Review Articles

Rip van Guidance

Although twenty years old, recently released RO 14932 is still relevant. The 2000 guidance reaffirms EPA’s position from 1985, noting that sulfuric acid from a smelter’s metallurgical acid plant is a co-product, rather than a waste. If you are not working in the metal smelting industry, why should you care? Because a material designated by RCRA as a co-product, even if it is contaminated with heavy metals in excess of their toxicity characteristic levels, is still a nonwaste.

The next decade of corrective action

EPA’s RCRA corrective action (CA) program is the mechanism the agency uses to require the cleanup of RCRA-permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. Since 1984, this program has resulted in the cleanup of thousands of sites throughout the country. Many of these facilities have spent millions of dollars to achieve their CA objectives. On September 1, 2020, EPA announced the program’s goals for the next ten years. READ MORE

State authorization of RCRA rules

A lot has changed since RCRA first started 40 years ago, and complying with new rules can be challenging. How do you know if the state you operate in has adopted a new rule or if the rule even needs to be adopted? If you can’t find the answer on your state environmental agency’s website, you can always use EPA’s authorization status tracker. The document includes the adoption and authorization status for rules promulgated under the base RCRA program and HSWA authority. READ MORE

Join our November 2-Day

Catch up on the regs at our 2-Day RCRA Virtual Seminar, November 9–10, 2020. Our presenters provide a unique seminar experience through a live broadcast of our in-person RCRA training. This course packs a lot into two days; so the pace is accelerated. Still, get immediate answers to your questions and learn how to decipher complex RCRA regulations. Join us.

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Quick Sherpa

Do you ever need RCRA guidance fast? McCoy has the right tool to speed things up. Sherpa includes RCRA Reference and RCRA Unraveled and links them together with a powerful search engine. And it’s packed with EPA guidance, interactive flow charts, over 50,000 hyperlinks, electronic bookmarks, and more. McCoy Sherpa—quick guidance for a fast-track world.

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That’s the fact sheets, Jack

Though a few years old, EPA’s generator improvements rule has been adopted by only about half of the RCRA-authorized states. Consequently, many generators are still getting used to the new requirements and are looking for a little guidance. To assist facilities, EPA updated its RCRA compliance fact sheets for both very small and large quantity generators. READ MORE

CCR closure rule finalized after 120,000-plus comments

The first final rule of 2020 dealing with the management of coal combustion residues (CCR) has been promulgated. Effective September 28, 2020, this rule finalizes several requirements for CCR unit closure and also addresses aspects of a 2018 court vacatur. We break down the five significant components of this CCR unit closure rule in our article. READ MORE

Waste FAQs relocated again

Recently, we noted that EPA had moved its waste FAQs database. As of August 2020, the Waste—Frequent Questions database has yet another new home. Most, if not all, of the guidance from the old waste FAQs database is in the new location, and there is still an option to submit a question. However, one function is missing from the new site; there is no longer an option to search through the entire database.

New non-waste fuel determination

EPA recently weighed in on another Part 241 non-waste fuel determination. The latest determination is for “waste” paper generated at certain pulp and paper facilities. Though the Part 241 regulations fall outside of the hazardous waste program, such determinations impact CAA compliance requirements. READ MORE

Appealing permits

In August 2020, EPA finalized an administrative rule that streamlines procedures during the appeal of various environmental permits. Challenging a RCRA, NPDES, SWDA, or CAA permit means a stint in front of the Environmental Appeals Board. The rule modifies many provisions governing how the board operates and grants the EPA Administrator a good deal of power regarding legal interpretations. READ MORE

Manifest signature alternatives policy extended

In May 2020, EPA released a memo providing flexibility regarding signatures on paper manifests due to impacts from COVID-19. We wrote about the impacts previously. In August, the agency released an additional memo, new RO 14936, which extends this flexibility until November 30, 2020. The memo contains three changes from the original policy: 1) shortening the required phrasing in Block 15, 2) changing the EPA policy reference in the generator’s signature substitute, and 3) removing language referencing the Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy (terminated August 31) regarding recordkeeping.

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Open the door for your entire team to access McCoy Sherpa with a LAN/WAN license. Look up RCRA regs and guidance with its easy-to-use search engine. Sherpa contains over 50,000 hyperlinks, an electronic table of contents, flowcharts, and much more. It’s a tool for increased efficiency. Let the power of Sherpa lift your team.

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New test methods included in SW–846 update

Update VII to SW–846 has arrived, making two specific changes to EPA’s compendium of solid waste sampling and test methods. First, the agency updated multiple methods stemming from the modernizing ignitable liquids determinations rule; among the updated methods are 1010B and 1020C, used to determine the flash point of liquids. Second, Method 8327 was added, which analyzes for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). While SW–846 contains methods for analyzing solid wastes, RCRA does not currently regulate PFAS. A second method for analyzing for PFAS, Method 3512, will soon be added; it now exists as an appendix to Method 8327.

