Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), solid waste generated from the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste remains hazardous waste unless excluded elsewhere in the regulations. This is known as the “derived-from” rule and is designed to ensure that wastes that are treated, but which may still pose a threat to human health or the environment, do not fall through the cracks of RCRA regulation.
The regulations covering this rule are found at 40 CFR 261.3(c)-(h).
The “derived-from” rule pertains to common wastes such as:
- Sludges that are produced in wastewater treatment units receiving hazardous waste;
- Spill residues of hazardous wastes;
- Ash from incinerating hazardous wastes; and
- The residue of any hazardous waste treated on site, that was accumulated in containers and tanks.
Listed Hazardous Wastes—F, K, P, and U Codes
Wastes that are produced as the result of the treatment, storage, or disposal of a listed hazardous waste will continue to be regulated as that listed waste code (F, K, P, or U).
Derived-from Rule Exclusions
There is an exception to the “derived-from” rule for listed hazardous wastes that are listed solely for the characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, or reactivity and that no longer exhibit these characteristics. You can tell a waste is listed solely for one of these characteristics because the waste will be accompanied by only the letter I, C, or R in parentheses when it appears on the list. On the F and K lists, these designations appear in the “Hazard Code” column. On the U and P lists, the letters I, C, or R appear in parentheses after the substance name.
The image above shows the U list. In this list, “Acetone” is followed by the letter “I” only. This means this waste is listed only because it displays the characteristic of ignitibility. If a given solid waste is listed for ignitability only, and after treating it you are left with a solid waste that is not ignitable, then the “derived-from” rule does not apply.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how the materials described above may be excluded from the “derived-from” rule.
Spent acetone is an F003 listed waste that is listed only because it is ignitable. If it is treated in a wastewater treatment unit and the semi-solid sludge produced from this treatment is not ignitable, the sludge is not considered an F003 hazardous waste.
Suppose some acetone product spills on the floor. Unused acetone is a U002 listed waste that is listed only because it is ignitable. If absorbent material is used to clean up the spill and the resulting semi-solid mixture no longer meets the definition of an ignitability waste at 40 CFR 261.21 (e.g., a liquid with a flash point <140°F), then the semi-solid mixture is not a U002 listed hazardous waste.
Other Excluded Wastes
There are also some specifically named solid wastes that are excluded from the “derived-from” rule even though they are generated from the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste, and they are:
- Waste pickle liquor sludge generated by lime stabilization of spent pickle liquor from the iron and steel industry;
- Wastes generated from burning certain fuels that are specified in 40 CFR 261.6(a)(3)(ii); and
- Residues resulting from high-temperature metals recovery processing of K061, K062, or F006 wastes in electric, plasma arc, and industrial furnaces (and other specified devices).
Characteristic Hazardous Wastes
Any solid waste generated from the treatment, storage, or disposal of a characteristic hazardous waste (i.e., ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity) is also a hazardous waste, unless it no longer exhibits a characteristic.
For example, let’s say some spent isopropyl alcohol is contaminated with silver and carries the D001 waste code for ignitability and the D011 waste code for the toxicity characteristic for silver. If the still bottoms are no longer ignitable, they will not carry the D001 waste code, but if they contain concentrated levels of silver, they will continue to carry the D011 waste code.
Land Disposal Restrictions (LDRs) Still Apply
Even if a material derived from hazardous waste is no longer hazardous, the treatment standards of the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDRs) may still apply. See 40 CFR 261.3(d)-(g). If a solid waste exhibits one or more of the hazardous waste characteristic(s) of ignitibility, corrosivity, or reactivity (ICR) at the point-of-generation, and is subsequently de-characterized, it is still subject to LDRs. On the other hand, if a solid waste did NOT exhibit a characteristic at the point-of-generation, then it would not be a hazardous waste or subject to LDRs, even if it were listed as an ICR waste. See 66 FR 27269; May 16, 2001
Exception to the “Derived-from” Rule
Materials reclaimed from both listed and characteristic hazardous wastes that are used beneficially are excepted from the “derived-from” rules, provided they are not burned or used in a manner constituting disposal (e.g., placed in or on the land). The EPA says, “These materials are viewed as products and, although they are “derived from” hazardous waste, are not hazardous waste when used in a manner consistent with a product (e.g., a hazardous waste sludge from a chemical company used in roofing materials).”
Capitalize on exclusions like the “derived-from” rule and learn more strategies to reduce your regulatory burden and streamline your operations at the Advanced Hazardous Waste Management Workshop
. Designed for experienced RCRA professionals, this workshop explores ways in which generators can take advantage of available exclusions in the hazardous waste management regulations, minimize the waste they generate, and improve their bottom line.