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Is Hazardous Waste Management Part of the Circular Economy?

Written by Supreet Kaur, ALTECH Environmental Consulting Ltd. and John Nicholson, Editor, Hazmat Management Magazine

There is a growing movement from every sector of the economy that recognizes that there needs to be a focus on a sustainable future by minimizing waste and maintaining natural resources. With the increase in industrialization, the main problem in the management of hazardous waste is that it poses a harmful impact on environment and human health.

The term “circular economy” is a new buzzword and has been identified as part of society’s move toward a sustainable future with the inclusion of the 3Rs and extended producer responsibility.  Can you apply circular economy practices to the management of hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste is the potentially dangerous by-product of a wide range of activities, including manufacturing, farming, water treatment systems, construction, automotive garages, laboratories, hospitals, and other industries. The waste contains chemicals, heavy metals, radiation, pathogens, or other materials. These wide range of toxic chemicals affecting environment and human health and involving several routes of exposure, depending on types of waste. Some toxins, such as mercury and lead persist in the environment for many years and accumulate over time.

Hazardous waste disposal is a challenge for many businesses and industries. Almost every size of industry, and some commercial enterprises, generate hazardous waste. The need for efficient hazardous waste management and disposal is important in order to minimize the risks to lives and the environment.

It has been demonstrated that it is possible to recycle some specific hazardous waste streams.  In fact, recycling is best way to manage hazardous waste to minimize the amount of hazardous waste.

The circular economy is aimed at continual use of resources and eliminating waste. Many industries are focusing on the circular economy to reduce their carbon footprints, reusing their products, and cost-effective methods of waste management.

At the point when waste is reused, everybody benefits in view of lower energy use, diminished ozone depleting substance, characteristic asset preservation, lower removal costs and, frequently, more effective creation by utilizing reused materials.

An example of an important industrial chemicals that eventually becomes a hazardous waste are natural and inorganic solvents. Solvents are incorporated in paints and cements, cleaners and degreasers, drugs and many other products. Solvents are also used in a wide assortment of businesses including hardware, car, drug and paint manufacturers. Many companies are require the safe management of their spent solvents.

Chemical Recycling in Canada

Fielding Environmental, headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, is an example of a chemical recycler in Canada. It has been serving industry clients for over 55 years, specializing in the recovery of solvents, glycols and refrigerants from automotive, coating and paint, printing and pharmaceutical industries. It is the most accredited solvent recycler in Canada. Moreover, it is largest Canadian recycler company in recycling waste ethylene and waste propylene glycol.

Fielding has technologies which not only collect waste from several industries but also extract the best from these resources. They recover all the positive qualities in it and transform waste into new products. Fielding is able recycle waste solvents to a purity that allows the same organization to reuse it without limitations. If a customer prefers not to take back a recycled solvent, Fielding uses it as a feedstock in the synthesis of new products that is sold nationally as well as internationally.

The company not only focuses on waste management but mainly works on waste optimization. Waste optimization is to change the waste into new product or use it as fuel. “If we want to build circular economy, we have to change the waste paradigm”, Ellen McGregor, CEO of Fielding environmental.

If any solvent is unsuitable for recovery, Fielding utilizes it as a fuel. In this way, all incoming waste is either recycled or has its energy value recovered (sometimes referred to as the 4th R – reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover [energy]). Fielding believes this is the best approach to managing incoming hazardous waste.

“We need to redefine the 3R (reduce, recycle, reuse) waste management hierarchy. A hierarchy put disposal and incineration in the same pyramid.  We need to break these things apart.  We need to include energy recovery us the pyramid.” Ms. McGregor added.

Ms. McGregor stated that all levels of government have a role to play in encouraging the 3Rs with respect to hazardous waste and in respecting the important role of hazardous waste companies in communities.  “Government has to play role in whole notion of procurement. There must be X-percentage of recycling components in products manufactured. Also, government has to ensure that companies in circular economy are welcomed in community. Recyclers need to be in urban areas so they have access to quality roads and other facilities,” She added.

“Fielding is all about the waste optimization we are trying that our material does not find their way to our soil, air and water,” Ms. McGregor said.  “98% of our business serves the circular economy.”

