Introduction to Hazardous Waste Management, Part Four: Generator Pre-Transport and Manifest Requirements
Posted on April 21, 2022 | in Environmental Compliance
Welcome to Part Four of our ongoing series, “Introduction to Hazardous Waste Management.” In case you missed the previous installments, check out Part One to find out how to determine if your waste is hazardous, Part Two for a primer on how to determine your generator status and associated compliance obligations, and Part Three for an overview of managing hazardous wastes on-site.
Now, let’s talk about the basics of preparing your wastes for shipment, and requirements for shipping via manifest and documenting your shipments. We’ll also talk about a new EPA proposed rule that would revise aspects of the hazardous waste manifest form, as well integrate the electronic manifesting (e-Manifest) system with various reporting requirements.
Preparing Hazardous Waste for Transport
Generator responsibilities for preparing hazardous waste for transport dovetail with their responsibilities for managing on-site containers of waste. For example, they must ensure that they’ve properly packaged their wastes for shipping by securing them in containers (drums, cans, cylinders, tank cars, bulk containers, etc.) meeting all applicable Department of Transportation (DOT) shipping specifications listed in 49 CFR parts 173, 178 and 179.
Generators of hazardous wastes are also responsible for properly labeling and marking hazardous waste in accordance with 49 CFR 172 [40 CFR 262.31-.32]. When labeling the containers, the generator must also choose the proper UN identification number for the waste as well as the correct labels to identify the waste’s hazard class(es).
Remember, choosing the right containers and properly labeling them is not just a regulatory “box-checking” exercise. They are important ways that you as a generator should use to improve the likelihood that your wastes will reach their destination safely, and that you’ll avoid liability for potential spills of waste while they’re in transit.
Generator Manifest Requirements
Small Quantity Generator (SQG) and Large Quantity Generator (LQG) Manifest Requirements
40 CFR 262 Subpart B requires SQGs and LQGs to use the multiple copy hazardous waste manifest (EPA Form 8700-22) required by EPA and DOT. The screen capture below shows the top portion of the contents of Form 8700-22.
A generator must designate one TSDF on the manifest which is permitted to handle the waste described on the manifest. While not required to do so, a generator may also designate on the manifest one alternate facility which is permitted to handle this waste in the event that an emergency prevents delivery of the waste to the primary designated facility.
At the time your waste transport service picks up your hazardous waste containers from your site, you will need to have a company representative on hand to review the information on the manifest and sign the form. This individual should be someone who’s received appropriate site-specific hazardous waste training regarding your facility’s wastes, and who would therefore have the necessary background knowledge to review the manifest for accuracy. The transport service will then provide a copy of the manifest signed by the transportation company representative and your own company representative. You should store this copy with your records.
However, responsibilities for SQGs and LQGs don’t end there. If you’re an LQG and you don’t receive the final copy from the TSDF facility within 35 days, you’ll need to contact the TSDF to check the status of its shipment. If the final, signed manifest doesn’t arrive within 45 days, you’ll need to file an exception report with the federal EPA or state EPA with authority in your region. SQGs who do not receive a final, signed copy within 60 days must file an exception report [40 CFR 262.420].
Both LQGs and SQGs must also keep each manifest copy on file for three years from the date that the initial transporter accepted the waste for shipment. It’s a good idea to periodically review your manifests to ensure you have manifest copies and return receipts for all of your shipments going back three years, with no gaps. In the event you’re ever inspected by state or federal EPA for hazardous waste compliance, your inspectors will certainly be reviewing those records, and you’re at risk of a violation and potentially a fine if they find your records to be incomplete.
A Note on VSQGs
While the federal EPA does not require very small quantity generators (VSQGs) to ship their wastes via manifest, VSQGS should nonetheless strongly consider using manifests for a couple of key reasons.
First, VSQGs have an obligation to ensure that their wastes are transported to licensed treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs). It can be difficult to confirm that wastes have reached their destination at a TSDF with an established EPA identification number unless they’re shipping via manifest and tracking the return receipts. Additionally, any reputable and licensed TSDF is extremely unlikely to accept your wastes unless you’re shipping via manifest.
Second, VSQGSs, like all hazardous waste generators, have broad “cradle-to-grave” responsibilities for the wastes they generate. Using the uniform hazardous waste manifest gives VSQGS the level of documentation and oversight they need to be confident that containers of hazardous waste leaving their facility are shipped and properly delivered to TSDFs, and that they’ve reduced potential for liability for mishandling of their wastes.
