Review Articles

Healthy RCRA

Our next two .VIRTUAL RCRA seminars are coming up, May 24-28 and July 26-30, 2021. It may seem counter-intuitive, but spending five days with us is the fastest way to learn RCRA. This nuanced seminar breaks down the complexities of RCRA into bite-sized chunks so you’ll walk away with a clear understanding of the regs and invaluable tips. Speaking of bite-sized chunks, May 24 is National Asparagus Day, so celebrate your knowledge with healthy sprouts!

Register for May .VIRTUAL RCRA seminar
5-Day .VIRTUAL Agenda

Join our June CAA seminar

The behemoth Clean Air Act regulations are perplexing, and even the most seasoned air professionals don’t have all the answers. We present the regs in a different light—we’ve discovered the patterns within the regs—and this helps you to understand the purpose and reason behind them.

This virtual seminar includes three presenters, who answer live questions and provide practical knowledge. Best of all, we’ve coalesced the massive amounts of data into CAA applicability tables and a detailed appendix to help simplify your decision-making. Join us June 8 – 10, 2021.

Register for CAA June .VIRTUAL seminar
3-Day CAA .VIRTUAL Agenda

Quick and refreshing

If your schedule is tight, you know your way around the RCRA regulations, and you prefer a faster pace, consider our June RCRA Refresher to be held June 29–30, 2021. Our veteran content experts lead the way in this interactive virtual setting. Hold real-time conversations on regs with the instructors and enjoy the accelerated presentation. Get refreshed on RCRA in two action-packed days.

Register for June .VIRTUAL RCRA Refresher
2-Day .VIRTUAL Agenda

Waste management on tribal lands

In February, EPA added a factsheet on sustainable tribal waste management to its tribal waste management program site. The guide summarizes various strategies to assist tribal communities with waste management, while acknowledging their unique histories, cultures, finances, and geographies. Numerous links are included in the factsheet to additional resources related to financial viability, education and outreach, planning, program administration, and operation.

Lithium battery safety webinars

Lithium batteries pose safety and compliance challenges during onsite management and transportation. On May 18 and May 25, a 2-part training webinar will be hosted by the Northeast Recycling Council and the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association. The two 1.5-hour classes will provide a regulatory overview of lithium batteries, discuss their uses and recycling, and explore ways to reduce fire risks. You must register for each webinar separately if you would like to attend.

Paltry guidance on POLYM

New EPA guidance sheds a little light on the RCRA implications of using polymerization (POLYM) as a form of hazardous waste treatment. This technology chemically bonds scrap resin monomers into a solid inert material, which can then be sent for nonhazardous waste disposal. But, is application of indirect heat to scrap resin/catalyst mixtures considered thermal treatment necessitating a RCRA permit? Also, what are the Subpart CC air emissions requirements for containers used for POLYM? EPA hints at some answers. READ MORE

New resources for battery management

In March, EPA unveiled three new webpages containing information on the safe disposal and recycling of batteries at both businesses and residences. While there are many different types of battery chemistries, the underlying hazards are very similar. Recycling to recover valuable minerals, rather than disposal, improves regulatory compliance and also promotes environmental stewardship. READ MORE

Overtime for CCR NODA

On December 22, 2020, EPA issued a notice of data availability (NODA) and request for comment on coal combustion residue (CCR) piles and beneficial use criteria. Our previous article provides details. The agency is extending the public comment period for this NODA for an additional 60 days through May 11, 2021. [86 FR 14066]

HW compendium available

Many resources are available as aids in understanding the hazardous waste regulations, including McCoy’s RCRA Unraveled. EPA recently created the Hazardous Waste Generator Regulations Compendium. This is a hyperlinked and cross-referenced Internet resource, containing EPA memoranda, questions and answers, and Federal Register rules. READ MORE

GIR transition tool

In the 2016 generator improvements rule (GIR), EPA consolidated most of the generator requirements into Part 262 to reduce cross-references to Parts 261 and 265. These revisions resulted in the creation of many new regulatory sections and deletion of old ones. In January 2021, the agency created the Crosswalk of Previous Regulations to Reorganized Regulations, which cross-references previous regulatory citations with their new ones. It even includes a “comment” section, containing additional information describing the nature of the regulatory changes.

