Treatment of Hazardous Waste Without a Permit [40 CFR 270.1(c)(2)]

July 12, 2018
Although treatment of hazardous waste normally requires a RCRA permit, this is not always the case. According to 40 CFR 270.1(c), a permit is required for the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste identified or listed in 40 CFR 261. However, 40 CFR 270.1(c)(2) provides exclusions from the requirement to obtain a RCRA permit. Examples include:
  • Facilities used solely for the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste excluded from regulations under 40 CFR 261.4 or 14;
  • Totally enclosed treatment facilities as defined in 40 CFR 260.10;
  • Elementary neutralization units or wastewater treatment units as defined in 40 CFR 260.10;
  • Adding absorbent material to waste in a container or adding waste to absorbent material in a container—provided these actions occur when the waste is first placed in the container; and
  • Hazardous waste generators who accumulate hazardous waste on-site in compliance with all the conditions for exemption provided in 40 CFR 262.14, 262.15, 262.16, and 262.17
The regulations at 40 CFR 262.14, 262.16, and 262.17 refer to the generator requirements for managing hazardous waste for Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQG), Small Quantity Generators (SQG), and Large Quantity Generators (LQG) respectively. The regulations explain that provided you follow the applicable hazardous waste generator rules that apply to you, you are excluded from needing a permit to treat or store hazardous waste. According to 40 CFR 262.15, the same conditional exclusion applies to satellite accumulation areas.
In addition to the requirements cited above, both SQGs and LQGs must comply with the Land Disposal Restrictions. 40 CFR 268.7(a)(5) states, “[I]f a generator is managing and treating prohibited waste or contaminated soil in tanks, containers, or containment buildings regulated under 40 CFR 262.15, 262.16, and 262.17 to meet applicable LDR treatment standards found at 40 CFR 268.40, the generator must develop and follow a written waste analysis plan which describes the procedures they will carry out to comply with the treatment standards.”
Many of the treatment technologies at 40 CFR 268.42 do not require a permit—with the technologies that do require a RCRA permit usually involving combustion. Examples of the types of treatment that hazardous waste generators can perform without a RCRA permit, provided they meet their applicable generator requirements include:
  • DEACT – deactivate to remove the hazardous characteristics of a waste due to its ignitability, corrosivity, and/or reactivity
  • MACRO – macroencapsulate with surface coating materials such as polymeric organics (e.g., resins and plastics) or with a jacket of inert inorganic materials to substantially reduce surface exposure to potential leaching media
  • NEUTR – neutralize with the following reagents (or waste reagents) or combinations of reagents: (1) acids; (2) bases; or (3) water (including wastewaters) resulting in a pH > 2 but < 12.5 as measured in the aqueous residuals
  • POLYM – formation of complex high-molecular weight solids through polymerization of monomers in high-TOC D001 non-wastewaters which are chemical components in the manufacture of plastics
  • STABL – stabilization with the following reagents (or waste reagents) or combinations of reagents: (1) Portland cement; or (2) lime/pozzolans (e.g., fly ash and cement kiln dust)—this does not preclude the addition of reagents (e.g., iron salts, silicates, and clays) designed to enhance the set/cure time and/or compressive strength, or to overall reduce the leachability of the metal or inorganic
The exemptions from permitting discussed above apply to facilities in states that have adopted them. Check your state regulations to determine which exemptions are available to your facility.