Search

Do I Need a RCRA Permit to Neutralize a Waste?

Posted on 7/21/2021 by Roseanne Bottone

Settle an argument: An industrial facility generates many drums of corrosive hazardous waste (D002).

The facility’s Environmental Manager suggests neutralizing the waste before shipping it off site. The waste won’t be a hazardous waste or a DOT hazardous material once it’s neutralized, cutting disposal and shipping costs significantly.

In response to the suggestion, the Manager gets two pieces of conflicting information from her team:

Colleague A says:
"Neutralization is a form of hazardous waste treatment. We need a RCRA permit to treat hazardous waste.”

Colleague B says:
“The RCRA hazardous waste rules allow us to neutralize the waste without a permit.”

Who’s right? Does a generator need a RCRA permit to perform elementary neutralization?

Is Neutralization a Form of Treatment Under RCRA?

Elementary neutralization is a process by which an acid or base is added to a waste to render it chemical neutral, and it is a form of hazardous waste treatment. In fact, neutralization is explicitly named in the regulatory definition of treatment, which reads:

Treatment means a 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 the waste,
  • Recover energy or material resources from the waste,
  • Make the waste safer to transport, store, or dispose of,
  • Make the waste more amendable for recovery or storage, or
  • Reduce the volume of hazardous waste.
        (40 CFR 260.10)

Colleague A is correct that Part 270 of RCRA generally requires a facility to obtain a permit before treating hazardous waste, but there are exceptions—including one that covers elementary neutralization (40 CFR 270.1(c)(2)(v)).

May Generators Neutralize Waste On Site? 

When certain conditions are met, the RCRA regulations allow generators to neutralize a hazardous waste. The waste treatment process must be performed in an elementary neutralization unit that is:
  • Used to neutralize hazardous waste that is corrosive only; and 
  • Is a tank, tank system, container, transport vehicle, or vessel.
So the facility in our example may neutralize their D002 hazardous waste without obtaining a RCRA permit. Generators should keep in mind that neutralization can produce a hot, volatile reaction and should be performed only by properly trained personnel.

RCRA does not require the facility to neutralize the waste immediately, but they must do so within the accumulation time allowed by regulation (i.e., 90 or 180 days). In the meantime, the waste must be managed in compliance with all the standard container management rules, including dating and marking containers, keeping containers closed, and weekly inspections.

Elementary Neutralization and RCRA Generator Status

We mentioned two reasons why a facility would neutralize corrosive hazardous waste–to lower transportation costs and to render the waste non-hazardous.

Here’s a third reason: Hazardous waste managed immediately upon generation in elementary neutralization units is excepted from counting toward the facility’s generator status/category (40 CFR 262.13(c)(2)). That could mean a change from large to small quantity generator, or from small to very small quantity generator—a move that could unburden the site from compliance with some of the strict, detailed management standards in 40 CFR Part 262.

More about RCRA permits:  
Do We Need a RCRA Permit to Store Hazardous Waste?


 

Tags: hazardous waste management, hazardous waste treatment, RCRA

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The instructor was energetic and made learning fun compared to dry instructors from other training providers.

Andy D’Amato

International Trade Compliance Manager

The instructor kept the class engaged and made learning fun. There was a lot of information to cover but time flew by. I will definitely use Lion in the future!

Chelsea Minguela

Hazmat Shipping Professional

I really enjoy your workshops. Thank you for such a great program and all the help Lion has provided me over the years!

George Chatman

Hazardous Material Pharmacy Technician

The instructor created a great learning environment.

Avinash Thummadi

CAD & Environmental Manager

Our instructor was very dynamic and kept everyone's interest. Hazmat shipping can be a dry, complicated topic but I was engaged the entire time.

Kimberly Arnao

Senior Director of EH&S

The instructor did an excellent job presenting a very dry subject; keeping everyone interested and making it enjoyable.

Marc Bugg

Hazardous Waste Professional

Lion was very extensive. There was a lot of things that were covered that were actually pertaining to what I do and work with. Great Job. I will be coming back in three years!

Tony Petrik

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Given the choice, I would do all coursework this way. In-person courses go very fast without the opportunity to pause or repeat anything.

Ellen Pelton

Chemical Laboratory Manager

I like Lion's workshops the best because they really dig into the information you need to have when you leave the workshop.

Tom Bush, Jr.

EHS Manager

These are the best classes I attend each year. I always take something away and implement improvements at my sites.

Kim Racine

EH&S Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Find out what makes DOT hazmat training mandatory for employees who sign the hazardous waste manifest, a “dually regulated” document for tracking shipments.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.