What Training Do I Need to Manage Hazardous Waste from the Oil & Gas Industry in Texas?
Posted on 2/3/2017 by Anthony Cardno
If you manage hazardous waste in Texas, you’re already aware that the regulatory landscape is a bit more convoluted in the Lone Star State than elsewhere. The complex web of EPA and TCEQ requirements that affect you can make it difficult to determine which industry training requirements apply to your facility. In order to answer this question, we need to take a look at the regulatory jurisdictions of two different Texas agencies.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulates the management of hazardous waste in Texas. For the most part, TCEQ incorporates all of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hazardous waste regulations into Title 30 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC). But TCEQ also regulates a number of state-specific industrial solid wastes (Class 1, 2 or 3 ISW).
The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) has primacy over regulating the oil and gas industry. This mandate includes regulating wastes generated by the exploration, development and production of crude oil, natural gas or geothermal energy. The RRC also incorporates EPA’s hazardous waste regulations, via Statewide Rule 98 (Standards for Management of Hazardous Oil and Gas Waste) into Title 16 of the TAC.
Federal Exemption for E&P Wastes
Both agencies adopt the EPA exclusion at 40 CFR 261.4(b)(5), which exempts “drilling fluids, produced waters, and other wastes associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil, natural gas or geothermal energy” from being regulated as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). (Emphasis Lion’s.)
This is commonly called the “E&P Exemption.” It means that wastes generated by activities identified in the exclusion are excluded from the Federal definition of “hazardous waste.”
Read more: Understanding the RCRA Exclusion for Oil and Gas E&P
In their Interim Guidance on Statewide Rule 98, the RRC clarifies that to fall under the E&P Exemption, a waste must be uniquely associated with primary field operations. For natural gas production, that would be activities occurring at or near the wellhead, production facility or gas plant but prior to the gas being transferred to a carrier. For oil production, that would be activities at or near the wellhead, etc., but before the oil is transferred to a carrier. If there is no transfer to a carrier, primary field operations end at the last point of separation of impurities from the oil in the field.
“Non-Exempt” E&P Wastes
Which wastes generated by the oil and gas industry don’t qualify for the Federal exclusion?
Wastes not uniquely associated with primary field operations (for instance, unused fracturing fluids or acids, painting wastes, waste solvents, or caustic or acid cleaners) are considered “non-exempt” by the RRC.
It is the generator’s responsibility to then determine if the non-exempt wastes they generate meet the RCRA definition of “hazardous waste.” In Statewide Rule 98, the RRC adopts the Federal definition of hazardous waste, including all of the Federal lists (F,K,P and U) and characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity and toxicity). However, Statewide Rule 98 does not incorporate or reference the TCEQ ISW definitions.
RRC Training Requirements for Managing E&P Waste
In Statewide Rule 98, the RRC adopts all Federal hazardous waste management standards, including the training requirements.
The specifics of these training requirements depend on your generator status. Large Quantity Generators have an annual retraining requirement. Small Quantity Generators must assure that all hazardous waste employees are “thoroughly familiar with proper waste handling and emergency procedures.”
However, since Statewide Rule 98 does not incorporate any of TCEQ’s rules for managing ISW, generators of hazardous oil and gas wastes would not need to be trained on those ISW management standards.
Therefore, despite the unique rules that apply to hazardous and industrial waste generators in Texas, generators of hazardous oil and gas wastes in Texas really only need training to comply with the Federal RCRA regulations, dependent on the site’s generator status.
Stay up to speed with the latest requirements for hazardous and industrial waste generators in the Lone Star State! Master the unique, additional rules you must know to manage waste in Texas, including rules for industrial waste, STEERS reporting, and more, when Lion presents Federal and Texas hazardous waste training in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio this month!