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EPA Proposed Rule to Revise Hazardous Waste Generator Regulations

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) is proposing to revise the hazardous waste generator regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to improve compliance and thereby enhance protection of human health and the environment. Specifically, EPA proposes to revise certain components of the hazardous waste generator regulatory program; address gaps in the regulations; provide greater flexibility for hazardous waste generators to manage their hazardous waste in a cost-effective and protective manner; reorganize the hazardous waste generator regulations to make them more user-friendly and thus improve their usability by the regulated community; and make technical corrections and conforming changes to address inadvertent errors, remove obsolete references to programs that no longer exist, and improve the readability of the regulations.

These proposed changes are both a result of EPA's experience in implementing and evaluating the hazardous waste generator program over the last 30 years, as well as a response to concerns and issues identified by the states and regulated community.

Does this action apply to me?

Entities potentially affected by this action include between 353,000 and 543,000 industrial entities that generate hazardous waste regulated under the RCRA Subtitle C regulations. Of this universe, between 293,000 and 470,000 are conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs) that will only be affected if they choose to take advantage of two voluntary programs being proposed. Entities potentially affected by this proposed rule include practically every industrial sector, including printing, petroleum refining, chemical manufacturing, plastics and resin manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, paint and coatings, iron and steelmaking, secondary smelting and refining, metal manufacturing, electroplating, circuit board manufacturing, and automobile manufacturing, among other industries.

As discussed in section XVIII, the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for this action, available in the docket for this action, estimates the future annualized cost to industry to comply with the proposed requirements is between $6.2 and $17.4 million (at a 7% discount rate). The annualized benefits for entities opting to take advantage of two voluntary programs in the proposed rule (e.g., consolidation of CESQG waste by large quantity generators (LQGs) under the same ownership, and generators who change regulatory status episodically) is between $6.2 and $12.2 million (at a 7% discount rate) resulting in a net annualized cost of between $0.1 million and $5.2 million.Show citation box

The proposed Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule is expected to yield a variety of benefits as generators change several of their waste management practices to comply with the proposed regulations. These benefits reflect the rule's focus on enhancing protection of human health and the environment while improving the efficiency of the RCRA hazardous waste generator standards. Ideally, the Agency would prefer to quantify and monetize the rule's total benefits. However, only some categories of benefits are quantifiable. For the majority of benefits, sufficient data are not available to support a detailed quantitative analysis. For example, the added flexibility from allowing a large quantity generator accumulating ignitable or reactive hazardous waste to obtain a waiver from the local fire department for 50-foot property line requirement at 40 CFR 265.176 (provided other safety requirements are met) is difficult to quantify. In addition, quantifying the benefits associated with emergency response due to changes in container labeling would require data on the annual number of emergencies at generator sites, the current risks associated with these incidents, the extent to which more detailed labeling would affect the procedures of emergency responders, and the reduction in risk associated with these changes. Detailed data on these items are not readily available. In this and in similar cases, the benefits are described qualitatively.

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