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Alleged RCRA Violations Cost Company $2.7M+

Posted on 12/27/2023 by Nick Waldron

US EPA, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), and the State of Indiana contend that the environmental services company violated hazardous waste and used oil management requirements at facilities in Louisiana, Indiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

The settlement requires the facility to pay $1,162,500 in penalties and to halt the treatment, storage, and disposal of parts-washing solvents that qualify as hazardous wastes until the company obtains a hazardous waste permit authorizing it to do so. Compliance measures required by the settlement are estimated to cost at least $1,628,502.

Allegations and Requirements

A complaint filed by the Northern District of Illinois stated that the company failed to manage solvents as hazardous waste in compliance with hazardous waste management regulations.

The complaint states that the company transported hazardous waste without required hazardous waste manifests, stored hazardous waste at various company facilities without required permits, failed to make required hazardous waste determinations after mixing used solvents from different parts-washing customers, failed to comply with certain requirements for reducing air emissions from certain hazardous waste tanks and equipment, and failed to maintain adequate secondary containment for certain hazardous waste tanks.

Settlement Requirements:

  • Ensure solvents are acceptable for re-use without prior reclamation and that re-use is legitimate.
  • Develop sampling program to determine whether solvents exhibit hazardous waste characteristics.
  • Compliantly remove drums containing solvents that are determined to be hazardous waste.
  • Distribute educational materials to parts-washing customers.
  • Retain a third party to conduct audits to ensure future compliance.

Compliance measures specific to the company’s Indianapolis facility:

  • Apply for a RCRA permit.
  • Implement specified interim measures, including:
    • Frequent inspections of tanks and containers.
    • Elimination of open venting of tanks containing a used solvent.

The settlement will also prohibit gravity separation (removing water and solids while recovering the valuable solvent component) of a used solvent to meet re-use solvent customer product specifications or to otherwise render the material suitable for re-use.

When is a RCRA Permit Required? (And Conditions for Exemption)

40 CFR 270.1(c) clearly states: "RCRA requires a permit for the 'treatment,' 'storage,' and 'disposal' of any 'hazardous waste' as identified or listed in 40 CFR Part 261."

But hazardous waste generators who comply with all conditions for exemption (i.e., 40 CFR 262.14, 262.15, 262.16, and 262.17 as applicable) are not required to obtain a permit for treatment, storage, or disposal [40 CFR 270.1(c)(2)(i)]. These facilities follow less-stringent rules for generators depending on which generator category they qualify for.

When a facility does not meet conditional exemptions to be regulated as a Large, Small, or Very Small Quantity Generator (LQG; SQG; VSQG), it will be treated as a Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF). TSDFs are required to follow much more stringent regulations.

Because of this, non-exempt generators that are found to be out of compliance with RCRA standards face significantly more complicated, more expensive settlements that could be avoided by training for compliance and properly complying as a hazardous waste generating facility.

Example:
Federally, Small Quantity Generators are not required to provide annual RCRA training, but if an SQG fails to follow management standards in 40 CFR 262.16, they may be treated as a TSDF and cited for failure to obtain a RCRA permit, failure to provide annual RCRA training, failure to maintain a written contingency plan, and violations of other rules from which SQGs are conditionally exempt.

RCRA Training. Anytime, Anywhere.

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Tags: enforcement, EPA Enforcement, hazardous waste management, RCRA

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