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In the United States, hazardous wastes are subject to regulations mandated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Every month, we provide clear, in-depth guidance on a different aspect of the RCRA regulations. The information presented here is an excerpt from McCoy’s RCRA Unraveled, 2019 Edition.

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Analysis-Based Hazardous Waste Determinations

To determine if a solid waste is a listed hazardous waste, you must know the source of the waste and/or the process that produced it. Thus, making a listed waste determination is primarily accomplished using knowledge. Determining if a solid waste exhibits a characteristic, however, can be accomplished using testing or knowledge. This article discusses characteristic hazardous waste determinations based on analytical testing. Alternatively, making a knowledge-based determination for both listed and characteristic wastes will be discussed in a future article.

Although the agency allows generators the option of using knowledge to make these assessments, “[m]eeting [hazardous waste determination] requirements by performing waste sampling and laboratory testing typically is more accurate and defensible than other options.” [Waste Analysis at Facilities that Generate, Treat, Store, and Dispose of Hazardous Wastes, EPA/530/R-12/001, April 2015, available at]

One caution before we get into some analytical details: Just because you determine through analysis that Part 261, Appendix VIII constituents are present in a waste does not mean you should assume the waste is hazardous. Although this appendix is entitled “Hazardous Constituents,” generators are not supposed to use Appendix VIII or §261.11 to identify hazardous wastes. Rather, EPA lists solid wastes with significant concentrations of Appendix VIII constituents as hazardous if the agency determines (per the §261.11 criteria) that the wastes pose a potential and substantial threat to human health and the environment. The presence of one or more of these hazardous constituents within a waste does not by itself determine that the waste is hazardous. [RO 11144, 12014, 12296, 13290]

For example, soil or ground water that is found through analysis to be contaminated with one of the Appendix VIII constituents (e.g., toluene) is not automatically a hazardous waste. Only if you can determine using knowledge the source of the constituent (e.g., from a spill of pure toluene or spent solvent toluene) can you correctly assign a listed hazardous waste code. Otherwise, the soil or ground water will be hazardous only if it exhibits a characteristic. [RO 11051, 12171, 12392, 14291]

Before discussing the specifics of making an analysis-based determination for the characteristics, we want to briefly discuss some general analytical issues.

General analytical considerations

Dating back to the beginning of the regulatory program in 1980, EPA has been fairly prescriptive in specifying test methods to show compliance with RCRA. Most of the methods codified within the RCRA regulations are EPA methods contained in the agency’s methods compendium, entitled Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods, more commonly known as SW–846.


SW–846 is accessible online at The first time you look at the compendium, you may find that it appears to be a huge compilation of test methods, with no apparent logic as to when a specific method should be used to analyze for a specific constituent (called an analyte). There are generally several alternative test methods for the same class of analytes, any of which could be selected to measure target constituents in the context of a particular RCRA compliance situation. SW–846 is designed to address all testing a facility might need to conduct to comply with RCRA, but a method may be indicated as being approved for determination of analytes that might not need to be evaluated in a particular situation.

An SW–846 user selects the list of target analytes based on the regulatory purposes for which the analysis is being performed. [RO 13274] For example, if the reason for testing is to determine if the waste exhibits the toxicity characteristic, then the facility needs to analyze the Method 1311 extract only for the 40 chemicals listed in Table 1 in §261.24.

The variety of waste matrices encountered in the RCRA waste management and cleanup programs is too diverse to expect prescriptive, one-size-fits-all sampling and analytical methods to work in all situations. Therefore, the RCRA regs include references to only 27 SW–846 test methods that are required to be used in specific applications. “In other situations, SW–846 functions as a guidance document setting forth acceptable, although not required, methods to be implemented by the user, as appropriate, in responding to RCRA-related sampling and analysis requirements.” [July 25, 1995; 60 FR 37975] EPA allows the use of non-SW–846 methods, provided the method meets acceptable quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) standards for the particular application. “If you can demonstrate that your method of sampling and data interpretation is scientifically and statistically correct, then you may use that procedure in place of a SW–846 method.” [RO 13557] EPA reiterated this in a formal policy statement, which can be found at the end of the table of contents in SW–846. Guidance for acceptable QA/QC standards are contained in Chapter One of SW–846. [August 31, 1993; 58 FR 46044, June 13, 1997; 62 FR 32457]