Emergency Preparedness and Prevention under the U.S. Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

Written by Ryan W. Trail, Williams Mullen

Generators of hazardous waste have long understood the importance of emergency preparedness and prevention to regulatory compliance and facility safety.  Contingency planning and coordination with emergency service providers have been requirements of United States Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations for many years.  For states that have adopted the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR), however, new and more stringent requirements for emergency preparedness and prevention now apply.  These states include Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as 28 other states.  All authorized states are required to adopt most aspects of the HWGIR, including those aspects discussed below, but many have not yet done so.

Under the old regulations, generators of hazardous waste (both small and large quantity) had to make arrangements with local emergency response entities, which may be called upon in the event of a release, fire, or explosion involving hazardous waste at the facility.  Facilities were required to make the emergency responders familiar with the layout of the site, the risks associated with the type(s) of hazardous waste onsite, the locations where employees would likely be throughout the site, and possible evacuation routes.  While not specified in the regulations, many facilities accomplished this by inviting local emergency response personnel to tour the facility.

Under the HWGIR, generators must still make arrangements with emergency response personnel. However, the associated recordkeeping requirements have changed.  Previously, there was no affirmative duty to document the arrangements.  Generators who were unable to make the necessary arrangements were required to document this shortcoming, but otherwise no recordkeeping obligation existed.  The HWGIR added a requirement that the generator must keep documentation of the fact that it made arrangements with local emergency responders.  The arrangements must be noted in the facility’s operating record.

Hazardous waste contingency plans are another essential element of emergency preparedness and prevention under both the prior regulations and the HWGIR.  A contingency plan ensures facility and emergency response personnel have complete and accurate information to respond safely and efficiently to an emergency involving hazardous waste.

The HWGIR created new obligations for facilities with hazardous waste continency plans.  One significant update is the requirement to produce a Quick Reference Guide as part of the contingency plan.  The Quick Reference Guide is intended to summarize the broader contingency plan and must include eight elements essential for local responders when an emergency occurs:

  1. Types/names of hazardous wastes and the hazard associated with each;
  2. Estimated maximum amount of each hazardous waste that may be present;
  3. Identification of hazardous wastes where exposure would require unique or special medical treatment;
  4. Map of the facility showing where hazardous wastes are generated, accumulated and treated and routes for accessing these wastes;
  5. Street map of the facility in relation to surrounding businesses, schools and residential areas for evacuation purposes;
  6. Locations of water supply (e.g., fire hydrant and its flow rate);
  7. Identification of on-site notification systems (e.g., fire alarm, smoke alarms); and
  8. Name of the emergency coordinator(s) and 7/24-hour emergency telephone number(s) or, in the case of a facility where an emergency coordinator is on duty continuously, the emergency telephone number for the emergency coordinator.

A facility that became a large quantity generator after the date the HWGIR became effective in its state must submit a Quick Reference Guide of its contingency plan to local emergency responders at the time it becomes a large quantity generator.  However, for large quantity generators in existence on the effective date of the HWGIR in their state, the Quick Reference Guide need only be submitted when the contingency plan is next amended.  A facility is required to amend its contingency plan if any of the following occur:

  • Applicable regulations are revised;
  • The plan fails in an emergency;
  • The facility changes—in its design, construction, operation, maintenance, or other circumstances—in a way that materially increases the potential for fires, explosions, or releases of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents, or changes the response necessary in an emergency;
  • The list of emergency coordinators changes; or
  • The list of emergency equipment changes.

Violations for inaccurate, incomplete or deficient hazardous waste contingency plans are common among RCRA enforcement actions.  With the HWGIR now in effect in many states, facilities may soon be amending their contingency plans.  New requirements for documenting arrangements with emergency responders and creating and maintaining a Quick Reference Guide could easily be overlooked.  It is important for hazardous waste generators to review emergency preparedness and prevention requirements of the HWGIR carefully to ensure continued compliance.

Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule81 Fed. Reg. 85732 (Nov. 28, 2016)

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About the Author

Ryan Trail represents companies facing complex environmental regulatory issues in the industrial, manufacturing, real estate and banking industries. He helps companies maintain compliance with constantly evolving environmental laws and regulations, and he counsels landowners, potential purchasers and lenders on environmental liabilities related to contaminated real estate. Ryan also helps clients obtain and comply with numerous environmental permits, including industrial wastewater discharge permits, stormwater permits and air permits.

