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Cal DTSC Emergency Hazardous Waste Rule for Scrap Metal

Posted on 9/24/2021 by Roseanne Bottone

California DTSC will amend the state’s hazardous waste regulations to clarify when metal shredding facilities must comply with the Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL).
The emergency rulemaking serves two purposes. First, it aligns California DTSC’s definition of “scrap metal” with the Federal definition (40 CFR 261.1(c)) and removes redundant language.
Second, DTSC proposes to amend 22 CCR Section 66261.6 to clarify when scrap metal may be exempted from the regulatory requirements for hazardous waste as a “recyclable material.”
5-Day Public Notice (Comment Period closed September 7)

The emergency regulation is part of DTSC's effort to implement SB 1249. The state law revokes the conditional nonhazardous waste classifications (documented through "f letters") used by metal shredding facilities. The goal is to ensure that these facilities are thoroughly evaluated and regulated.  

Metal Shredders’ Misinterpretation

DTSC discovered that metal shredding facilities misinterpreted the regulations in the past. Many facilities mistakenly believed existing exclusions for scrap metal allowed them to conduct recycling activities without complying with the HWCL (i.e., 22 CCR Chapter 4.5).
A major impact of the rulemaking is to confirm that scrap metal becomes hazardous waste at the scrap metal processing facility (i.e., hammermill), and all activity is subject to hazardous waste management regulation. 

DTSC says:
"By clarifying that they conduct activities on hazardous waste and not scrap metal, metal shredding facilities will now unambiguously need to seek authorization from DTSC to operate." 

Why is Scrap Metal Hazardous Waste in California?

Metal shredder output contains a large volume of California-regulated hazardous waste including lead dust, copper, and zinc which are subject to the HWCL.
Facilities that generate hazardous waste in California must comply with the Federal RCRA regulations as well as the stricter requirements imposed by the State, including broader criteria for identifying hazardous waste.
The CA DTSC conducted a study of the hazardous waste management activities, current regulatory environmental oversight, and the history of releases, contamination, and enforcement actions at metal shredding facilities in California. In the executive summary of their Evaluation and Analysis of Metal Shredding Facilities and Metal Shredder Wastes, DTSC reported that:
"The study team found numerous examples of accidents, improper storage of hazardous wastes, soil contamination, and releases of hazardous wastes that impacted the environment and surrounding communities at metal shredding facilities."

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Tags: california hazardous waste, DTSC, hazardous waste management, RCRA compliance, Scrap metal recycling

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