Methods in SW–846 do not need to be implemented exactly as written, and performance data presented in these methods should not be used as regulatory default or absolute QC requirements. [June 13, 1997; 62 FR 32457, RO 13707] “The agency wishes to stress that flexibility in the use of equipment, glassware, and procedures is allowed pursuant to the SW–846 Disclaimer and Sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 of Chapter Two.” [January 13, 1995; 60 FR 3091]

If an SW–846 method cannot “get the right answer” due to analytical difficulties with the matrix or some other reason, modification of the method or selection of a different method is required. “Having run a method ‘as written’ is no excuse for reporting faulty data…. Especially when unusual or complex matrices are involved, SW–846 methods must still undergo a ‘demonstration of applicability’ to establish adequate analytical performance in the context of that application.” [The Relationship Between SW–846, PBMS, and Innovative Analytical Technologies, EPA/542/R-01/015, October 2001, available online at]

The June 13, 1997 Federal Register explained that non-SW–846 equipment or procedures may be used “provided that method performance appropriate for the intended RCRA application is documented. Such performance includes consideration of precision, accuracy (or bias), recovery, representativeness, comparability, and sensitivity (detection, quantification, or reporting limits) relative to the data quality objectives for the intended use of the analytical results.” [62 FR 32457]

Some waste matrices are considered difficult to analyze when certain RCRA analytical methods are used (e.g., analysis of total cyanides in electroplating wastes that have been treated with polysulfides). RO 14317 gives EPA’s position on the use of analytical methods when low percentages of target analytes are recovered: “Inadequate recovery of target analytes from the RCRA-regulated waste matrices of concern demonstrates that the analytical conditions selected are inappropriate for the intended application.” This guidance cites acceptable recoveries of: 1) 70% or greater for organics extracted from standard matrices (e.g., ground water, aqueous leachate, soil); 2) 50% or greater for organics extracted from difficult matrices (e.g., sludge, ash, stabilized waste); 3) 80% or greater for volatile organics; and 4) 80%–120% for inorganic analytes in most matrices.

Performance-based measurement

The agency is moving away from the use of prescriptive testing to a performance-based measurement system (PBMS). A PBMS approach conveys what needs to be accomplished, but not specifically how to do it. The use of PBMS for RCRA was announced on May 8, 1998 [63 FR 25430], proposed on October 30, 2002 [67 FR 66252], and finalized on June 14, 2005. [70 FR 34538]

Performance-based monitoring objectives include [67 FR 66256, 70 FR 34540, EPA/542/R-01/015, RO 14590]:

  • Allowing more flexibility in method choice for RCRA-required testing,
  • Stimulating the development of innovative and/or more cost-effective analytical techniques,
  • Focusing on measurement objectives rather than on specific measurement techniques (e.g., allowing the use of less expensive semiquantitative results in lieu of rigorous quantitative data), and
  • Promoting more timely releases of new SW–846 methods by decoupling the methods from their specified use in the RCRA regs.

Using a PBMS methodology, any analytical method (whether or not it currently is published in SW–846) may be used to generate data as long as it can be demonstrated to measure:

  • The constituent of concern,
  • In the waste matrix of concern,
  • At the concentration level of concern, and
  • At the degree of accuracy required for the site-specific application. [EPA/542/R-01/015]

In a July 22, 2009 Federal Register preamble, EPA identified four steps needed to ensure continued progress towards a PBMS approach [74 FR 36198]:

  1. Emphasizing flexibility in choosing sampling/analytical approaches to meet measurement-based regulatory requirements,
  2. Developing method validation processes that confirm quality requirements (e.g., accuracy) are achieved,
  3. Increasing stakeholder collaboration/participation in development of these validation processes, and
  4. Providing timely agency assessment/review of new or modified measurement technologies and procedures that are alternatives to traditional analytical methods.

Method-defined parameters

Under the June 14, 2005 rule, an SW–846 method is required only in those situations where it is the only method capable of measuring the property (i.e., a method-defined parameter). In other words, a method-defined parameter is a RCRA regulatory parameter (i.e., a property or characteristic) that is defined by the outcome of a specific test method. When testing for these parameters, the method must be followed exactly as written.

