August 14, 2018

New Requirements for Satellite Accumulation Containers

The 2016 generator improvements rule added significant regulatory requirements to the management of satellite accumulation containers. The table below compares those requirements with the 90-day container standards. As you can see, there are now fewer differences.

Federal Requirements for Satellite Accumulation Containers vs. 90-Day Containers


Satellite accumulation containers


Must be in good condition



Must be compatible with the hazardous waste in the container



Must be closed at all times except when adding or removing waste



Meeting the closed-container requirement

More flexibility2

Less flexibility2

Inspection requirement



Hazard marking requirement

“Hazardous waste” and an indication of the hazards of the contents

“Hazardous waste” and an indication of the hazards of the contents

Date marking requirement

On the date 55 gallons (or 1 quart/1 kg for acute wastes) is exceeded

On the date waste first goes in the container

Maximum length of storage


90 days

Maximum waste volume in storage

55 gallons (or 1 quart/1 kg for acute wastes)3


Personnel training required



Can treat hazardous waste in the unit



Special requirements for ignitable/reactive wastes



Special requirements for incompatible wastes



Must comply with Part 265, Subpart CC air emission standards



Must comply with preparedness, prevention, contingency plan, and emergency procedures in Part 262, Subpart M



1 SAA containers may also be open when consolidating waste and when venting the container is necessary (e.g., for proper equipment operation or to prevent dangerous situations). [§262.15(a)(4)]

2 Per RO 14826.

3 If the maximum waste volume/weight is exceeded, the excess must be dated and moved within three days. [§262.15(a)(6)] The accumulation limits for acute hazardous wastes are not intended to be additive; so, in cases where a generator has both liquid and solid acute hazardous waste accumulating in a satellite accumulation area, the 1-kg (2.2-lb) limit will apply. [81 FR 85765]

4 A simple reading of §262.15(a)(7), which requires SQGs to comply with emergency procedures in §262.16(b)(9) for their SAAs, will trigger personnel training requirements for SAAs at SQGs. This is true since the SQG personnel training requirements are in §262.16(b)(9)(iii). We think this is inadvertent on EPA’s part based on preamble language where EPA says it decided not to require training for staff at SAAs. “However, EPA would encourage all generators to take appropriate steps to ensure that all employees who work at areas where hazardous waste is accumulated, including at SAAs, or are otherwise involved in hazardous waste management receive sufficient training to ensure that they are familiar with proper handling and emergency procedures.” [81 FR 85797]

5 A satellite container holding hazardous waste that is incompatible with any waste or other materials accumulated nearby in other containers must be separated from the other materials or protected from them by any practical means. EPA mentioned two methods to achieve this compatibility requirement: 1) segregating incompatible wastes onto separate pallets and ensuring that incompatible wastes are separated by at least one pallet width in all directions, and 2) providing drip trays or other secondary containers for satellite containers. [81 FR 85764]

6 The preparedness, prevention, contingency plan, and emergency procedures of Part 262, Subpart M apply to those areas at an LQG facility where hazardous waste is generated (e.g., SAAs) as well as those areas where hazardous waste is accumulated onsite (e.g., 90-day areas). [§262.250]

Source: McCoy and Associates, Inc.; adapted from §§262.15 and 262.17(a)(1) and RO 14703, 14758.

Some in the regulated community have asked if a 90/180-day container could be used directly to accumulate small amounts of hazardous waste generated on a daily basis (instead of using a satellite container for this purpose). There is no reason why not, as long as all of the §§262.17/262.16 regs are met for the 90/180-day container, respectively. However, EPA has noted in RO 14826 that there is less flexibility in keeping a 90/180-day container closed compared to a satellite container.

Note that sometimes a satellite container can contain much more than 55 gallons of waste for a short period of time. For example, in a large chemical plant or refinery, a reactor might contain 50 cubic yards of catalyst. Hazardous spent catalyst is removed for disposal once every three years and is drained into two roll-off boxes. Because the satellite accumulation regulations don’t specify container sizes, the roll-off boxes can be considered to be satellite containers. [RO 11442] The regulations require that, as soon as more than 55 gallons of catalyst is drained to the first roll-off box, the current date be applied, and all of the catalyst needs to be moved within three days to 1) a 90/180-day accumulation area, 2) a permitted or interim status area or unit, or 3) offsite. Use of the satellite provisions under these circumstances was specifically addressed in the proposed satellite accumulation rule. [48 FR 120] However, EPA recommends that generators contact their state agency for guidance/agreement on how such occurrences should be handled. [RO 14029]


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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.