Reduce holding times, increase accuracy

Adhering to recommended analytical sample holding times reduces error in the sample results. Reduced error equates to increased accuracy, meaning the end user of the analytical results, such as a hazardous waste generator, can perform a more accurate hazardous waste determination—a fundamental aspect of RCRA. May 2020 guidance from EPA clarifies holding time guidelines found in SW–846 and aligns these recommendations with other quality assurance programs. READ MORE

RCRA/MEBA interface a little less mercuric

While still having its uses in various scientific research applications, the market for elemental mercury has mostly dried up. A significant cause of this reduced demand is the Mercury Export Ban Act (MEBA). This law prohibits the export of elemental mercury from the United States and impacts facilities managing waste elemental mercury due to MEBA’s amalgam with the RCRA storage prohibition. New guidance from EPA discusses this confluence and the establishment of DOE’s long-term mercury storage facility. READ MORE

Waste FAQs have a new home

With the creation of EPA’s guidance portal, the agency is making changes to its other guidance databases. Guidance from the Waste—Frequent Questions database has been transferred to a new webpage, and the only remaining function on the old page is the ability to submit a question. While significant changes to other databases, like RCRA Online, have not yet been made, the agency may do so in the future. READ MORE

Update on e-manifesting

An e-Manifest Advisory Board public meeting was held April 14-16, 2020. The goal was to find ways of increasing e-manifest system usage, including reducing the administrative burden associated with generator and transporter e-signatures. After considering written and oral comments from regulatory agencies and industry, the board made several recommendations to EPA. READ MORE

RCRA rules on the horizon

The 2020 spring regulatory agenda is now available. EPA’s big efforts in the RCRA program are focused on coal combustion residue management, regulating PFAS under CERCLA, and improvements to the e-manifest system. READ MORE

Attention to air standards advised

Violations of RCRA’s air emission standards are still prevalent despite being one of EPA’s national compliance initiatives for years. Periodically, EPA disseminates guidance and advisories to help affected facilities maintain compliance. Along those lines, the agency issued an “enforcement alert” in June, describing its findings during numerous compliance inspections and its expectations for demonstrating compliance. Of particular interest is the discussion of the relationship between RCRA’s air emission standards and the CAA. READ MORE

Another method for generating e-manifest reports

The RCRAInfo Industry Application has new functionality related to e-manifests. A new tab called “Reports/Extracts” allows users to sort through facility, manifest, and waste line information based on facility type, date, and site ID search criteria. Due to the vast quantities of data the extracts pull from, it may take some time to generate the requested report. Fortunately, reports are saved so they can be referred to later.

Disaster planning resources

For some areas of the United States, natural disasters are a relatively rare occurrence. Other areas will suffer the experience on a frequent basis. Waste management and disaster planning professionals now have an updated, nationwide resource to help them plan for the worst. EPA’s Disaster Debris Recovery Tool contains a list of tens of thousands of facilities capable of landfilling and recycling many different types of debris generated from these disasters. Provided contact information allows users to take a proactive approach to protect their community in times of crisis. READ MORE

Don’t get burned by ignitability rule

EPA’s new rule modernizing ignitable liquids determinations is effective at the federal level on September 8, 2020. The rule won’t drastically change how generators make a D001 determination, but it does bring the definition of an ignitable hazardous waste into the 21st century. Will the other hazardous waste characteristics receive a similar revamp in the near future? We’ll have to wait and see. READ MORE

EPA terminates COVID-19 enforcement policy

In light of COVID-19, EPA issued a policy memo in March describing the agency’s increased discretion when deciding whether to enforce certain environmental regulations. We summarized the impacts of that memo in a previous article. On June 29, 2020, EPA released an additional memo terminating the temporary policy. Termination is set to occur at 11:59 PM Eastern time on August 31, 2020. Based on changing conditions, EPA may terminate the temporary policy at an earlier time and, if so, will provide notification at least seven days prior to any earlier termination date.

CCR comments continued, part deux

EPA’s proposed rule for a federal coal combustion residues (CCR) permit program had an original public comment deadline of April 20, 2020. [85 FR 9940] After a first comment extension to May 20, 2020 expired [85 FR 20625], the agency has provided yet another extension—this time to July 19, 2020. [85 FR 29878]

Hazardous waste import reporting

Importing hazardous waste requires a little extra paperwork to demonstrate RCRA compliance. Facilities involved in hazardous waste imports must include additional information on the WR and GM forms in their biennial reports. EPA’s Office of Inspector General found that TSD facilities and LQGs often do not submit all of the required information, or do so incorrectly. Recent guidance for importers clarifies these issues. READ MORE

First SQG renotification requirement coming up

In 2021, SQGs start a four-year renotification cycle. Renotification will help keep SQG information current in the RCRAInfo database, just like an LQG’s completion of a biennial report. Though EPA Form 8700-12 is the primary vehicle for meeting this SQG renotification requirement, states may require completion of equivalent documents. READ MORE

Significant changes to the development and use of EPA guidance

A proposed administrative rule will significantly change the way EPA develops, and the regulated community uses, regulatory guidance. In conjunction with the agency’s new guidance portal, there will soon be regulations governing how EPA issues, modifies, and withdraws guidance documents. The proposal is intended to ensure guidance documents are appropriately reviewed, accessible and transparent, and open to public participation. READ MORE

Manifest signature alternatives

Hazardous waste manifesting is a linchpin of the RCRA program, allowing the regulators and regulated community to keep track of waste from cradle-to-grave. And a critical part of manifesting is obtaining signatures from the generator, transporter, and designated facility. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made such a simple and mundane task a health risk. To address this situation, EPA has provided some alternatives to the traditional hard-copy signature usually applied by generators. READ MORE

RCRA turns 40!

May 19, 2020 marked the birthday of the RCRA regulations; first issued forty years ago in 1980. Some of you have been involved with this program from its inception and some have just started your environmental management career.

We believe that RCRA has helped us to have clean parks to play in, clean water to drink, and clean air to enjoy. And that’s worth commemorating! And if you didn’t celebrate last month, it’s not too late. The effective date of the RCRA regs was November 19, 1980, so you have plenty of time to book the caterer and order the cake. Between now and November, there’s plenty of time to celebrate 40 years of RCRA compliance.

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