A total of 27 method-defined parameters remain in the RCRA regs. [70 FR 34547] For example, SW–846 methods continue to be required for determining compliance with 1) the corrosivity characteristic [Methods 9040C and 1110A], 2) the toxicity characteristic (Method 1311—the TCLP), and 3) the ban on free liquids in wastes to be landfilled (Method 9095B—the paint filter test).

If the method is not performed exactly as written (e.g., if a different leaching solution or leaching time period is used when conducting the TCLP), the result for the measured parameter cannot be used to interpret compliance with the corresponding regulation. [EPA/542/R-01/015]

Analyzing for characteristics

According to January 13, 1995, July 25, 1995, and June 14, 2005 preamble language [60 FR 3089, 60 FR 37975, and 70 FR 34550, respectively], only the methods specified in §261.22 for the corrosivity characteristic (Methods 9040C and 1110A) and in §261.24 for the toxicity characteristic (Method 1311—the TCLP) are required.

Making an analysis-based determination of whether a solid waste exhibits a characteristic is based on testing a “representative sample” of the solid waste. [§§261.20–24] Procedures for obtaining representative samples will be discussed in a future article. Tips for determining whether a solid waste exhibits a characteristic based on analysis follow.


Solid wastes that are liquids with a flash point <140°F are D001 ignitable wastes under §261.21(a)(1). If testing is used to determine whether a solid waste is ignitable, the flash point can be determined using one of two ASTM methods standardized into SW–846 [the Pensky-Martens closed-cup tester (Method 1010A) or the Setaflash closed-cup tester (Method 1020B)]. The choice of the method should be based on the waste being tested. [RO 11594] For example, the Setaflash method is applicable only to liquids with viscosities below 150 stokes at 25°C. The Pensky-Martens test can be used for liquids that contain nonfilterable, suspended solids, while the Setaflash method should not be used for such wastes.

When testing is used to determine the flash point of a waste, a closed-cup tester should be used. Note that flash point can also be obtained through open-cup testing, but those results are only valid if the measured flash point is <140°F (i.e., if the waste is determined to be hazardous). “Ordinarily, open-cup tests…will produce higher flash points than the closed-cup tests required by EPA.” [RO 12296]

Some confusion has arisen over using one of the two approved flash point tests for wastes that are essentially all solids (e.g., solvent-contaminated rags or gasoline-contaminated soil) or for semisolid wastes containing both a liquid and solid phase. According to EPA, “[n]either test, however, is approved by ASTM for use in evaluating the flash point of solids or sludges.” [OSWER Directive 9443.00-1A] “If your samples contain filterable solids, they are not amenable to the Pensky-Martens flash point test. Flash point testing is only appropriate for liquid samples. It should not be applied to solids.” [RO 13759] See also RO 12909, 13550, and 14669.

Based on this guidance, wastes that are semisolids (e.g., sludges) or essentially all solids should be evaluated using either the Method 9095B paint filter test or the Method 1311 pressure filtration test to determine free liquid. If no free liquid is produced by either test, the waste is not a liquid and will not be D001 via the §261.21(a)(1) criteria. [RO 11619, 11787, 13328] However, the waste may still be an ignitable solid or DOT oxidizer, which are also D001 hazardous wastes; see §261.21(a)(2) and (4), respectively. If the paint filter test produces a free-liquid phase from wastes that are semisolid or mostly solid, EPA’s guidance is that you should test each phase separately: the liquid by flash point testing and the solids by Method 1030. [RO 13759]


Aqueous wastes with a pH <2.0 or >12.5 as measured by a pH meter using Method 9040C are D002 characteristic hazardous wastes. [§261.22(a)(1)] If the pH of the waste is above 12.0, pH measurement for the corrosivity characteristic must be taken when the sample is at 25±1°C. Measurement of pH for wastes with pH levels less than 12.0 may be made at other sample temperatures. [April 4, 1995; 60 FR 17003]

