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Editor’s Note: Welcome to part 7 in our series about the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). During this series, we’ll guide you through proper hazardous waste handling so you stay compliant and safe.
When the Environmental Protection Agency created the hazardous waste generator rules in the 1980s, Small and Large Quantity Generators and hazardous waste Transportation, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) were required to register with the EPA and obtain an EPA Identification Number.
For most Small Quantity Generators (SQGs), this was the only notification the EPA required from them. For Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) and TSDFs, however, that notification was only the beginning: they were also required to submit biennial reports by March 1 of each even-numbered year.
Biennial reports are the EPA’s way of keeping track of the number of LQGs and TSDFs, as well as the types and volumes of hazardous wastes being generated and managed throughout the United States. But because SQGs weren’t required to file biennial reports over the past 30 years, information about the actual number of SQGs and the volumes and types of wastes being generated could only be roughly estimated from information the EPA was able to pull from the data supplied by TSDFs.
SQG facilities are also not required to notify the EPA if they close their facility, nor are they required to notify them of changes to their waste streams — unless, of course, those changes cause them to become an LQG or TSDF. This added to the uncertainty about the true number and locations of hazardous waste generators, as well as the types and volumes of wastes they were generating.
The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvement Rule published in November 2016 amended the recordkeeping requirements for SQG generators. The changes and new requirements (outlined below) will help the EPA keep a better tally on facilities’ generator statuses and the types and volumes of wastes being generated.
Each of the following must obtain an EPA Identification Number using Form 8700-12: Hazardous waste generators; large quantity handlers of universal wastes; facilities managing hazardous secondary materials; and transporters, processors, re-refiners and marketers of used oil and off-specification used oil burners. This is a multi-purpose form that is also used by LQGs and others required to submit biennial reports and other forms of notification.
By March 1 of each even-numbered year, LQGs must submit their biennial report using Form 8700-12. This also serves as their re-notification of waste generator activities [40 CFR 262.18(d)(2)]. If a LQG chooses to close their facility, they must notify the EPA no later than 30 days prior to closure, using the same form [40 CFR 262.17(a)(8)(ii)].
Starting in 2021, SQGs must re-notify the EPA of their waste generator activities using Form 8700-12. They must then re-notify EPA every four years thereafter using the same form. Notifications must be made by September 1 of each year in which re-notifications are required [40 CFR 262.18(d)(1)]. If an SQG experiences an episodic event, they must notify EPA using Form 8700-12 no later than 30 calendar days prior to a planned event or within 72 hours of an unplanned event.
Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) who experience episodic events must obtain an EPA identification number, if they do not already have one, and notify EPA using Form 8700-12 no later than 30 calendar days prior to a planned event or within 72 hours of an unplanned event.
In addition to keeping track of hazardous waste in the United States, reporting helps the EPA to identify areas where rules may be unclear. Collecting information from generators helps to identify issues so that the EPA can make changes to clarify those rules or improve them so that they will be more efficient and effective.
Up next in the RCRA 101 Series, we’ll do a deep dive into waste profiles. Check it out here.