Hazardous Waste Enforcement: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Hospital Enter into Consent Agreement

Written by Walter Wright, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Spectrum Health Hospitals (“Spectrum”) entered into an October 29th Consent Agreement and Final Order (“CAFO”) addressing alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) hazardous waste regulations. See Docket No. RCRA-05-2021-0003.

The CAFO provides that Spectrum operates a facility (“Facility”) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Facility is stated to include actions or processes causing the production of hazardous waste as that term is defined under 40 C.F.R. § 260.10. Therefore, Spectrum is stated to be a generator of hazardous waste under the relevant regulations.

The Facility is stated to have during the 2019 calendar year generated 1,000 kilograms or greater of hazardous waste, or generated 1 kilogram or greater of acute hazardous waste in some calendar months (qualifying it as a large quantity generator) which it shipped off-site to a treatment storage or disposal facility.

EPA is stated to have provided Spectrum the identification of potential RCRA violations. The Facility is stated to have engaged with EPA to expeditiously assess the matter and agrees to the entry of the CAFO.

The alleged violations include:

  • Notification of Change of Hazardous Waste Activity (failure to submit for the 2019 calendar year a notification of the change of the Facility’s type of hazardous waste activity to Large Quantity Generator status)
  • Annual Reporting (failure to prepare and submit a biennial report by March 1, 2020)

The CAFO requires that Spectrum file with the Michigan environmental agency an updated Notification of RCRA Subtitle C Activities and a Biennial Hazardous Waste Report covering the 2019 calendar year.

Spectrum neither admits nor denies the factual allegations in the CAFO.

A civil penalty of $11,471 is assessed.

A copy of the CAFO can be downloaded here.


About the Author

Walter Wright has more than 30 years of experience in environmental, energy (petroleum marketing), and water law.  His expertise includes counseling clients on issues involving environmental permits, compliance strategies, enforcement defense, property redevelopment issues, environmental impact statements, and procurement/management of water rights. He routinely advises developers, lenders, petroleum marketers, and others about effective strategies for structuring real estate and corporate transactions to address environmental financial risks.

Ontario: Discussion paper on modernizing hazardous waste reporting

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) recently announced that it received 76 comments on its “Modernizing Hazardous Waste Reporting in Ontario” discussion paper.

The MECP made changes to the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act (RRCEA), and the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) in Fall 2019, which allow the RPRA to provide digital reporting services, fee setting and collection for a wider range of waste and resource recovery programs.

The MECP issued a written letter of direction instructing the RPRA to prepare to deliver a digital reporting service for the Hazardous Waste program. The new hazardous waste digital reporting service would align with the open for business red tape reduction strategy by making it easier for the regulated community to track and report on waste.

Comments contributed to the proposed regulatory amendments and new proposed regulation and the MECP will continue to consider these comments as they take steps to update the Registration Guidance Manual for Generators of Liquid Industrial and Hazardous Waste and transition to the new digital reporting service.

Proposed Regulatory Changes

1. Amend Regulation 347 under the EPA to transition the delivery of hazardous waste digital reporting services to the RPRA

A. Transition delivery and operation of the hazardous waste digital reporting service

The MECP is proposing to amend Regulation 347 under the EPA to require the regulated community (including waste generators, carriers and receivers) to report waste management information to the RPRA instead of to the MECP, as they currently do. This would enable the RPRA to deliver and operate the hazardous waste digital reporting service, including collecting reports and fees from the regulated community.

B. Change registration and reporting requirements to support electronic service delivery

The amendments would also include changes to registration and reporting requirements to support a fully electronic reporting service. The new digital reporting service is intended to replace www.hwin.ca and paper document submissions.

Annual registration

The MECP is proposing to remove the annual registration renewal requirement (currently between January 1st to February 15th) and only collect information from generators at the time the business has a waste management activity to report (i.e. onsite storage/disposal/processing, or offsite movement of subject waste).

This would mean that businesses would complete an initial waste management activity report when they are reporting their first activity (using the new registry for the first time).

To ensure ongoing accuracy with facility, contact and payment information, the RPRA would require that businesses review and update their initially reported information when they are ready to report their first waste management activity after 365 days from the last time they reviewed and confirmed this information.

Reporting requirements

The MECP is proposing to amend Regulation 347 to provide more clarity about what waste management activities need to be reported to the RPRA and when they need to be reported. Reportable activities include both onsite and offsite management of subject waste and would remain the same. Reporting requirements for the Hazardous Waste program would be consolidated into one section.

