Compliance Corner.


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, 2017 Edition.

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©2017 McCoy and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

Applicability of the Subpart BB Regulations

Figure 1 identifies the conditions under which the Subpart BB fugitive emission control standards will apply to a hazardous waste management operation. Important details referenced in this diagram are discussed below.

Figure 2

One of the most useful references available from EPA on Subpart BB applicability is EPA/450/3-89/021, Technical Guidance Document for RCRA Air Emission Standards for Process Vents and Equipment Leaks, July 1990. This document is available online at by downloading the report numbered 450389021.

Additional guidance and experience on making Subpart BB equipment leak inspections are contained in Inspection Manual: Federal Equipment Leak Regulations for the Chemical Manufacturing Industry, EPA/305/B-98/011, December 1998, available from

Equipment managing hazardous waste

The Subpart BB standards apply only to equipment used to manage hazardous waste. For example, Figure 2 shows a valve on the pipe run that transports product from the process vessel—this valve is not subject to any Subpart BB requirements, because it is not in contact with hazardous waste.Figure 2

Only specific types of equipment are subject to controls

Subpart BB applies to fugitive emissions from certain types of fluid handling equipment. In an operating facility, most of this equipment is found in pipe runs that convey hazardous waste from one location to another. The regulations identify the types of equipment subject to controls but don’t provide any practical information about the equipment. For this type of information, EPA’s publication EPA/450/3-89/021, summarized below, is very helpful.

The following types of equipment are subject to Subpart BB standards:

  1. Valves can emit organics to the atmosphere around the valve stem. Some valves are eligible for reduced controls under §§264/265.1057(f), because they have no external actuating mechanism in contact with the hazardous waste stream. These “leakless” or “sealless” valves come in three types: sealed bellows, diaphragm, and pinch valves.
  2. Pumps having rotating shafts (e.g., centrifugal pumps, gear pumps) or reciprocating shafts (e.g., piston pumps) can emit hydrocarbon vapors where the shafts penetrate the pump housing around the shaft seal. Some specialized (and uncommon) pumps are sealless and designed not to leak (i.e., they have no externally actuated shaft penetrating the pump housing) and are eligible for reduced controls under §§264/265.1052(e). These pumps are generally classified as sealless centrifugal pumps, sealless gear pumps, and diaphragm pumps.
  3. Compressors can emit hydrocarbons around the shaft seal. Even though the Subpart BB regulations include compressor standards, we don’t think they are triggered very often because gases in piping systems are not considered to be solid or hazardous wastes. Therefore, compressors (which only handle gases) are rarely in hazardous waste service. Why did EPA include compressor standards in Subpart BB? The Subpart BB regs were copied from Clean Air Act regulations that apply to equipment regardless of whether it is in hazardous waste service or not.
  4. Pressure-relief devices are typically either spring loaded or consist of a rupture disk. If a spring-loaded device is set to relieve pressure very close to the system operating pressure it will “simmer” and emit organics to the atmosphere. Similarly, if a spring-loaded device does not properly reseat, it will leak. Once a rupture disk releases pressure via failure, it will emit hydrocarbons until replaced. Pressure-relief devices in either gas or liquid service are subject to Subpart BB.
  5. Sampling systems are emission sources when sample lines are purged prior to sampling and the purged material drains onto the ground or into the sewer where it can evaporate. The Subpart BB controls address the disposition of these purged liquids. In situ sampling systems (i.e., nonextractive samplers or in-line samplers) and sampling systems without purges are not subject to such controls. [§§264/265.1055(c)] (Note, however, that if the sampling system includes any open-ended valves, the next category applies.)
  6. Open-ended valves or lines are, by definition, open to the atmosphere and can be a source of emissions. If the valve is faulty or not completely closed, significant emissions can result. Examples are purge valves, drain valves, and vent valves.
  7. Flanges and other connectors can produce emissions if, for example, a flange gasket is leaking. What is a “connector”? Section 264.1031 defines a connector as “flanged, screwed, welded, or other joined fittings used to connect two pipelines or a pipeline and a piece of equipment.” In guidance, EPA states: “For reporting and recordkeeping purposes, the definition of ‘connector’ includes only flanged fittings (e.g., those screwed, welded, or otherwise joined are not flanges).” Also the §264.1031 definition of “connector” states: “For purposes of reporting and recordkeeping, connector means flanged fittings that are not covered by insulation or other materials that prevent location of the fittings.” Therefore, screwed unions, quick-disconnect hose fittings, and strainer housings with flange-type tops are not “connectors” for the purposes of reporting and recordkeeping. For purposes of inspection, leak monitoring, and repair, screwed unions, quick-disconnect hose fittings, and strainer housings would be subject to Subpart BB. [RO 11802]