Waste guide for developing countries

By 2050, an estimated 3.4 billion metric tons of solid waste is expected to be generated annually on a worldwide basis. The United Nations Environment Program estimates at least 2 billion people living in developing countries lack waste collection and rely on uncontrolled dumpsites. To address these issues, EPA compiled a decision-maker’s guide for managing solid waste in developing countries to help get these areas headed in the right direction. READ MORE

Audit policy Qs get As

A great way to ensure compliance with applicable environmental regulations is via a self-auditing program. EPA has a formal audit policy whereby facilities that discover, fix, and self-report violations of federal environmental laws and regulations may receive penalty mitigation. The agency has recently issued new guidance clarifying several aspects of its audit policy. READ MORE

How to retire scrap tires

Occasionally, EPA provides guidance and insight into nonhazardous secondary material (NHSM) determinations for materials processed and then burned as fuels. In December 2020, the agency published a fact sheet on its NHSM determination for scrap tires. To receive nonwaste status under the Part 241 NHSM provisions, discarded tires must be processed into tire-derived fuel. Typically, this means the tires are chipped or shredded, sorted, and dewired (with at least 90% wire removal). [76 FR 15498]

Mapping hazardous waste

While there are thousands of large quantity generators (LQGs) throughout the country, only a small portion operate on federal or tribal lands. EPA has created an interactive map displaying these LQGs. Although operating on federal or tribal lands, these LQGs are often owned by private entities. Additional waste data from these and other generator facilities can be obtained by exploring EPA’s biennial report summary.

New e-Manifest bulletin

To help improve stakeholder communication, EPA has launched the e-Manifest Quarterly Bulletin. The first issue arrived in February and provided an overview of the e-manifest system’s latest developments and what’s right around the corner. In this initial installment, you’ll find information on the recent e-manifest advisory board meeting, the new quick-sign feature, help on registering for the e-manifest system, and more. The e-manifest monthly webinars are also still being held, typically at 2 pm Eastern time on the last Wednesday of each month.

2019 biennial report online

The numbers are in: U.S. large quantity generators generated more than 34 million tons of hazardous waste in 2019. The 2019 biennial report data are available, and EPA’s website provides significant flexibility in accessing the data. Waste generation and management data are available all the way back to the 2001 reporting cycle. So, if you are interested in knowing how much hazardous waste was generated in the Northern Mariana Islands in 2007, the biennial report website has your answer. READ MORE

GIR penalties clarified

EPA recently updated its RCRA civil penalty policy, clarifying penalty assessments for violations of the 2016 generator improvements rule (GIR). Most importantly, the revisions reiterate the agency’s position that noncompliance with certain generator regulations may constitute operation of a TSD facility without a RCRA permit. READ MORE


Federal agencies have taken numerous steps to protect their employees and regulated communities from the effects of COVID-19. EPA has provided FAQs about the virus, including how the virus has impacted the agency’s waste program. READ MORE

March e-manifest meeting

The fifth meeting of the hazardous waste e-manifest advisory board will be held in March. To prepare people who will be attending and providing comment, EPA provided an e-manifest background white paper and other documents detailing past accomplishments and future functionality. Included is a preview of the proposed e-manifest fees for FY 2022–23. READ MORE

Solidifying no-migration guidance

No-migration variances (NMVs) are not a high-profile part of the RCRA regs. But, it turns out many TSD facilities treating and disposing hazardous waste may need one. This obligation is particularly true if the facility operates a temporary waste pile within a landfill cell. EPA is seeking input on draft guidance related to how facilities operating under these circumstances can petition for an NMV. Comments are being accepted through February 18, 2021. READ MORE

E15 rule may rust USTs

EPA is concerned that the shift to fuels containing high concentrations of ethanol (e.g., E15) could cause compatibility issues with existing underground storage tanks (USTs) designed to store more traditional fuels. Thus, existing UST regulations (at §280.32) require a compatibility demonstration for USTs holding ethanol-fuel blends. On January 19, 2021, EPA proposed a rule that would, among other things, provide additional flexibility when demonstrating UST equipment compatibility with ethanol blends. [86 FR 5094] Comment is being sought through April 19, 2021 via Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2020-0448.

