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March 22, 2017
Satellite accumulation area rules - Are they still the same?
By Elizabeth M Dickinson, JD, Senior Legal Editor - EHS

Yes …

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (Final Rule), which goes into effect at the federal level on May 30, 2017, adds many new provisions. However, the thrust of the Final Rule is to clarify existing provisions, including the requirements for satellite accumulation areas (SAAs).

Many generators of hazardous waste use SAAs at their sites because SAAs allow the generator to accumulate hazardous waste near the point of generation. For generators that generate and accumulate small amounts of hazardous waste in different areas of their facilities, this is a more efficient and safer way to handle hazardous waste. When a generator has accumulated 55 gallons (gal) of hazardous waste (or one quart of acute hazardous waste) in the SAA, the generator must then move the hazardous waste to the 90- or 180-day central accumulation area within 3 days. While the Final Rule has not changed this basic premise, it has tweaked it.

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And No …

A new location for the regulation

Under the old regulatory framework, the conditions for operating an SAA were located at 40 CFR 262.34(c), considered the “main” regulation applicable to hazardous waste generators. In the opinion of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this location of the SAA provisions, between the hazardous waste accumulation conditions for large quantity generators (LQGs) at 40 CFR 262.34(a) and those for small quantity generators (SQGs) at 40 CFR 262.34(d), created confusion as to whether the provisions applied to LQGs only or to both SQGs and LQGs.

In the Final Rule, the EPA moves the text of 40 CFR 262.34(c) into its own section at 40 CFR 262.15 and titles it ‘‘Satellite accumulation area regulations for small and large quantity generators.’’ To further clarify the applicability of the SAA provisions, and to distinguish SAAs from those locations where generators accumulate hazardous waste for 90 or 180 days, the Final Rule defines a new term ‘‘central accumulation area” (CAA) to describe the 90- or 180-day hazardous waste accumulation location.

Seven notable changes

In addition to a couple of minor changes, the Final Rule sets forth these seven more significant changes to the SAA requirements:

  1. SQGs and LQGs that accumulate hazardous waste in SAAs are now required to comply with the special requirements for incompatible wastes found at 40 CFR 265.177.
  2. The Final Rule now provides limited exceptions to the requirement that generators keep containers closed at all times (e.g., containers may be open when it is necessary either for the operation of equipment to which the SAA container is attached or to prevent dangerous situations, such as the buildup of extreme pressure or heat).
  3. When maximum volumes are reached in SAAs, the Final Rule clarifies that generators have three consecutive calendar days to either remove the hazardous waste from the SAA or come into compliance with the CAA regulations.
  4. Generators that accumulate acute hazardous waste in SAAs can choose between using a maximum accumulation volume (1 quart for liquids) or maximum accumulation weight (1 kilograms (kg) or 2.2 pounds (lb) for solids). For nonacute hazardous waste, 55 gal remain the only unit for measuring maximum accumulation limits in SAAs.
  5. The Final Rule clarifies the regulations for situations when the maximum volume (or weight) is exceeded in an SAA. Generators have the choice of either converting the SAA into a CAA or moving the “excess waste” to a CAA; an off-site designated facility; or to an on-site interim status or permitted treatment, storage, or disposal facility.
  6. Containers used in SAAs are subject to new marking and labeling standards that are identical to those for containers in CAAs.
  7. All SAAs operated by LQGs and SQGs must comply with the LQG or SQG requirements for preparedness, prevention, and emergency procedures.

What's next?

Although soon to be in effect at the federal level, the Final Rule changes to the SAA requirements will not be in effect in a state (other than Alaska and Iowa) until the state adopts the Final Rule. Each state will adopt the Final Rule provisions on their own schedule, with July 2019 being the farthest away deadline allowed by the EPA. So now might be a good time to familiarize yourself with the revised SAA provisions so that you’re ready to comply when your state adopts the New Rule.

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