Organic concentration of 10 percent by weight triggers requirements

Per §§264/265.1050(b), the Subpart BB regulations apply only where organic concentrations of at least 10% by weight are involved; however, facilities must document per §§264/265.1064(k) that certain equipment is exempt from these requirements because the organics concentration within the equipment is <10%. The test methods used to determine if a waste meets the 10% limit are codified in §§264/265.1063(d). When direct measurement (as opposed to process knowledge) is used, samples are analyzed using any of the methods cited below:

  • SW–846 Method 9060—Total Organic Carbon;
  • ASTM D2267-88—Standard Test Method for Aromatics in Light Naphthas and Aviation Gasolines by Gas Chromatography;
  • ASTM E169-87—Standard Practices for General Techniques of Ultraviolet-Visible Quantitative Analysis;
  • ASTM E168-88—Standard Practices for General Techniques of Infrared Quantitative Analysis; or
  • ASTM E260-85—Standard Practice for Packed Column Gas Chromatography.

Samples collected for testing must be representative of the highest total organic content in hazardous waste that is expected to contact the equipment.

A two-phase liquid is stored in a hazardous waste tank. How does the facility owner sample the waste to determine whether it has a 10% organic content (which would subject all equipment associated with the tank to Subpart BB)?

“If the organic content fluctuates or the equipment handles more than one waste stream, determination will be based on the maximum total organics content of a waste stream contained or contacted by the equipment.… [W]hen the waste is stratified, it is necessary to obtain and integrate subsamples from all layers of the waste material.” [EPA/450/3-89/021, cited previously]

Up-to-date information on the organic concentration of waste in contact with Subpart BB equipment must be recorded in the facility operating record. [§§264/265.1064(b)(1)(iv), (k)(3)]

Knowledge-based determinations

Rather than using the direct measurement options previously explained, an owner/operator may use knowledge to determine whether the equipment contains or contacts hazardous waste with an organic concentration >10% by weight. If a knowledge-based determination is made, §§264/265.1063(d)(3) specify that documentation of the waste determination is required.

The first example of using knowledge in §§264/265.1063(d)(3) discusses understanding of the process and allows an owner/operator to document that “no organic compounds are used” in the production process. In some instances, knowing that your production process does not use organics may be sufficient. However, using knowledge of the process should also entail a detailed look at all the chemical constituents formed in the production process.

Other examples in §§264/265.1063(d)(3) utilize knowledge of the process which stems from analytical testing. In the second example, an owner/operator may use information from waste generated by a process at another facility provided that the processes are identical and the other facility has previously demonstrated, by direct measurement, that the waste stream has a total organic content less than 10 percent. In the third example, prior speciated analytical results may be used for a waste stream for which an owner/operator can document that no process changes have occurred since that analysis that could affect the total organic concentration. In both the second and third examples, if analytical results were obtained for another regulatory purpose, or the analytical results may not have considered organics formed in the process, direct measurement may be the most conservative approach.

A 300-hr/year contact time is required

If a piece of equipment as described above contacts hazardous waste for less than 300 hours per calendar year, it is not subject to Subpart BB standards. [§§264.1050(f)/265.1050(e)]

“[T]he amount of time that equipment contains hazardous waste, whether at operating capacity or as a residue, is considered time that the equipment ‘contains or contacts’ hazardous waste. Thus, if Subpart BB equipment contains Subpart BB-regulated hazardous waste residues for more than 300 hours during a calendar year, that equipment would not be exempt…. EPA purposefully worded the provision to say ‘contains or contacts’ because the emissions from the equipment are related to the organic hazardous waste that is in the equipment; even if the process or equipment is not in service, the organic hazardous waste in contact with the equipment has the potential to volatilize, and EPA considers it necessary to subject the equipment to the requirements of Subpart BB…. [F]or this regulatory requirement, instances during which equipment contains or contacts Subpart BB-regulated waste need not be consecutive; it is only required that the sum of all time that the equipment contains or contacts Subpart BB-regulated waste is less than 300 hours per calendar year.” [December 8, 1997; 62 FR 64641]

If a facility exempts its equipment from Subpart BB requirements because it contains or contacts hazardous waste with an organic concentration of at least 10% for <300 hours/year, it must document such exemption per §§264/265.1064(g)(6).

Only equipment associated with certain categories of units is regulated

Not all equipment as described above is subject to Subpart BB. Only equipment associated with units that fit into three categories is regulated. [§§264/265.1050(b)]

First, equipment associated with units that are subject to the permitting standards of Part 270 (i.e., they either have a RCRA permit or are in interim status) is subject to Subpart BB. Equipment associated with the following types of units that are exempt from RCRA permitting is also exempt from Subpart BB:

  • Manufacturing process units (these units are not subject to Subpart BB because they are not managing hazardous wastes)—see exemption in §261.4(c).
  • Totally enclosed treatment facilities—see exemption in §270.1(c)(2)(iv).
  • Elementary neutralization units—see exemption in §270.1(c)(2)(v).
  • Wastewater treatment units—see exemption in §270.1(c)(2)(v).
  • Closed-loop recycling units—see exemption in §261.4(a)(8).

