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November 11, 2016
New generator rule = new labeling and marking requirements
By Elizabeth M Dickinson, JD, Senior Legal Editor - EHS

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (Rule), finalized on October 28, 2016, will require hazardous waste large quantity generators (LQGs) and small quantity generators (SQGs) to make many changes as to how they manage their hazardous waste. Because the current generator requirements will be in place in most states for months and months to come—that is, until a generator’s state adopts the new federal rules—generators have time to get acquainted with the new requirements.

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One change that will affect LQGs and SQGs in all stages of their waste accumulation process is the new rules for labeling and marking containers of hazardous waste. Labeling and marking rules for other hazardous waste management units—tanks, drip pads, and containment buildings—have also changed. These requirements were revised to more accurately indicate the hazards of the contents in the waste accumulation units.

The revisions also impact containers in satellite accumulation areas and containers and tanks in central accumulation areas. In addition, there’s a new marking requirement for containers transported off-site.

Pretransport marking

The Rule adds a pretransport marking requirement to the current rules that address marking containers of 119 gallons (gal) or less with very specific generator and manifest identification information as well as in accordance with applicable U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. The Rule requires generators to mark the applicable U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hazardous waste numbers (i.e., EPA hazardous waste codes) on each container before transporting them off-site.

Satellite accumulation area containers

For those containers holding in excess of the 55 gal and/or 1 quart or 1 kilogram (kg) limits in satellite accumulation areas, the current requirement that containers holding the excess accumulation be marked with the date the excess amount began accumulating will continue to be in effect. In addition, a container holding hazardous waste in a satellite accumulation area must be marked with:

  • The words “Hazardous Waste,” and
  • An indication of the hazards of the contents (e.g., applicable hazardous waste characteristics, hazard communication consistent with DOT labels or placards, a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hazard statement or pictogram, or a chemical hazard label consistent with the National Fire Protection Association code 704).

Although the proposed rule required generators to mark containers with additional words to identify the contents, that requirement was dropped from the final Rule.

Central accumulation area containers

Fortunately, the labeling requirements for containers in the satellite accumulation areas and for containers in the central accumulation area are identical with the additional requirement that containers in the generator’s central accumulation area be marked with the date upon which each period of accumulation begins. These marked dates must be clearly visible for inspection on each container.

Labeling for other units

Tanks and containment buildings must be marked or labelled by LQGs and SQGs with the words “Hazardous Waste.” For containment buildings, the words “Hazardous Waste” must be in a conspicuous place that’s easily visible to employees, visitors, emergency responders, waste handlers, and other persons on the generator’s site.

The Rule requires that inventory logs, monitoring equipment, or other effective means be used by generators to identify for the tank, containment building, or drip pad:

  • The associated hazards of the hazardous waste in the accumulation unit (although not required for drip pads), and
  • That the wastes gave been removed from the unit within the applicable time period

Generators must keep these inventory logs or records on-site and readily available for inspections (a slight change from the proposed rule requirement that they be kept in close proximity to the accumulation unit).

(In case you’re wondering, the Rule now gives SQGs the option of accumulating hazardous waste in containment buildings and on drip pads, provided certain conditions are met.)

That’s it?

Fortunately, the final Rule does not add marking and labeling requirements to those that were in the proposed rule last year. This is not to say that other proposed requirements that affect generators have not changed more significantly, as they have. More information about the final Rule can be found here.