Review Articles

Solar panels feel the heat

Solar is a rapidly growing energy source in the United States. The panels used for solar energy typically have a life span of over 25 years. When they reach end of life, they must be managed safely when sent for disposal. EPA has a web page discussing some considerations for disposing of solar panels. If your solar panels are determined to be hazardous waste, then RCRA regulations must be followed to ensure the solar panels are recycled or disposed of safely. READ MORE

Corrective action closeout

EPA has made the RCRA Corrective Action 2020 Goals Closeout Fact Sheet available. This document provides a background on the goals that the agency set for the program and discusses the results. McCoy discussed these goals in more detail in a previous article. EPA has announced new 2030 goals for the RCRA Corrective Action program on their website as well.

Apathetic adoption

Adoption of the e-manifest system has been much slower than anticipated. Thus, EPA is holding two virtual public meetings, one in October and one in November, to discuss how to increase adoption of electronic manifests and solicit feedback from stakeholders. READ MORE

Mercury storage redux

The Mercury Export Ban Act (MEBA) was signed into law in 2008. One section of MEBA requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to designate a facility for the long-term storage of waste elemental mercury generated in the United States. The department established a fee rule and designated a long-term storage facility, but the rule was vacated by the courts. On October 6, 2020, DOE announced an amended record of decision reflecting the court vacatur. READ MORE

EPA has a plan

EPA announced the availability of its Draft Strategic Plan for FY 2022-2026. [86 FR 54448] This plan includes seven strategic goals focused on protecting human health and the environment along with four cross-agency strategies that describe the methods EPA will employ to carry out its mission. EPA expects the final Strategic Plan will be submitted to Congress in February 2022. Comments are due by November 12, 2021. You can submit comments through Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OA-2021-0403, and you can view the Draft Strategic Plan online.

Love food, hate waste

Food waste is a major global environmental, social, and economic challenge. EPA has recently developed two reports summarizing the contamination in food waste streams and the potential risks to human health and the environment. EPA also discusses food waste processing methods, food waste management, and other emerging issues with food waste. Additional information on this topic and both reports can be found on EPA’s food waste page.

Finally…understand CAA

Clean Air Act experts know each facility has unique air emission issues and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. In addition, CAA is a behemoth that takes years of experience to understand. Shorten the learning curve by attending McCoy’s CAA seminar, November 2-4, 2021, and you’ll be glad you did. Our customers share they now understand air concepts—after our training—that were mystifying before.

Register for the November CAA training
Register for the January CAA training
See the CAA agenda

Plenty of room for RCRA

Catch a McCoy .VIRTUAL 2-Day RCRA Refresher on November 16–17, 2021 or attend our 5-Day seminar on December 6-10, 2021. Our training provides thorough insights and clarifies the complexity known as RCRA. Our two presenters will walk you through case studies, explain waste identification, and answer questions to help you make the right RCRA decisions at your facility. Register today.

Register for our RCRA Refresher on November 16–17
Attend the 5-Day December .V RCRA seminar
5-Day .VIRTUAL Agenda

Borrow McCoy’s tools

Use the right tool for the job—and you’ll find many on our website including white papers, forms, and helpful links that help you speed through your day. If you’re looking for specific content (e.g., are sumps tanks?), search Compliance Corner where we clarify certain aspects of RCRA and write up the results. Or take a second look at past content published in RCRA Review. McCoy content isn’t “gated,” so you don’t need to give away your private information.