Liquids that corrode carbon steel at >0.25 inches per year are also corrosive hazardous wastes. [§261.22(a)(2)] The National Association of Corrosion Engineers Standard TM–01–69 must be used to measure the corrosion rate. This method has been standardized in SW–846 as Method 1110A, and EPA requires generators to use this standardized version when running this test. [June 14, 2005; 70 FR 34549]

Method 9045 in SW–846 can be run to determine the pH of solids. The test is applicable to solids (e.g., soil), sludges, or nonaqueous liquids that contain <20% water by volume. Basically, water is added to the solids or soil, and the pH of the resulting solution is measured. Although this test is available to generators, EPA has clarified that “Method 9045 is not [to be] used for corrosivity characteristic determinations.” [April 4, 1995; 60 FR 17003] That is EPA’s position at the federal level; thus, materials that are normally considered to be corrosive, such as lye or solid acids, are not D002 when they become wastes. [RO 13533] However, some states have chosen to have a more stringent corrosivity definition and require use of this test for potentially corrosive solids.


The regulatory language defining the reactivity characteristic in §261.23(a) does not specify any test methods for determining if a waste exhibits this characteristic. The agency has found no appropriate test methods for this purpose, noting that existing methods: 1) are not general enough to measure the various reactivity criteria, 2) do not take enough factors (e.g., mass, surface area) into account to reflect the reactivity of the whole waste (as opposed to the reactivity of the sample itself), and 3) require subjective interpretation of the results instead of providing pass/fail results. [May 19, 1980; 45 FR 33110]

Previous agency guidance indicating that solid wastes releasing more than 250 mg of hydrogen cyanide gas/kg of waste or more than 500 mg of hydrogen sulfide gas/kg of waste should be regulated as reactive hazardous wastes has been rescinded. EPA has withdrawn the guidance, and the test methods for determining the amount of gases released, from Chapter 7 of SW–846. EPA discovered that “critical errors” were made in developing these release thresholds and test methods. Therefore, the agency no longer supports the use of these thresholds for making reactive waste determinations. [June 14, 2005; 70 FR 34548, RO 14177] However, you need to check to see if your state RCRA program still requires use of these release thresholds and test methods to determine reactivity of cyanide- and sulfide-bearing wastes.


As noted above, the toxicity characteristic is a method-defined parameter, and the method that must be used to determine toxicity is the TCLP (Method 1311 in SW–846). When testing for toxicity, once the TCLP is run, the extract obtained is analyzed for the 40 constituents listed in §261.24. The agency noted that the following EPA test methods could be used in this step [EPA/530/R-12/001]:

  • Methods 3010 and 6010 for arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, silver, and selenium;
  • Method 7470 for mercury;
  • Methods 3510 and 8081 for pesticides;
  • Method 8151 for herbicides;
  • Methods 5030 and 8260 for volatile organics; and
  • Methods 3510 and 8270 for semivolatile organics.

However, SW–846 methods do not have to be used to analyze the extract for these constituents. Any method can be used as long as that method has documented quality control and is sensitive enough to meet the regulatory limits. [RO 11568, 11579, 11649]

Sometimes, used antifreeze, upon TCLP testing, is found to contain high levels of arsenic and/or selenium; however, knowledge indicates that neither arsenic nor selenium are present in the materials of construction of the radiator and neither are contained in any process fluids which could leak into the antifreeze. An EPA-funded study found that arsenic and/or selenium may appear as false positives during the analytical process. Although the study was not able to definitively determine the cause of the analytical discrepancy, it did indicate that false positives were not observed when using Methods 6020 or 7060, instead of the more common Method 6010, to test for heavy metals in TCLP leachates from used antifreeze. Note that Method 7060 was deleted from SW–846 in 2007. A complete discussion of these results is contained in Waste Analyses Project for Auto Dealerships—Waste Antifreeze Summary, September 2006, available at

In some situations (particularly for oily wastes and organic liquids), dilution of TCLP liquid extracts for subsequent analysis has resulted in detection limits above regulatory levels. EPA’s guidance in these cases is that it is not possible to determine conclusively whether the waste is hazardous or not. “[I]f no other information is available to assist a generator to make a hazardousness determination in light of the inconclusive TCLP results [i.e., if a knowledge-based determination cannot be made], it would generally be prudent for the generator to manage that waste as a hazardous waste.” [RO 11579]