The following activities would continue to be reportable waste management activities under the Hazardous Waste program:

  • Offsite management:
    • prior to completing the first off-site shipment of a subject waste
  • Onsite management:
    • within 90 days of generating and storing a subject waste where such waste is to be temporarily stored for more than 90 days and less than two years
    • prior to processing a subject waste onsite with the applicable Environmental Compliance Approval
    • prior to disposing of a subject waste onsite with the applicable approvals
    • prior to storing a subject waste for longer than two years with a valid Environmental Compliance Approval

Businesses that generate subject waste would be required to report their activities on, or prior to, the date that the activity takes place or within 90 days of generating or temporarily storing the subject waste if no other waste management activity has taken place. No generator of subject waste would be permitted to store subject waste for a period of greater than 90 days without reporting an activity to the RPRA. No generator would be permitted to manage such waste without reporting the activity to the RPRA.

In the near term, the ministry’s approach is to ensure that the proposed amendments would support the continued use of paper manifesting as an alternative to electronic reporting through the RPRA’s Registry, in a manner similar to that currently provided for under Regulation 347. Such reporting would continue to be provided directly to the ministry (director).

Report Completion

The MECP is proposing to amend Regulation 347 to clarify that reporting information would not be accepted in the new hazardous waste digital reporting service unless:

  • The entire waste management activity report is completed in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Regulation.
  • Any applicable fee payable by the generator is paid by or on behalf of the business.

This is intended to ensure that all members of the regulated community provide accurate information, on a timely basis and that they are paying for the subject waste that they generate in a timely manner.

Delegating Authority

The MECP is proposing that the new hazardous waste digital reporting service would allow delegates to register, report, and pay fees on behalf of generators. The generator would remain responsible for the subject waste that they generate and the information that is reported on their behalf. The RPRA would be responsible for ensuring confidential business information remains protected. The MECP is proposing to amend Regulation 347 to include a definition for ‘Delegate’ that would clarify this role.

The ability to delegate authority would provide flexibility for businesses (waste generators) to comply with the new hazardous waste digital reporting service, and ensure that the most accessible, knowledgeable and capable individuals are able to act on behalf of a business, should it be needed.

Paper-based reporting

The rules for paper-based reporting would remain the same in Regulation 347 because there is still a possibility that paper documents could be used in certain circumstances. In situations where paper manifests are used, businesses would continue to be required to ensure their manifest travels with the waste and applicable filing requirements are met with the ministry.

C. General housekeeping amendments to provide more clarity

The MECP is proposing to amend Regulation 347 to make various minor changes to provide more clarity and ensure consistency with other regulations.

Align with Federal regulatory phrases

Aligning with Federal regulatory phrases under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act(TDGA) would make it easier for businesses to learn and comply with both federal and provincial rules.

  • Align with the Federal phrasing in the TDGA by replacing “packaged” to “means of containment”.
  • The word “issued” should be removed when referencing TDGA manifests – because TDGA no longer “issues” manifests.
Definitions

Changes are needed to some existing definitions to provide more clarity for the regulated community.

  • The ‘field operation’ definition would be amended to clarify that specific medical clinics (blood donation/vaccinations and flu clinics) are included in the definition. This would reduce burden as these sites will not need to register and manifest at every site.
  • The ‘empty pesticide container’ definition would be updated to match the definition in Pesticides Act to help clarify and align with existing requirements.
  • The ‘reactive waste’ definition would be updated to correct a grammatical error and make it clear that the definition of reactive waste contains an independent list of criteria and not a multi-checklist of requirements. For example, if the waste meets any one criterion in the list, then it meets the reactive waste definition.
  • Both the ‘ignitable waste’ and ‘reactive waste’ definitions would be updated to align with the actual federal titles.

Some new definitions (i.e. RPRA, Registrar, Registry) would be needed so that the RPRA can deliver and operate the new hazardous waste digital reporting service. These definitions would have the same meaning as in the RRCEA. Other defined terms may also be required or desirable.

2. Create a new regulation under the RRCEA to carry over fee exemptions for certain activities related to hazardous waste – the RPRA would be required to consider the exemptions when setting program cost recovery fees.

The MECP is proposing a new regulation under the RRCEA that would carry over fee exemptions for certain activities related to hazardous waste from Regulation 347. The RPRA would be required to consider these exemptions, which would be based on the current exemptions when setting fees to recover the full cost of the Hazardous Waste program.