White papers, forms, and helpful links
Compliance Corner
Past content from RCRA Review

Out of accumulation time

What happens when you run out of time for storing hazardous waste? What if the nation simply lacks the necessary incineration capacity? A backlog of untreated waste is raising these very questions. And to stay in regulatory compliance, facilities may need to examine alternatives not usually considered. Recent EPA guidance highlights options available for generators and permitted facilities looking to extend their hazardous waste accumulation limits. READ MORE

PFAS, EPCRA, and SW-846

As the dangers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are further studied and congressional action intensifies, EPA regulatory and guidance actions are picking up steam. Effective July 6, 2021, three specific PFAS were added to EPCRA’s section 313 Toxics Release Inventory. [86 FR 29698, §372.65] To regulate these persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals, one must also be able to test for them. As such, EPA added test method 3512 to SW 846, used to detect certain PFAS in surface water, ground water, and wastewater. Method 3512 previously existed as an appendix to Method 8327, another test method for analyzing PFAS.

RCRA PFAS Petition

In June, the state of New Mexico petitioned EPA for the RCRA regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). While perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are the most well-known and studied PFAS, New Mexico believes the entire class of PFAS, potentially thousands of different chemicals, deserves regulation. The petition is only the latest in a growing line urging EPA to take regulatory action on these “forever chemicals”. Certain PFAS are already subject to EPCRA’s TRI reporting requirements, and the agency may soon craft regulations under CERCLA and the SDWA. Perhaps RCRA is right around the corner. READ MORE

Closure device clarity

With greater scrutiny from regulators, compliance with RCRA’s air emission standards is more important than ever. Consequently, EPA recognizes a need for additional guidance on which standards apply to closure devices found on hazardous waste management units. The language describing closure devices creates confusion on whether these devices are subject to Subpart BB or CC. New draft guidance explains the scope of these standards, and comments are being received until October 3, 2021. READ MORE

Requisite request: recycle batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are found in innumerable electronics used both at home and in business. Unfortunately, their reactive chemistry and improper management have caused hundreds of fires throughout the country. Recognizing the danger, EPA released a report on the importance of safely handling and recycling these hazardous wastes. Proper battery management allows for both the recovery of valuable materials and a reduced risk of bodily injury and property damage. READ MORE

Shipping state-specific wastes

The e-manifest system is not just the central repository for federally regulated hazardous waste shipment data. It also includes data on shipments of state-specific hazardous wastes. If the waste is required to be manifested, then the information finds its way into the system. It’s a challenge to remember all of those state hazardous wastes, and that’s where EPA comes in. A new agency website helps keep track of these unique wastes subject to the RCRA manifesting requirements. READ MORE

Fuel or waste?

What do demolition wood, scrap tires, and poultry litter have in common? They are all examples of nonhazardous secondary materials (NHSM). And if those NHSM are burned as a fuel, then whether or not they are a solid waste will determine which CAA standards apply. A new guide for making such a determination is now available from EPA. The agency walks through the considerations to be made by anyone trying to make NHSM fuel determinations. READ MORE

Decontaminate debris, LDR style

Treatment standards under the land disposal restrictions (LDRs) were developed with process wastes in mind, not hazardous debris. Fortunately, the alternative treatment standards for hazardous debris can help. Several options require treatment to a “clean debris surface,” allowing for small quantities of waste to remain. But just how much can remain? EPA cleans up the confusion on this, and other issues with debris on their LDR FAQ page.

Used oil container closure compliance

Hazardous waste containers must remain closed unless adding or removing waste. A good rule of thumb to meeting this closure requirement is to ensure the container is vapor tight and spill-proof. However, containers accumulating used oil under Part 279 are not required to comply with this standard. That said, used oil containers must still be in good condition and not leaking. This and other common used oil management questions are addressed on EPA’s used oil FAQ page.

Rulemaking dates extended

The Spring 2021 regulatory agenda is now available, and not much has changed in the last six months. A focus remains on regulating coal combustion residues, improving the e-manifest system, and regulating PFAS under CERCLA. READ MORE

D002 definition dabbling denied

In 2011, EPA received a petition to reevaluate RCRA’s corrosivity characteristic definition in §261.22. Two changes were requested: 1) lower the upper pH regulatory value from 12.5 to 11.5, and 2) expand the regulatory definition to include nonaqueous wastes. On June 15, 2021, the agency issued a final denial of this rulemaking petition. [86 FR 31622] While this concludes EPA’s reassessment of the corrosivity characteristic at the federal level, state waste regulations can be more stringent or broader in scope. This is particularly true of the corrosivity characteristic, as some states already regulate certain physically solid wastes as corrosive.