Other suggestions for measuring analytes in the liquid phase produced when running the TCLP on oily matrices include [RO 11627, 11649, 13485]:

  • For volatile organics, the traditional purge and trap GC/MS method (Method 8240) does not always provide detection limits that are sufficiently low. As an alternative, EPA recommends modifying an existing headspace screening method (Method 3810) to include isotope dilution. This modified method includes the addition of several standard isotopes that correspond to each of the target analytes.
  • For semivolatile organics, the existing SW–846 methods are adequate for analyzing most samples, but oily matrices require dilutions that sometimes yield unacceptable detection limits. To improve the detection levels, EPA recommends a specific ion monitoring (SIM) option on the GC/MS. Instead of scanning the sample for a full spectrum of semivolatile compounds, the agency found that analytes with lower concentration could be easily detected using SIM.

Extraction using a zero-headspace extraction (ZHE) vessel is specified in the TCLP when testing for a volatile constituent in §261.24. However, if the analysis of an extract obtained using a simple bottle extractor results in a concentration of the volatile compound in excess of its regulatory level, the test does not need to be rerun using a ZHE vessel. Results from a bottle extractor cannot be used, however, to show that the concentration of a volatile constituent is below regulatory levels. [November 20, 1997; 62 FR 62084]

Although the TCLP specifies the use of a minimum 100-g sample size, using a sample size <100 g is highly recommended for testing radioactive mixed wastes with concentrations of radionuclides that may present serious radiation exposure hazards. [November 20, 1997; 62 FR 62084] No matter what sample size is used, however, the sample must be representative.

Knowledge often included

There often is an element of knowledge associated with making an analysis-based determination of whether a solid waste exhibits a characteristic. Consider the accidental discharge of gasoline from a tanker. The contaminated soil is excavated for offsite disposal. Is it characteristic? You might use knowledge to determine the soil is not ignitable (if there is no free liquid), not corrosive, and not reactive. Regarding toxicity, you know that the primary toxic constituents in gasoline are the BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes) and that, of those, only benzene is regulated under §261.24. Thus, any toxicity testing would likely be limited to a relatively inexpensive TCLP test for benzene (and perhaps lead if that constituent is thought to be present). The important point to remember is that you can use knowledge to identify the constituents and characteristics that couldn’t be there, simplifying and minimizing the cost of any analytical work. [RO 11603, 14695]

Such generator knowledge is often used in making characteristic waste determinations in manufacturing plants. For example, a facility may know a particular process does not use any pesticides or herbicides, so these chemicals don’t need to be analyzed (via the TCLP) in process residues. Other groups of chemicals can sometimes be categorically eliminated from analysis using process knowledge, such as metals, halogenated organics, etc. Process knowledge regarding possible chemical reactions can also be used to identify constituents for which analysis may be required. [November 20, 1997; 62 FR 62082–5, RO 12830, 13406, 14695]

If the characterization is for a waste such as sludge in a lagoon, then the selection of constituents for testing will be dependent on the historical introduction of materials to the unit, including process wastewaters and surface run-off. Changes in influent composition over time as process changes occur must be evaluated. [RO 13406]

Waste analysis plans

The RCRA regulations require certain facilities managing hazardous waste to establish a waste analysis plan (WAP). A WAP documents the procedures used to obtain a “representative sample” of the waste and to conduct a detailed physical/chemical analysis of that sample. Procedures for obtaining a “representative sample” or samples and for statistically evaluating multiple analytical results will be discussed in a future article.

Under the federal RCRA regs, generators are required to have a WAP in only one situation: when they are treating hazardous waste in a 90/180/270-day accumulation unit for the purpose of meeting LDR treatment standards. All permitted and interim status TSD facilities must have a WAP that complies with §§264/265.13 requirements. Available guidance follows for generators and TSD facilities preparing WAPs.

