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December 01, 2022
Compliance Tip: Hazardous waste and materials storage

Q. What are the potential regulatory compliance issues and EHS risks to consider if planning to use Conex boxes to store waste and hazardous materials?

A. The following are issues and considerations regarding the use of Conex boxes to store regulated hazardous wastes and hazardous materials at remote sites and parking lots on your property.

Regulatory Compliance Questions and Issues:

1. Is the entity using the Conex boxes a generator of the used materials listed in the question, or has it received the used materials from the generator and is therefore either (if the materials are hazardous wastes) a hazardous waste transporter or a treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF)? The answer is relevant to the entity’s regulatory responsibilities under appliable federal and state regulations. For example, if the entity is a transporter of hazardous waste, it’s possible that the Conex boxes would be considered a “transfer facility” that, under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, is defined as a temporary holding or storage area for wastes on the way to a TSDF. Unlike a TSDF, which would require a RCRA storage permit, a transfer facility is exempt from needing a permit provided that waste is held during the normal course of transportation and provided the waste is manifested, kept in Department of Transportation (DOT)-specified containers, and stored less than 10 days (40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 263.12). If the transfer facility conditions are not met, it’s possible that the Conex boxes could be considered a TSDF.

2. Several of these materials, such as used oil, antifreeze, and aerosol cans, are regulated by federal and/or state agencies. For example, although antifreeze is not specifically regulated under federal rules, some states, such as Wisconsin, have detailed “guidance” as to how antifreeze must be managed, whereas a few others, such as Michigan, allow it to be managed as a universal waste rather than a hazardous waste. Concerning used oil, although federally regulated, some states have additional and/or more stringent requirements for its management. Massachusetts and California, for example, define used oil as a hazardous waste that must, in many respects, be managed as such.

Substance Management Questions and Issues:

3. Storage: The safety data sheet (SDS) for each material to be stored in a Conex box should be evaluated to determine storage precaution requirements, the temperature and physical condition of the material that must be maintained, containment requirements, ventilation requirements, etc.

4.  Security: What precautions will be in place to ensure that nonentity personnel cannot access the materials at the remote sites and parking lots? For Conex boxes placed in a parking lot, what measures will be taken to protect them from a collision by a vehicle?

5. Temperature: What will protect the substances from atmospheric conditions such as extremes of heat and cold?

6. Incompatible materials: The storage of flammable materials, as well as those that may be incompatible, should be addressed. 

7. Fire protection: The Conex boxes will be inspected weekly, but what precautions can be taken to protect the substances from fire when the Conex boxes are unattended?

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