Organic Peroxides are D001 Hazardous Waste [40 CFR 261.21]

In the July 14, 2006, Federal Register, EPA made several typographical and editorial corrections. One of them was to update the definition of the D001 ignitability characteristic at 40 CFR 261.21.

When the RCRA regulations were first published, the definition of ignitable hazardous waste (D001) included not only wastes with a flash point of less than 140 F, but also two DOT definitions: ignitable compressed gases and oxidizers, which at the time were at 49 CFR 173.300 and 173.151, respectively. Shortly thereafter, DOT moved and modified those definitions. EPA, however, did not modify the references in 40 CFR 261 accordingly.

EPA’s recently updated definition of ignitability incorporates the old version of the DOT definitions cited above, which is essentially the same as today's definitions, but slightly more complicated. The key difference, which EPA has stated was its intention all along, is that wastes that meet DOT’s definition of organic peroxide are oxidizers and therefore they are classified as D001.

At 40 CFR 261.21(a)(4)(i), EPA defines an oxidizer as a substance such as a chlorate, permanganate, inorganic peroxide, or a nitrate, that yields oxygen readily to stimulate the combustion of organic matter. In “Note 4” to this definition, the rule states that organic peroxide is a type of an oxidizer. EPA defines organic peroxide as:

"An organic compound containing the bivalent -O-O- structure and which may be considered a derivative of hydrogen peroxide where one or more of the hydrogen atoms has been replaced by organic radicals must be classed as an organic peroxide unless:

(A) The material meets the definition of a Class A explosive or a Class B explosive, as defined in 40 CFR 261.23(a)(8), in which case it must be classed as an explosive
(B) The material is forbidden to be offered for transportation according to 49 CFR 172.101 and 49 CFR 173.21
(C) It is determined that the predominant hazard of the material containing an organic peroxide is other than that of an organic peroxide
(D) According to data on file with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation, it has been determined that the material does not present a hazard in transportation"

Keep in mind that this change is a federal rulemaking. Check with your state to see if this rule change affects you. Some states adopt the EPA's definition of the characteristic of ignitability by reference; others will have to specifically adopt this rule change for it to take effect.

To learn more about how to properly classify and manage hazardous waste, attend Environmental Resource Center's Advanced Hazardous Waste Management Course or Hazardous Waste Management: the Complete Course.