No Permit Needed: Treating D001 Ignitable Liquids On Site

Posted on 7/19/2018 by Roseanne Bottone

shutterstock_602753765edit.jpgThe hazardous waste characteristic of ignitability can be expressed in four different ways, as described at 40 CFR 261.21. Ignitable wastes can be liquid, non-liquid, compressed gases, or oxidizers.

Over the next few weeks here at Lion News, we’ll cover some advanced strategies for managing D001 wastes in a way that maximizes personnel safety and, when possible, minimizes compliance costs.

Most of us are already familiar with the first and most common type of ignitable hazardous waste:
a liquid with a flash point less than 60°C (140°F).

What you may not know is that it’s possible, in certain circumstances, to get ignitable liquids "out" of regulation under RCRA, at least in part.Read on to find out how to treat a liquid D001 waste without a RCRA permit.

Learn strategies to minimize waste, cut costs, and streamline compliance at the Advanced RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Workshop in Nashville on July 25, St. Louis on September 21, or Pittsburgh on October 19. Network and share best practices with other experienced hazardous waste managers from across the US!  See the full schedule at

A Liquid Hazardous Waste Must Be a Liquid

Any characteristic hazardous waste (D001–D043) that is treated and no longer exhibits a characteristic is no longer a hazardous waste. (See 40 CFR 261.3(d)(1).)

For a material to meet the first definition of D001 ignitability, it must be a liquid. If it is no longer a liquid that exhibits the ignitability characteristic, it will no longer be a liquid hazardous waste. (40 CFR 261.3(d)(1) and 261.3(g))

Simple enough. So, how do we turn a liquid into not-a-liquid? One way is to add absorbent until there is no remaining free liquid.

What About the Mixture Rule?

EPA's "mixture rule" at 40 CFR 261.3(a)(2)(iv) says that a solid waste is a hazardous waste if it is a mixture of solid waste and one or more hazardous wastes listed in 40 CFR 261 Subpart D.

While this sounds like it may prevent us from mixing our hazardous waste to achieve exclusion, look closely at the last 5 words of the rule - "listed in 40 CFR 261 Subpart D." What wastes are listed in Subpart D? The F, K, P, and U lists. The Subpart D lists cover many, many different types of hazardous waste, but not all of them.

Because it explicitly applies to  wastes listed in Subpart D, the mixture rule does not apply to a "characteristic-only" hazardous wastes like the D001 ignitable liquid waste we're dealing with in this example. If our D001 liquid waste was also listed on the F, K, P, or U lists, the material would remain a hazardous waste even if mixed with solid waste to eliminate the characteristic.

Exception: If a waste is listed in Subpart D solely because it exhibits one or more of the following hazardous waste characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, or reactivity, then it is no longer a hazardous waste if it no longer exhibits that characteristic.

US EPA’s Hazardous Waste Treatment Rules

Wait a second—isn’t adding absorbent to a hazardous waste considered “treatment”? Yes, it is treatment.

CFR-stack.JPGAt 40 CFR 260.10, EPA defines treatment as:
“[A]ny method, technique, or process, including neutralization, designed to change the physical, chemical, or biological character or composition of any hazardous waste so as to neutralize such waste, or so as to recover energy or material resources from the waste, or so as to render such waste non-hazardous, or less hazardous; safer to transport, store, or dispose of; or amenable for recovery, amenable for storage, or reduced in volume.”

At first glance, EPA’s definition of treatment is prohibitively broad. Generally, only sites with a RCRA permit may perform treatment activities (40 CFR 270.1(c)). That said, the RCRA regulations also provide for some exceptions and exclusions that can benefit generators and simplify RCRA compliance.  

Hazardous Waste Treatment (Without a Permit) 

Some say that when a door closes, a window opens. Federal regulations are like this sometimes, too. When the regulations tell you that you must or must not do something, the regs often provide exclusions and exceptions to the rule.

For example, 40 CFR 270.1(c)(2)(vii) says that persons adding absorbent material to waste in a container or adding waste to absorbent material in a container are excluded from RCRA permitting, provided that these actions occur at the time waste is first placed in the container. The person must comply with all other storage requirements, the rules at 40 CFR 264.17(b) regarding the prevention of adverse reactions and heat due to mixing, the rules at 40 CFR 264.171 regarding the condition of containers, and the regulations at 40 CFR 264.172 regarding compatibility.

This means that when you follow all of the requirements in the paragraph above, you can add absorbent material to your waste without a RCRA permit, therefore partially “un-regulating” your liquid waste.

Since the material is no longer a liquid that exhibits the D001 characteristic, it is no rcrac31ad2.JPGlonger a hazardous waste and is thus no longer subject to:
  • On-site management standards (e.g., satellite or 90-/180-day rules).
  • Hazardous waste manifesting rules for off-site shipments.

Remember: LDRs Still Apply!

This part is critical. While we’ve successfully found an exclusion from on-site management and manifest requirements under RCRA by adding absorbent to our waste, we must still ensure proper treatment of the mixture to meet LDR treatment standards per 40 CFR 268.

Even when wastes no longer exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic and are excluded, land disposal restrictions (LDRs) do still apply. (See 40 CFR 261.3(g).

Advanced RCRA Training for Experienced Pros

The Advanced RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Workshop brings together experienced environmental professionals to explore methods to minimize waste, control pollution, and find relief from burdensome RCRA requirements. Join your peers to discover new ways to cut costs without running afoul of the hazardous waste regulations and limit your exposure to liability under programs like CERCLA.

Don’t miss the Advanced RCRA workshop when it comes to Nashville,
Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia in 2018.

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Complete your RCRA training anytime, anywhere with convenient, interactive online courses. Train from home, from work, or from the road.

RCRA Hazardous Waste Management—Initial
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State hazardous waste courses are now available for personnel in California, Texas, New  York, and Washington State.

Tags: D001, EPA, hazardous waste, RCRA permit, RCRA treatment

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