Second, if a recycling unit is located at a facility that has a RCRA permit (e.g., for hazardous waste storage tanks), the equipment connected to the recycling unit is subject to Subpart BB. [§261.6(d)] On the other hand, if the recycling unit is located at a generator’s facility that does not have or need a RCRA permit for any treatment, storage, or disposal activities, equipment associated with the recycling unit is not subject to Subpart BB.

Third, equipment connected to 90-day units (that are not recycling units) is subject to Subpart BB.

Case Study 1 and the following examples illustrate the applicability of Subpart BB.

Case Study 1 Figure 3

A facility has a RCRA-permitted container storage area. Do any Subpart BB standards apply to the containers?

Maybe. Most of the equipment subject to Subpart BB is not typically associated with containers. Although containers may have pressure-relief devices as shown in Figure 2, we have heard anecdotally that a pressure-relief device mounted in the vapor space of a 90-day container would not be subject to Subpart BB. Instead, such a pressure-relief device would be subject to Subpart CC requirements in §265.1087(c)(3)(iv), (d)(3)(iv). However, we don’t have official guidance saying this, so you will need to check with your state or EPA to be sure. On the other hand, equipment in a pipe run that is used to fill 90-day containers would be subject to Subpart BB.

A large quantity generator accumulates spent solvent in a 90-day tank prior to processing it in a batch still. The generator does not have a RCRA permit. Does Subpart BB apply to this operation?

Yes. Equipment in the pipe runs to and from the 90-day tank is subject to Subpart BB.

A wood preserving facility operates a drip pad under the §262.17(a)(3) 90-day provisions. Does Subpart BB apply to this operation?

Maybe. Subpart BB applies to 90-day units regulated under §262.17. These §262.17 regulations apply to tanks, containers, Subpart W drip pads, and Subpart DD containment buildings. However, §§264/265.1050(b), which specify that Subpart BB applies to 90-day units, only refer to tanks and containers. If wood preserving wastes with >10% organics are contained in a waste collection system associated with the drip pad, and the system includes any of the equipment discussed earlier, the facility owner/operator should seek a determination from EPA or the state as to whether Subpart BB applies.

A state does not recognize EPA’s closed-loop recycling exemption codified at §261.4(a)(8); therefore, under state regulation, material in the recycling system (including pipe runs) is a hazardous waste. Are the pipe runs subject to Subpart BB regulations?

EPA has no jurisdiction over state regulations that are broader in scope than the federal requirements. Although the state can choose to make the closed-loop unit subject to Subpart BB, EPA’s air emission regulations do not apply. [RO 13487]

Equipment in compliance with CAA requirements is exempt

To eliminate regulatory overlap between the CAA (which also regulates fugitive emissions) and RCRA, EPA codified an exemption at §§264/265.1064(m). In the Federal Register preamble establishing this exemption, the agency stated that, if the relevant documentation requirements of 40 CFR Part 60—Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources, Part 61—National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, or Part 63—National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Source Categories are met, this constitutes compliance with Subpart BB.

“[This provision allows owners and operators of] any equipment that contains or contacts hazardous waste that is subject to Subpart BB and also subject to regulations in 40 CFR Part 60, 61, or 63 to determine compliance with Subpart BB by documentation of compliance with the relevant provisions of the Clean Air Act rules…. Because compliance with Subpart BB is demonstrated through recordkeeping, this recordkeeping revision has the effect of exempting equipment that would otherwise be subject to Subpart BB from Subpart BB requirements, provided the equipment is operated, monitored, and repaired in accordance with an applicable CAA standard, and appropriate records are kept to that effect.” [December 8, 1997; 62 FR 64641]

One caveat exists for this CAA exemption:

“EPA does not consider it appropriate to allow the [40 CFR Part 63] Subpart RR drain system requirements to substitute for the more extensive open-ended valve and line requirements of Subpart BB, because application of the Subpart RR standards to Subpart BB equipment would not provide an equivalent level of organic emission control as would be achieved by compliance with the applicable Subpart BB requirements.” [December 8, 1997; 62 FR 64642]


Topic: Spills and Spill Residues

©2017 McCoy and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.


Considerable care has been exercised in preparing this document; however, McCoy and Associates, Inc. makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with the publication of this information. McCoy and Associates, Inc. expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state, or municipal law or regulation with which this information may conflict. McCoy and Associates, Inc. does not undertake any duty to ensure the continued accuracy of this information.

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.