All fee setting references in Regulation 347 would be revoked when the new hazardous waste digital reporting service is implemented because the RPRA would have the responsibility to set and collect fees. The RPRA would be required to consult with stakeholders prior to establishing or amending fees for 45 days and post these fees on their website.

Read about and comment on the related proposed new regulation under the RRCEA.

Maintain government oversight for the hazardous waste program

Government would continue to play an important and on-going role in protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario, and the environment. With respect to the Hazardous Waste program, the ministry would maintain compliance and enforcement, and program and policy oversight activities.

The RPRA would be responsible for operating the hazardous waste digital reporting service to ensure reports are complete and related fees are collected. The RPRA would also notify the ministry of any suspected non-compliant activities. All incidents of non-compliance with program requirements would continue to be followed-up on by the ministry.

The ministry would continue to ensure all generators, carriers, and receivers are complying with requirements under the EPA and Regulation 347 to safely store, transport, process, and manage subject waste in Ontario. The ministry would continue to do this by conducting compliance inspections and following up on reported incidents of improper management of waste. The ministry would also continue to enforce program requirements through investigations and prosecutions.

Benefits of the new digital reporting service

A new digital reporting service for the Hazardous Waste program, would make reporting simpler, faster and more cost-effective. This change would also help us to meet our goals to:

  • Go digital – Implementing a modern digital reporting service that replaces the existing paper-based manifest program would improve our existing service and knowledge base, making it easier to report activities related to subject waste (i.e. hazardous waste and liquid industrial waste as defined in Regulation 347).
  • Hold polluters accountable – Implementing a modern digital reporting service would allow for more effective and timely compliance monitoring and enforcement actions.

Improved electronic data tracking and reporting would provide the regulated community and the ministry with an important set of tools that reduce administrative burden, saving time and money. For example, the service would:

  • Reduce unnecessary manual data entry.
  • Reduce the amount of time and money businesses spend preparing and mailing paperwork to the ministry, correcting administrative errors on paper, or searching for missing paperwork.
  • Provide the ministry with more accurate and timely information to inform decision making and policy development.
  • Allow the ministry to focus on risk-based compliance and enforcement to ensure subject waste is appropriately managed.

This new hazardous waste digital reporting service would align with Ontario’s Digital Service mandate by eliminating outdated approaches to processes, such as reporting using the existing online system (i.e. Hazardous Waste Information Network – HWIN) and using the more burdensome paper-based submission processes (e.g. paper manifests) that prevent the delivery of people-centered services.

The new hazardous waste digital reporting service would align with the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan by modernizing the way that the regulated community tracks and reports on subject waste (i.e. hazardous waste and liquid industrial waste as defined in Regulation 347 of the EPA). A better digital reporting service will enable more efficient and timely compliance monitoring and enforcement actions, which would provide assurance for Ontarians that polluters are held accountable, and subject waste is being appropriately and safely managed.

 

CarMax Settles Lawsuit related to Unlawful Handling and Disposal of Hazardous Materials

Seventeen District Attorney’s in California recently settled an environmental protection action against CarMax Auto Superstores California, LLC. The settlement was based on the unlawful handling and disposal of various hazardous materials and hazardous wastes. The action was filed in Orange County Superior Court.

Waste inspections conducted at various CarMax locations in the seventeen Counties uncovered systemic violations of the management and disposal of hazardous waste items and confidential customer information.

“Today’s settlement is a win for the environment,” stated Alameda District Attorney Nancy O’Malley in a news release. “I want to make it very clear to any business operating in Alameda County and the state of California: there is no excuse for improper disposal of hazardous waste. You put us all at risk when you pollute our soil and our waterways. The state as well as local district attorneys will continue to work together to investigate and bring to justice businesses that ignore our important environmental protection laws.”

Nancy E. O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney

CarMax Auto Superstores California, LLC. is an automotive retailer that operates more than 190 dealerships in at least 28 states, including California. In the ordinary course of business, CarMax handles, transports, stores, manages, uses and disposes of hazardous materials. Additionally, CarMax generates regulated quantities of hazardous waste from its automotive inspection, service and repair departments. Numerous inspections by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control along with local environmental regulators found that CarMax facilities were out of compliance with the hazardous materials and hazardous waste laws.

