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December 01, 2014
Generator storage of used oil
By Elizabeth M Dickinson, JD, Senior Legal Editor - EHS

Who is a used oil generator?

Under the RCRA used oil regulations at 40 CFR 279, a used oil generator is “any person, by site, who produces used oil or causes used oil to become subject to regulation.”  Generators include all persons who produce used oil through commercial or industrial operations and vehicle services.

Used oil generators are not:

  • Household “do-it-yourselfer” used oil generators (i.e., generators of used oil from households).
  • Farmers who generate an average of 25 gallons or less per month of used oil from vehicles or machinery used on the farm in a calendar year.
  • Vessels at sea or at port. Used oil produced on vessels from normal shipboard operations must only be managed as used oil when it is transported ashore.
  • Mixtures of used oil and diesel fuel mixed by the used oil generator for use in the generator’s own vehicles are exempt from the used oil regulations once the used oil and diesel fuel have been mixed.  The used oil fuel is subject to used oil regulation before mixing.

Because the used oil standards have no exemption for generators based on used oil generation rate, generators that are conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs) in terms of hazardous waste generation are subject to the used oil regulations if they generate used oil.

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Storage requirements

Although used oil generators must comply with many used oil regulations, the most relevant, and somewhat confusing, concern storage of used oil

Storage units. The rules state that generators must not store used oil in units other than tanks, containers, or units regulated under 40 CFR 264 or 40 CFR 265 (Tanks include both aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) and underground storage tanks (USTs)).

As per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this does not mean that the ASTs or containers must meet the respective container and tank requirements of 40 CFR 264 or 40 CFR 265, just that storage in those regulated containers and tanks is allowed.

However, any other type of unit (e.g., a surface impoundment) used to store used oil must be a permitted hazardous waste unit. The determination as to which storage units must be used for mixtures of used oil and hazardous waste is based on whether the used oil mixture is to be managed as used oil or as hazardous waste.

These are the options under the generator used oil storage rules:

  • Used oil or used oil mixtures managed as used oil can be stored in tanks or containers that either are or are not regulated under 40 CFR 264 or 40 CFR 265.
  • Used oil mixtures managed as hazardous waste must be stored in tanks or containers that comply with 40 CFR 264 or 40 CFR 265.
  • Units other than tanks or containers that store used oil or used oil mixtures must be permitted under 40 CFR 270 and meet the specific standards of 40 CFR 264 or 40 CFR 265.

ASTs and containers. Containers and ASTs storing used oil must be free of visible spills or leaks, structural damage, and deterioration.  ASTs or containers must be in good condition and be properly labeled as “used oil.”  Fill pipes transferring used oil into USTs must be marked clearly as “used oil.”

USTs. USTs storing used oil must comply with the UST standards, including those at 40 CFR 280.

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