WAPs for generators

If generators treat hazardous waste in accumulation units for the purpose of meeting an LDR treatment standard, they must develop and follow a written WAP. [§268.7(a)(5)] The WAP must describe the procedures the generator will conduct to comply with the treatment standards and should include eight elements [EPA/530/R-12/001]:

  1. Description of the facility (i.e., facility-specific processes and activities that generate or are used to manage the hazardous wastes, hazardous wastes generated or managed, and hazardous waste management units covered by the WAP).
  2. Identification of the waste constituents and other parameters to be evaluated for the waste streams, both before and after treatment, and the rationale for the selection of these parameters.
  3. Identification of how the generator will obtain a representative sample of the waste, both before and after treatment.
  4. Analytical methods to be used to evaluate the waste, both before and after treatment, what laboratory will be used, and the QA/QC program and procedures.
  5. Testing frequency for the waste, both before and after treatment.
  6. Special procedural requirements—procedures the generator will follow to treat the waste and meet the applicable LDR standards. The WAP must also contain procedures for retreating the waste if testing shows that the treated waste does not meet treatment standards.
  7. Recordkeeping program identifying what records will be maintained, in what format, and for how long.
  8. Description of the facility’s QA/QC corrective and preventative action program for waste analyses, including the process for identifying deficiencies early and procedures for rectifying any deficiencies.

Although there is no required format for the WAP, incorporating these eight elements should satisfy regulatory requirements. EPA/530/R-12/001 contains significant guidance and details on preparing WAPs. The WAP must be maintained at the generator’s facility and be available for inspection.

The above requirements apply to large or small quantity generators who use 90/180/270-day tanks, containers, or containment buildings to treat their hazardous waste. Such entities get to the WAP requirements in §268.7(a)(5) by reference from §262.16(b)(7) or 262.17(a)(9).

A WAP is not required for generators who are treating hazardous wastes in units other than 90/180/270-day accumulation units. Additionally, a WAP is not required for generators treating hazardous debris under the §268.45 alternative treatment standards.

EPA encourages generators not required to have a WAP to prepare one anyway. For example, if a number of samples of a waste are required to characterize the material before disposal, a WAP (although not required) is a good practice.

WAPs for TSD facilities

Permitted and interim status TSD facilities are subject to detailed waste analysis requirements in §§264/265.13. Those sections require that a TSD facility obtain a detailed physical/chemical analysis of a representative sample of a hazardous waste before it can treat, store, or dispose the waste.

Sources of this information include data provided by the generator of the waste (if received from offsite), published or historical data, and analyses performed by the TSD facility itself. Often, a combination of these information sources will be required to fully characterize the waste. The bottom line is that the WAP must identify the physical/chemical data necessary to properly treat, store, or dispose a waste at the TSD facility. [OSWER Directive 9523.00-10, RO 12212]

If the TSD facility accepts hazardous waste from very small quantity generators, it does not have to address such wastes in the WAP. [RO 12376]

For permitted TSD facilities, the WAP is part of their permit. Interim status TSD facilities are also required to have a WAP. The WAP for these facilities consists of ten elements [EPA/530/R-12/001]:

  1. Description of the facility (i.e., facility-specific processes and activities that generate or are used to manage the hazardous wastes, hazardous wastes generated or managed, and hazardous waste management units covered by the WAP).
  2. Identification of the waste constituents and other parameters to be evaluated for received wastes and treated wastes, and the rationale for the selection of these parameters.
  3. Identification of how the facility will obtain a representative sample of received wastes and treated wastes.
  4. Analytical methods that will be used to evaluate the received wastes and treated wastes, what laboratory will be used, and the QA/QC program and procedures.
  5. Testing frequency for received wastes and treated wastes.
  6. Special procedural requirements (e.g., additional waste analysis requirements for specific waste management methods [§§264/265.13(b)(6)] and procedures for: receiving wastes generated offsite; selecting the appropriate LDR treatment standards and treating wastes to meet these standards; obtaining Subpart CC air emission control compliance data; characterizing incompatible, ignitable, and reactive wastes).
  7. Recordkeeping program identifying what records will be maintained, in what format, and for how long.
  8. Description of the facility’s QA/QC corrective and preventative action program for waste analyses, including the process for identifying deficiencies early and procedures for rectifying any deficiencies.
  9. Procedures that the facility will use when there is a discrepancy between the waste designated on the manifest or profile and the waste received at the facility, including how the discrepancies will be resolved.
  10. Procedures that the facility will use for the rejection of waste received.