District Attorney Investigators from several counties conducted undercover inspections of CarMax’s trash containers, which revealed the illegal disposal of hazardous auto body sanding dust, sanding pads, automotive paints, clear coats, solvents, non-empty aerosols, other hazardous substances used during the auto body repair process, and confidential customer information.

In accordance with the Hazardous Waste Control Law and Hazardous Materials Release Response Plans and Inventory Law, the stipulated judgment mandates training, reporting and compliance with the regulations on hazardous materials, and hazardous wastes. The settlement totaling $ 1,600,000 requires CarMax to pay $1,000,000 in civil penalties and $300,000 for investigative costs. CarMax will also make an additional payment of $300,000 to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California. CarMax was cooperative throughout the investigation and implemented training and compliance programs at each of its facilities.

The case was brought in conjunction with the District Attorney’s offices of Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Fresno, Stanislaus, Kern, Ventura, Sacramento, Placer, San Diego, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties, where CarMax facilities are located.

Posted on Jun 11, 2020

Crystal Geyser Gushes $5 Million in Hazardous Waste Fines

Written by Dawn DeVroom, IDR Environmental Services

The recent federal case against the company that bottles Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water proves that the improper handling of hazardous waste can be costly.

Recently, CG Roxane pled guilty in U.S. District Court to unlawful storage of hazardous waste and unlawful transportation of hazardous material. The plea agreement to the two counts came with a $5 million criminal fine.

The charges stemmed from allegations that over the last 15 years, CG Roxane has dumped wastewater contaminated with arsenic into a man-made pond at the company’s Olancha, California, facility. Samples taken by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board revealed arsenic levels were eight times higher than legally allowed.

This case underscores the importance of proper identification, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. It also stresses the consequences of not working with the right certified company to ensure your business is meeting all state and federal regulations. Not doing so can result in substantial fines and negative publicity that can have a disastrous effect on your business.

Improper Waste Disposal Can Be Costly

hazardous wasteFailure to manage hazardous waste streams according to state and federal guidelines can bring unwanted consequences for both the environment and your company.

As CG Roxane discovered, costly criminal fines often accompany cases in which companies are found guilty of improper hazardous waste management. Two other companies may find themselves in trouble from this case as well. CG Roxane hired United Pumping Services Inc. and United Storm Water Inc. to transport and treat the wastewater. Both could face fines of up to $8 million if found guilty for their role in the case.

Other multimillion-dollar companies have faced similar consequences. Companies like FedEx, Rite Aid and Walmart have been fined millions of dollars over the past few years for improper waste management practices. Walmart, in particular, agreed to pay more than $81 million after pleading guilty in 2013 to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act.

In addition to fines, improper waste disposal can be a nightmare for a company’s public image, and worse, become a risk to public safety. Spills, fires, explosions and exposure to toxic chemicals can stem from the mishandling of hazardous waste.

How To Ensure Proper Waste Management

It is critical for hazardous waste generators to ensure compliance with regulations by providing ongoing training opportunities for employees and by working with an experienced hazardous waste disposal company.

The onus falls on you to ensure any hazardous waste you generate is disposed of properly. That responsibility does not end once your waste is removed from company property. Under the Resource and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), you are legally and financially responsible for the appropriate treatment and proper disposal of that waste … from cradle to grave.

Choosing the wrong vendor can prove costly, too.

So, how do you properly vet a company for the best business practices and avoid the nightmare scenarios described above?

1. Begin with a thorough background check of a vendor.

In addition to checking state and federal licenses, set up an interview with the vendor. Ask questions such as:

  • Do you have a Dun & Bradstreet report or a bank letter of credit?
  • Do you meet minimum insurance requirements and have coverage for accidents?
  • Do you have adequate personnel that are properly trained and certified?
  • Can you provide a statement of qualifications (SOQ)?
  • How do you deal with unknown chemicals?
  • Are you legally permitted for the transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste materials?
  • Can you provide a list of references on past related projects?

More ideas for questions to ask a vendor can be found in our article, What Manufacturers Must Know About Hazardous Waste Disposal.

2. Confirm the experience of any vendor being considered.

A hazardous waste generalist, for example, is used to working in different environments and has a broad base of experience working with different toxic chemicals.

