How to Manage Episodic Hazardous Waste [40 CFR 262]

February 15, 2018

How to Manage Episodic Hazardous Waste [40 CFR 262]

If your site is normally a very small quantity generator (VSQG) or a small quantity generator (SQG) of hazardous waste, you know that if you generate more that your category’s monthly limits, your site could be elevated to the next higher generator category. For information about the monthly limits, see Environmental Resource Center’s February 8, 2018, Reg of the Day™ on hazardous waste generator status.

Now, there’s a new option that could allow you to keep your prior generator status, if you have a one-time event that causes you to exceed your category’s threshold. EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule created a new 40 CFR 262, Subpart L, which establishes criteria for episodic generation of hazardous waste that will allow you to keep your initial generator status. An episodic event can be a planned event, like a chemical clean out, or an unplanned event, such as a spill.

Many of the episodic waste requirements are the same for SQGs and VSQGs that exceed their limits, but there are a few requirements that differ. SQGs and VSQGs must notify the EPA or their state at least 30 days prior to a planned event, and within 72 hours of an unplanned event. If the VSQG does not already have an EPA identification number, then one must be obtained per the notification requirements at 40 CFR 262.18.

Episodic hazardous waste may be accumulated in containers or tanks that are labeled with the words “episodic hazardous waste” and an indication of the hazards, as well as the date the episodic event began. When managing episodic waste in tanks, you may document the time limit using methods such as inventory logs or monitoring equipment. The date is required because regardless of your generator status or event type, the episodic waste must be shipped off-site using a hazardous waste manifest within 60 days from the start of the event.

You must keep the following records for at least three years:

  • Beginning and end dates of the episodic event
  • Description of the event
  • Types and quantities of episodic hazardous waste
  • Description of how the hazardous waste was managed and the name of the RCRA-designated facility that received the hazardous waste
  • Name(s) of the transporters
  • An approval letter if a generator petitioned for a second event in the calendar year

The container and tank management rules for SQGs and VSQGs differ, as summarized below.

VSQG requirements:

  • Containers and tanks must be in good condition and compatible with the waste
  • Containers must be kept closed unless waste is being added or removed
  • When episodic waste is stored in tanks, there must be procedures in place to prevent overflow, and the tanks must be inspected daily

SQG requirements:

  • Containers must be in good condition, compatible with the waste, closed, and inspected weekly
  • Hazardous wastes must be compatible with other wastes, residues, or materials that they are stored with; otherwise, they must be separated or protected by means such as dikes, berms, walls, or other devices
  • Nothing may be placed in a tank that could cause the tank to rupture, corrode, or leak
  • Uncovered tanks must have at least 2 feet of freeboard—the distance from the waste level to the top of the tank—unless the tank is equipped with a containment structure
  • If waste is continuously fed into a tank, the tank must be equipped with a means to stop the inflow
  • Discharge control equipment, monitoring equipment, and waste levels must be inspected daily, and construction materials and surrounding areas must be inspected weekly

SQGs with ignitable or reactive wastes must take precautions to ensure wastes do not ignite or react.