TSD facility WAPs may be pretty simple or quite complex, depending on the hazardous waste operations conducted at the facility. For example, if the only RCRA-permitted operation at a plant is storage of a relatively homogeneous liquid hazardous waste in a tank, the WAP may be quite simple, identifying analytical parameters such as ignitability and reactivity to illustrate that the waste can be safely stored before shipment to an offsite facility for further storage, treatment, and/or disposal. The plant would also be concerned with waste/tank materials compatibility, as well as the compatibility of different batches of wastes that are stored together; waste analysis data would be required to assure that compatibility exists. An example of the waste analysis data that must be known to properly manage a waste received at an offsite solvent recovery plant is given in Table 1.

Table 1

For a hazardous waste incinerator or landfill, however, the WAP will be extensive and detailed. Sufficient waste analysis data will be required to show that the waste can be properly treated/disposed, considering all LDR implications. EPA provides significant waste analysis guidance for hazardous waste incinerators and also for boilers and industrial furnaces that burn hazardous waste in Waste Analysis Guidance for Facilities That Burn Hazardous Wastes—Draft, EPA/530/R-94/019, October 1994 [available from by downloading the report numbered 530R94019]. EPA/530/R-12/001 also contains significant guidance and details on preparing WAPs for TSD facilities, including two sample WAPs for facilities performing treatment, storage, and landfilling.

Characterization of each movement of waste

One of the most important aspects of waste analysis at TSD facilities is the need to characterize each movement of waste to ensure that the information provided on the waste manifest correctly identifies the waste. [§§264/265.13(a)(4), (c)] What amount of inspection, sampling, and analysis must be conducted to achieve this regulatory requirement? Each facility’s WAP should answer this question, and the answer depends on a variety of site-specific factors. We offer the following general guidance.

Commonly, TSD facilities visually inspect every bulk shipment and every container and its contents for the physical state of the waste, phase separation, texture, color, and odor. They also typically sample/analyze every bulk shipment of waste received. If it is a drummed shipment of a new waste, the facility often analyzes samples from each of the first ten drums (to establish a consistency basis), and then some fraction of the drums after that (if the shipment consists of the same waste stream). According to EPA/530/R-94/019, ASTM Method D140 (available from can be used to estimate the number of containers of a waste stream to be sampled. That method suggests that the number of drums to be randomly selected for sampling should equal the cube root of the total number in the shipment.

Analytical parameters evaluated for bulk loads and selected drums include flash point; cyanide, halogen, and heavy metal concentration; pH; solid vs. liquid concentration; specific gravity; and total organic carbon. The analytical parameters selected for inspection/analysis are called the “fingerprint” parameters and are dependent on the type of waste and the treatment process to be utilized. This fingerprint or spot check evaluates consistency between the received waste and the accompanying manifest. [RO 12943] If something looks suspicious during this initial inspection/analysis, more samples of the bulk load or more drums (or every drum) will be evaluated.

According to EPA, operator knowledge is not an appropriate substitute for fingerprint inspection/analysis, except in the case when the TSD facility accepts manifested waste from a site owned by the same company. Further, if a TSD facility relies on waste analysis data provided by the generator, the TSD facility is ultimately responsible for understanding the wastes to ensure compliance with its permit/regulations and manage the wastes in a protective manner. If the TSD facility relies on generator-supplied information, it is important for the TSD facility to review and verify this information to ensure its adequacy (e.g., by performing fingerprint analyses to determine if a shipment matches the manifest). If the generator does not supply the information or supplies incomplete or inadequate information and the TSD facility chooses to accept the hazardous waste, the TSD facility is responsible for obtaining the information required for compliance. [EPA/530/R-12/001]

If a TSD facility receives a shipment of several sealed drums of mixed wastes (i.e., wastes that are both radioactive and hazardous), a representative sample from only one drum may be adequate if the owner/operator has knowledge that the chemical composition of the waste is identical in every drum. [November 20, 1997; 62 FR 62086]


Topic: Hazardous Remediation Waste Management Options

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This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.