Check to make sure the vendor includes these services:

  • Identification of waste streams by profiling and testing them
  • Development of site-specific plans, including training and emergency preparation
  • Transportation to recycling and disposal sites
  • Manifest preparation and any other paperwork that must be completed

3. Look for a certified hazardous waste disposal company that is consultative.

In other words, look for a company that offers a hazardous waste walk-through program.

Areas of focus should include:

  • Waste manifesting
  • Hazardous waste procedures
  • Waste storage evaluation
  • Emergency readiness
  • Hazardous waste evaluation
  • Employee training procedures

A waste walk-through program will help you stay atop any regulatory changes at the local, state and federal levels.

Better Safe Than Sorry

The improper handling of hazardous waste can have devastating effects on the environment, community and your business.

Many companies that do not take the proper precautions to ensure the waste they generate is properly disposed of find themselves tangled up in a legal mess for years. At the end of that mess is rarely a positive outcome for the company.

Working with a certified hazardous waste disposal service will help you avoid costly fines and a tarnished public image, as well as allow you to be assured that the hazardous waste your company generates is being transported and disposed of safely and legally.


About the Author

Dawn DeVroom is the CFO at IDR Environmental Services based in California. The company specializes in hazardous waste disposal.

Hazardous Waste Enforcement: U.S. EPA and Electronics Recycling Facility Enter into Consent Agreement

Written by Walter Wright Jr.Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and AERC Acquisition Corporation dba AERC Recycling Solutions (“AERC”) entered into a February 25th Consent Agreement (“CA”) addressing alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) regulations (which the State of Virginia has adopted). See Docket No. RCRA-03-2020-0070.

The CA provides that AERC performs electronics and universal recycling at a facility (“Facility”) in Richmond, Virginia.

The Facility is described as consisting of 40,000 square feet of building space that has been in operation as an electronics recycler since 2013. The Facility is stated to have begun recycling waste lamps in 2014.

AERC is stated to have submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (“VDEQ”) May 6, 2014, and May 30, 2017, notifications indicating the Facility is a small quantity generator of hazardous waste at the Facility. Such notices are also stated to have indicated the Facility was a large quantity handler of universal waste along with being a transporter and a transfer facility.

The Facility is stated to not have a permit for the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste.

An inspector from EPA is stated to have undertaken a Compliance Evaluation Inspection (“CEI”) of the Facility on August 22, 2017. The purpose of the CEI was stated to be the examination of the Facility’s compliance with Subtitle C of RCRA and associated Virginia regulations.

EPA is stated to have sent an information request letter to AERC to acquire additional information. AERC responded to the request in a letter dated September 16, 2019.

A Request to Show Cause was also provided to AERC to which EPA and AERC met to discuss alleged violations.

The CA alleges the following violations have occurred at the Facility:

  • Operating a treatment, storage, and disposal facility without a permit or interim status
  • Failure to label or mark clearly a number of containers of hazardous waste lamps with the prescribed words
  • Boxes stored in a manner that prevented the inspector from observing whether they were properly labeled and dated
  • Failure to mark containers of waste lamps with the date upon which each period of accumulation began
  • Failure to mark with the date upon which accumulation began, or otherwise track accumulation start date for certain containers of hazardous waste lamps
  • Failure to maintain a tracking system documenting the length of time the containers are accumulated on site
  • Failure to meet certain requirements of the Generator Accumulation Exemption
  • Failure to keep containers storing waste lamps closed except when it is necessary to add or remove waste
  • Failure to minimize risk of release, and failure to immediately contain all releases of waste lamps

The CA assesses a civil penalty of $10,000.

The CA also provides that AERC will within 90 days of the effective date of the document conduct an electronics recycling event within and in coordination with the City of Richmond, Virginia. The cost of such event will be no less than $40,000.

A copy of the CA can be downloaded here.


About the Author

Walter Wright has more than 30 years of experience in environmental, energy (petroleum marketing), and water law.  His expertise includes counseling clients on issues involving environmental permits, compliance strategies, enforcement defense, property redevelopment issues, environmental impact statements, and procurement/management of water rights. He routinely advises developers, lenders, petroleum marketers, and others about effective strategies for structuring real estate and corporate transactions to address environmental financial risks.

Water company pleads guilty to hazardous waste violations

As reported by the Associated Press, A California-based water company recently pleaded guilty to illegally storing and transporting hazardous waste and agreed to a $5 million fine.  The company produces Crystal Geyser bottled water.

