Written by Dawn DeVroom, IDR Environmental Services

While hazardous waste management often focuses on the legal disposal of dangerous substances, there’s another component that can be easily overlooked – hazardous waste records.

Under federal and state laws, hazardous waste generators have several recordkeeping and reporting responsibilities. Even if you legally dispose of the waste your company generates, Improper management of these records can lead to substantial fines.

As a hazardous waste generator, it’s important to not assume you have all your ducks in a row. Even major international companies slip up. The latest example of this is Tesla, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency penalized for a number of violations including failure to collect and keep required records.

How can you ensure your company is well organized and meeting all required hazardous waste regulations? An experienced hazardous waste company can help keep you on the right path toward regulatory compliance.

The Case Against Tesla

Even some of the largest companies in the world can find themselves in hot water when it comes to meeting environmental regulations. The latest example of this is Tesla, an American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Texas.

Earlier this year, Tesla agreed to pay a $275,000 settlement with the U.S. EPA for violating the Clean Air Act at its electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Fremont, California.

According to the EPA, Tesla violated regulations known as “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Surface Coating of Automobiles and Light-Duty Trucks” from 2016 through 2019. The EPA says the company:

  • Failed to develop and/or implement a work practice plan to minimize hazardous air pollutants emissions from the storage and mixing of materials used in vehicle coating operations
  • Failed to correctly perform required monthly emissions calculations needed to demonstrate that the facility’s coating operations complied with federal hazardous air pollutant standards
  • Failed to collect and keep all required records associated with the calculation of the hazardous air pollutants emission rate for the company’s coating operations

Many of the coating materials included pollutants like formaldehyde, ethylbenzene, naphthalene and xylene.

In May 2021, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District also fined Tesla $1 million for 33 violations, including failure to maintain records and failure to report information “in a timely manner.”

Reporting And Recordkeeping Standards

Reporting and recordkeeping standards involve the recordstesla fines hazardous waste generators must keep, as well as the length of time the generator must retain them.

Reporting Requirements

According to the Department of Toxic Substances Control, large quantity generators who ship hazardous waste off site to a Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF), or who treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste on site, may be required to submit a Biennial Report to the DTSC.

A Biennial Report compiles data collected from off-site shipments of waste and includes information such as the:

  • EPA ID number of the generator
  • Name and address of the generator
  • EPA ID number of each TSDF in the United States where the waste was sent
  • Quantity of each hazardous waste shipment sent
  • Manner in which the hazardous waste was or will be treated

Large quantity generators must submit a biennial report for activities that meet these criteria:

  • A site generated 1,000 kg or more of RCRA hazardous waste in any single month
  • A site generated 1 kg of RCRA acute hazardous waste in any single month or accumulated at any time
  • A site generated or accumulated at any time more than 100 kg of spill cleanup materials contaminated with RCRA acute hazardous waste

Large and small quantity generators may also be required to submit exception reports or additional reports if certain requirements may be met.

Recordkeeping Requirements

A hazardous waste generator must keep a signed copy of each manifest for at least three years, according to the DTSC. This time period begins with the date the initial transporter accepts the waste.

A generator must also keep a copy of every Biennial Report and Exception Report for three years. This time period ends three years from the due date of the report.

In addition to these manifest and report requirements, a hazardous waste generator must also keep all records that involve test results, waste analyses or “other determinations made in accordance with §66262.11 for at least three years,” according to the DTSC.

How A Hazardous Waste Disposal Company Can Help

Reporting and recordkeeping are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hazardous waste management laws. With several regulations that oversee proper hazardous waste disposal in place, it is critical that your company has a waste management plan in place that ensures you don’t face costly fines.

A reputable hazardous waste disposal company can help ensure your business remains compliant, even as federal and state waste disposal laws evolve and are updated.

The best disposal companies will assist with accurate recordkeeping, as well as:

  • Identify waste streams through profiling and testing
  • Develop site-specific plans that include training and emergency preparation
  • Transport waste to recycling and disposal sites
  • Prepare manifests and other state and federal paperwork
  • Provide proof that your waste streams were properly disposed of

A quality hazardous waste disposal company will also offer a hazardous waste walk-through, which will take a look at your current processes in place, such as reporting and recordkeeping procedures, waste storage, emergency readiness and employee training procedures.

It is your responsibility to ensure your company maintains the required paperwork required of hazardous waste generators. A disposal company can help ensure you have the right procedures in place to make this process as seamless as possible.