February 15, 2017

New Guidance Discusses When Filter Canisters Are Subject to RCRA

Confirming previous guidance, EPA stated that filter canisters disconnected from manufacturing equipment do not enjoy the §261.4(c) manufacturing process unit (MPU) exemption. Instead, such disconnected filter canisters (assuming they are being discarded) are solid and potentially hazardous waste. [RO 14884] The four situations relevant to filters and filter canisters discussed in this document are:

  1. Filters/filter canisters associated with an operating MPU are not subject to RCRA regulation. The example EPA gave was a canister in use filtering sulfur from natural gas during downstream manufacturing operations.
  2. Filters/filter canisters associated with, and still connected to, an MPU are not subject to RCRA regulation for 90 days after the MPU ceases to be operated for manufacturing.
  3. Filters/filter canisters associated with, and still connected to, an MPU are subject to RCRA regulation on the 91st day after the MPU ceases to be operated for manufacturing. If the filter media within the canister is hazardous (e.g., for benzene in the above example), then the MPU exemption no longer protects the canister, and it is subject to all hazardous waste regulations on the 91st day. This means that a facility can be issued an NOV for out-of-service equipment from which contaminated filters have not been removed.
  4. Filters/filter canisters associated with, but disconnected from, an MPU are subject to RCRA regulation immediately upon disconnection. “Any hazardous waste within the disconnected canisters becomes subject to RCRA regulations, such as the obligation to make a hazardous waste determination and meet other applicable hazardous waste generator, transporter, and treatment, storage and disposal facility requirements, when the canister is disconnected.”

RO 14884 confirms May 1990 guidance stating that the §261.4(c) MPU exemption does not apply to heat exchangers that are disconnected and sent offsite for cleaning. [RO 13374]

 


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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.