containers be labeled.

If you fall into the CESQG category, you can store waste materials on-site for as long as you want, providing you don't accumulate more than 2,200 lb. Hazardous waste must be delivered to a licensed municipal or industrial solid waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF).

CESQGs are not required to keep waste-generation records or shipping manifests, unless they exceed the 220 lb. limit. At this point, you must notify EPA and follow SQG regulations during that month.

Keep in mind that some states don't recognize the CESQG category, making SQG the minimum compliance level.

Rules for the SQG level are more stringent. The waste can be stored in tanks or containers, provided they're not leaking, bulging, rusted, or constructed of incompatible materials. Containers must be labeled with the phrase "hazardous waste," specific contents, RCRA waste codes, accumulation start date, and EPA ID number. Storage areas should have secondary spill containment, an alarm, fire extinguisher, "no smoking" signs, and a means of communication in the event of a spill or other emergency.

SQGs are required to dispose of hazardous waste within 180 days. Wastes stored at satellite collection areas at or near the point of generation are not subject to the 180-day limit.

Satellite containers must be labeled with their contents, but don't need to be dated. Most states allow satellite generation of up to 55 gal. of one type of waste. Once this limit is reached, the waste must be moved to the storage area or building where it can be stored for up to 180 days.

Hazardous waste generated by an SQG must be sent to a permitted TSDF, accompanied by a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest signed by the generator and transporter.

The manifest should be kept until a signed copy is returned by the disposal facility. If you don't receive this within 60 days, you must file an exception report with EPA. You must keep manifests, reports of missing manifests, waste analyses, and test results for at least three years from shipment date.

Clearly, it's to your advantage to reduce the amount of hazardous waste you generate. For more information on hazardous waste management and pollution prevention, visit www.greentruck.com or download a free EPA publication at www.epa. gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/id/infocus/vehicle.pdf.

(Fern Abrams is the manager of environmental affairs at the American Trucking Assns. (ATA). For more information, contact the author or Allen Schaeffer, ATA vp-environmental policy, at 703-838-1786 or e-mail [email protected].)

About the Author

Fern Abrams

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