March e-manifest minutes

The e-manifest system is in the middle of some major changes: paper manifest submittals are no longer accepted, user fees are set to change on October 1, and exports will soon be integrated. EPA has published the minutes from its meeting with the e-manifest advisory board in March 2021, which addresses these issues and more. READ MORE

Permit appeals rule reversed

Executive orders from the new administration have resulted in the rescission or reconsideration of several recent EPA rules. Earlier this year, we saw changes to how agency guidance is managed. The latest rule reversal pertains to changes in the process for appealing environmental permits and the function of the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). Effective June 11, 2021, this rule is meant to retain the transparency, fairness, and finality of EAB decisions. READ MORE

New e-Manifest user fees

EPA has announced the updated e-manifest user fees for FY2022/23, effective October 1, 2021. Per-manifest fees will be $20 for image upload, $13 for data file plus image upload, and $8 for fully electronic submittal. These are essentially the same as the existing fees, although there will actually be a decrease of $1 for each data file plus image upload submitted. You note there is no FY2022/23 fee for paper copies mailed to the e-manifest system; as of June 30, 2021, those are no longer accepted. More information can be found on the agency’s e-manifest user fee website.

OIG inspects inspectors

When a hazardous waste land disposal unit closes, the facility owners/operators can’t just walk away. If hazardous waste is still in the closed unit, additional controls are needed for decades to come. EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report in March 2021 highlighting the agency’s gaps in monitoring such facilities and providing recommendations to ensure these units are adequately inspected.

Plug pulled on portal

EPA’s May 2021 administrative procedures rule has removed Part 2, Subpart D a mere seven months after its promulgation. Originally intended to improve transparency and public involvement, it was found to do just the opposite. Related to this, EPA has taken down the agency’s central guidance portal. Both of these actions are in response to E.O. 13992. READ MORE

Li battery booster: DOT download

As a waste management expert, you not only safely manage lithium batteries while at your facility but also correctly package, mark, and label them for transportation. In April, EPA and DOT teamed up to host a detailed webinar on lithium battery management, and a recording and presentation slides are available at that website. In addition, check out EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Web Academy, where you can find recordings of previous webinars. Topics include residential recycling, managing debris from natural disasters, and waste reduction modeling.

Environmental justice for tribal nations

Since the summer of 2020, EPA has been hosting the Tribal Waste Management Program Webinar Series. The series is a free resource designed to assist environmental staff operating on tribal lands. In May, a webinar was held on environmental justice (EJ) and how those seeking EJ grants can use EPA’s EJSCREEN tool. EJSCREEN is a web-based mapping and screening tool, combining publicly available environmental and demographic information with EJ indexes.

Paper manifests past prime

Paper manifests will not be accepted for processing in the e-manifest system after June 30, 2021. While the use of paper manifests is still commonplace, receiving facilities will need to convert them into an electronic format before submittal. This requirement can be met by submitting either an image upload into the system or a data file plus image upload. Of course, EPA strongly encourages the use of completely electronic manifests by all waste management entities: generators, transporters, and TSD facilities. More information on this and other e-manifest issues can be found on EPA’s e-manifest frequent questions website.

New PCB guidance

Although the production of PCBs has been banned since 1979, TSCA allows small quantities of PCBs to be inadvertently generated in certain manufacturing processes. EPA has set up a website providing regulatory and enforcement information on this topic. Additionally, PCB products were used extensively during construction and renovation activities from 1950 until 1979. The agency’s May 2021 fact sheet on PCBs in building materials discusses PCB material identification, testing, demolition, disposal, environmental contamination, and safe management of these wastes.

See More...