The hazardous waste was generated at the company from the sand filters used to remove arsenic out the spring water at the CG Roxane LLC’s facility in Owens Valley.  When the sand filters were back washed with sodium solution, thousands of gallons of arsenic-contaminated water was generated.  The company entered the pleas to one count of unlawful storage of hazardous waste and one count of unlawful transportation of hazardous material.  The  company was accused of discharging the wastewater into a man-made pond over the course of approximately 15 years.

Pond sampling by local water quality officials in 2013 found arsenic concentrations above the hazardous waste limit, as did subsequent sampling by state authorities and the company.  State officials instructed the company to remove the pond.  The two companies hired to manage the wastewater were not informed the wastwater was considered hazardous material, resulting in 23,000 gallons (87,064 litres) being discharged into a sewer without proper treatment.

 

Ontario: Wind up of Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program

On November 21, the Ontario Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) closed a 45-day consultation period on Stewardship Ontario’s proposed Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) Program Wind-Up Plan. RPRA held two webinars and five in-person sessions across the Province to solicit feedback from interested stakeholders. The Authority has been directed to approve the proposed Wind-Up Plan no later than December 31, 2019.

The MHSW Program allows Ontario residents to safely dispose of household products that require special handling, such as single-use batteries and propane tanks. Industry stewardship organizations are responsible for recovering additional hazardous waste products, including automotive materials; paints and coatings; pesticides, solvents and fertilizers; and proprietary carbon dioxide cylinders.

Background

In April 2018, the then Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change directed the wind up of the MHSW Program on December 31, 2020 as per the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016. Following wind up, hazardous or special materials will transition to the new, mandatory individual producer responsibility (IPR) framework under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.

In December 2018, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) amended the timeline for the wind up of the single-use batteries component of the MHSW Program to June 30, 2020.

In July 2019, the Minister issued new directions including extending the timeline to wind up the MHSW Program to June 30, 2021; the Batteries Program wind up remains June 30, 2020.

Stewardship Ontario submitted its proposed MHSW Wind-Up Plan to the Authority by the September 30, 2019 deadline set by the Minister. As part of the wind-up process, the Minister directed the Authority to consult on the proposed plan before considering approval. As directed by the Minister, the Authority anticipates its approval of the plan by the end of the year.

MHSW Program wind up

Until the wind-up date, the MHSW Program will continue to operate without disruption. This includes the operation of the industry stewardship plans managed by the Automotive Materials Stewardship, Product Care Association, and SodaStream.

Single Use Batteries

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has directed Stewardship Ontario to wind up the program for single-use batteries on June 30, 2020. This change will allow for a coordinated policy approach with the wind up of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program.

 

 

 

Researchers Perfect Nanotechnology Tool for Studies of Nuclear Waste Storage

Researchers at the University of Guelph (U of G) recently published an article in Nature Scientific Reports in which they describe the first every use of antimatter to investigate processes connected to potential long-term storage of nuclear waste.  The team studied radiation chemistry and electronic structure of materials at scales smaller than nanometres.

The U of G team worked with collaborators at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and utilized the TRIUMF particle accelerator in Vancouver.  Based on these first-ever measurements at the accelerator, the team able to to show that their system is a proven tool that will enable radiation studies of material to be used to store nuclear waste.

“This system can now be applied along with other measurements to determine and help to potentially design the best material for containers and barriers in nuclear waste management”, said the U of G professor Khashayar Ghandi, the lead author of the research paper.

Currently, used nuclear fuel bundles – still highly radioactive — are held in vaults in temporary storage.  Long-term, experts aim to use deep geological repositories to permanently entomb the material. Buried in rock formations hundreds of metres underground, the fuel containers would be held in engineered and natural barriers such as clays to shield people and the environment from radiation. It takes almost 100,000 years for radioactivity from nuclear waste to return to the level of natural uranium in the ground.

The researchers also discovered the intriguing properties of clays that may make them useful in other industries. Clays may serve as catalysts to change chemicals from one form to another – a benefit for petrochemical companies making various products from oil. Other industries might use clays to capture global-warming gases such as carbon dioxide and use those gases to make new products.

The research may ultimately help in designing safer underground vaults for permanent storage of radioactive waste.  Other applications of the nanotechnology tool include new ways of generating and storing hydrogen, and technologies for capturing and reusing greenhouse gases.