Question of the Week: Determining Significant Waste Codes

Posted on 2/22/2011 by James Griffin

Q. When I send my hazardous waste to the treatment facility for disposal, they charge me separately for each waste code I report. Since I know some of the treatment standards overlap, is there anyway to avoid the expense and hassle of double-treating my hazardous waste?

A. There are different reasons for recording and communicating waste codes (e.g. manifests, LDRs, etc.) It is likely that you are dealing, primarily, with communicating waste codes for Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR treatment) per 40 CFR Part 268.

When you generate a hazardous waste, you must identify all possible waste codes that could apply to that waste [40 CFR 261.11]. Any hazardous waste will either be:

  1. Listed as a hazardous waste, F-, K-, P-, or U-codes,
  2. A hazardous waste by characteristic (D-codes), or
  3. Both a listed and characteristic waste.
The standards for determining and communicating the waste codes significant for LDR treatment are located at 40 CFR 268.9(b). When the waste is hazardous only by listing, you must ensure that the waste is treated prior to land disposal for all applicable listed waste code(s), according to the requirements in 40 CFR 268.40.

When the waste is hazardous only by characteristic, you must again ensure that the waste is treated prior to land disposal for all applicable characteristic waste codes, according to the requirements in 40 CFR 268.40. You may also have to identify any underlying hazardous characteristics that are “reasonably expected at the point of generation” [40 CFR 268.48].

Where it gets tricky is when a hazardous waste is both listed and exhibits one or more characteristics. According to 40 CFR 268.9(b): “Where a prohibited waste is both listed under 40 CFR part 261, subpart D and exhibits a characteristic under 40 CFR part 261, subpart C, the treatment standard for the waste code listed in 40 CFR part 261, subpart D [for the listing] will operate in lieu of the standard for the waste code under 40 CFR part 261, subpart C [the characteristics], provided that the treatment standard for the listed waste includes a treatment standard for the constituent that causes the waste to exhibit the characteristic. Otherwise, the waste must meet the treatment standards for all applicable listed and characteristic waste codes.”

This means that when the waste is hazardous by both listing and characteristic, the waste must always be treated to the standards for the listed code no matter what. However, if that treatment process includes a standard for the constituent that caused the hazardous characteristic then that characteristic is “not significant” for Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR), in other words you do not have to treat the hazardous waste for the characteristic waste code.

Waste codes are only significant, or not-significant, for LDR notification and treatment. You will still need to document all applicable waste codes for hazardous waste determination (40 CFR 262.40(c), biennial reporting (40 CFR 262.41), and possibly manifesting (40 CFR 262, Appendix).

Tags: disposal, hazardous waste, LDR, RCRA

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