CCR rule technical correction

On November 12, 2020, EPA finalized a rule allowing facilities to request approval to operate an existing coal combustion residues (CCR) surface impoundment with an alternate liner. [85 FR 72506] You can read our discussion of this rule in a previous article. The agency issued minor corrections to the rule on December 14, 2020 [85 FR 80626], which reference withdrawal of the decision on the alternate source demonstration.

CCR ANPRM comment period extended

On October 14, 2020, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for legacy coal combustion residues (CCR) surface impoundments. Our previous article gives the details. The agency is extending the public comment period for this ANPRM by an additional 60 days, through February 12, 2021. [85 FR 80718]

Latest regulatory agenda maintains CCR focus

The 2020 fall regulatory agenda is now available. Within the RCRA program, EPA plans to continue work on regulating coal combustion residues (CCR) and improving the e-manifest system. Under CERCLA, the agency is looking to regulate PFAS. READ MORE

Beneficial use of CCR

On December 22, 2020, EPA made new information and data available related to its coal combustion residues (CCR) beneficial use definition and accumulation provisions. The agency’s beneficial use and piles rule was proposed a year and a half ago, but it isn’t ready to be finalized. Instead, EPA is seeking public input based on new information gathered via utility CCR websites and stakeholder meetings. This is the agency’s second look at CCR beneficial use and piles after a 2018 DC Circuit Court remand. READ MORE

Incremental increase for RCRA civil penalties

EPA is required by law to make an annual adjustment to the maximum RCRA civil penalties. The 2021 adjustments were made in December, resulting in another ratcheting up of the penalties. While there are no surprises, we encourage you to review the cost of noncompliance for the new year. READ MORE

PFAS destruction and disposal

As required by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, EPA released interim guidance on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) destruction and disposal. Although PFAS perform useful functions in certain products, they also bioaccumulate in the environment and can cause adverse human health effects. EPA’s guidance provides information on feasible and appropriate PFAS destruction and disposal technologies and also identifies areas for future research and development. READ MORE

Puerto Rico regs a fuego

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has a unique position within the USA, and its RCRA program is also unique. EPA Region 2 administers the federal portion of the RCRA regulations via its Caribbean Environmental Protection Division. In addition, Puerto Rico has its own regulations administered by its Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. So, complying with the hazardous waste program can get a little messy. If you are lucky enough to work on this tropical paradise, you may need some help navigating its hazardous waste regulations. We have gathered and clarified the rules in our new white paper: “Puerto Rico’s Hazardous Waste Program.”

Another chance to improve e-manifest

The e-manifest advisory board will hold another public meeting March 2–4, 2021. Announced in a December 29, 2020 Federal Register notice [85 FR 85631], the purpose of the meeting is for EPA to seek the board’s consultation and recommendations regarding e-manifest program priorities and user fees for FY2022 and 2023. This public meeting will be conducted virtually. Registration is required to attend and/or provide oral comment during the meeting. Please refer to the e-manifest advisory board website for information on how to register as a public audience attendee and/or oral commenter.

New non-waste fuels: shredded autos and appliances

The latest nonhazardous secondary material (NHSM) determination from EPA is for auto shredder residue (ASR). [RO 14937] NHSM determinations via 40 CFR Part 241 are important because they impact which set of Clean Air Act regulations apply when combusting that material. In this instance, ASR is considered a non-waste fuel under §241.3(b)(4). You can read about the details of how EPA makes such determinations in a previous article.

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