EPA’s Electronic Manifesting (e-Manifest) System
The traditional paper copy manifesting system gets the job done, but the EPA had long known that the system came with costs and inefficiencies, and eventually began looking for ways to modernize the process for the internet age. The groundwork was set when Congress passed the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act in 2012, authorizing the EPA to implement a national electronic manifest system funded by user fees charged to those who use hazardous waste manifests to track off-site shipments of their wastes. Two subsequent EPA final rules established the legal and policy framework for the use of electronic manifests (in 2014) and the user fee structure (in 2017), and the new electronic manifest (e-Manifest) system went live in June 2018.
The EPA provides access to e-Manifest via the RCRAinfo page, shown in the screen capture below. First-time users will need to register by following the prompts at this page, and set up their user identification and password for the system.
Who Can Use e-Manifest?
EPA encourages the use of e-Manifest, though the statute allows optional use of paper manifests. and authorizes central collection of data from electronic and paper manifests. However, generators have a responsibility to determine if they can use the e-Manifest system for their own wastes sent to their specific TSDFs.
According to 40 CFR 262.24 (c), a hazardous waste generator may use an electronic manifest for the tracking of waste shipments involving any RCRA hazardous waste only if it is known at the time the manifest is originated that all waste handlers named on the manifest participate in the use of the electronic manifest. A generator may sign by hand and retain a paper copy of the manifest signed by hand by the initial transporter instead of executing the generator copy electronically. The transporter and subsequent waste handlers can then complete the remainder of the manifest copies electronically.
Benefits of e-Manifest System
According to EPA, the benefits of using the e-Manifest system include:
- Cost savings, due to reduction in the time burden involved in managing paper manifest copies;
- Accurate and more timely information on waste shipments;
- Rapid notification of discrepancies or other problems related to a particular shipment;
- Creation of a single hub for one-stop reporting of manifest data for use by EPA and states. State and tribal government users can retrieve copies and status information on any manifests associated with generators, transporters or TSDFs in their state or tribal area.
- Increased effectiveness of compliance monitoring of waste shipments by regulators; and
- The potential for integrating manifest reporting with the RCRA biennial reporting process and other federal and state information system
- Accessibility of hazardous waste shipment information to the general public. Manifest data is accessible to the general public 90 days after the designated TSDF receives the waste.
In summary, the e-Manifest system makes the entire process of tracking waste shipments easier for everyone, including waste generators, and increases visibility of waste data.
EPA’s 2022 Proposed Rule on e-Manifesting
As of this writing, EPA has recently initiated its third rulemaking (after the 2014 and 2017 final rules) affecting e-Manifesting by publishing a new proposed rule on April 1, 2022.
The proposed rule would potentially impact all parties in the hazardous waste transport chain, including transporters and TSDFs. For our purposes here, we’ll focus on how the proposed rule would affect generators.
A few of the biggest impacts would be:
- Revisions to the manifest form to improve compliance with import and export consents and tracking requirements. Proposed changes include adding an email address field to Item 5 of the generator block of the paper manifest, improvements to precision of waste data reported in the manifest fields at Items 11 (Total Quantity) and 12 (Units of Measure), and adding form codes to the “DESIGNATED FACILITY” field of the manifest, such as in Item 19.
- Proposed use of e-Manifest system to improve aspects of Exception Reports, Discrepancy Reports, and Unmanifested Waste Reports. For example, the proposed rule would enable generators to use the e-Manifest system to identify when reports may be required, allow electronic submittal of required reports in e-Manifest, and adjust timeframes to account for EPA’s Paper Processing Center.
- Potential future integration of the e-Manifest system with Biennial Reporting requirements. While EPA is not making any specific proposals on the form of that integration at this time, the Agency is requesting public comment on actions they may consider taking in the future to achieve this integration. Theoretically, this kind of integration would simplify generator reporting obligations by streamlining collection and formatting of the information they may be required to submit on the biennial report, but there may be some challenges to think through first. For example, DOT descriptions on manifests typically have less specificity and level of detail than waste descriptions on biennial reports, so an integration that simply pulled data from manifests might not satisfy regulatory requirements as things stand today.
You can read the proposed rule in its entirety here. EPA will be accepting public comments from stakeholders on the proposed rule until May 31, 2022.
Let’s take a moment to recap some of the key takeaways about pre-transport and manifesting requirements:
- RCRA requires generators to ensure that their wastes are in properly labeled DOT-compatible containers prior to shipment.
- Both LQGs and SQGs must ship their wastes using the multicopy hazardous waste manifest, Form 8700-2. Generators must designate one facility on the manifest that’s permitted to handle the waste described on the manifest. A generator may optionally designate on the manifest one alternate facility which is permitted to handle their waste in the event an emergency prevents delivery of the waste to the primary designated facility.
- Although not directly required to ship their wastes via manifest, VSQGs should nonetheless strongly consider doing so because it facilitates the oversight and documentation needed to ensure they’re meeting their cradle-to-grave responsibilities for their waste.
- The e-Manifest system greatly reduces the costs and time associated with management of hazardous wastes, and also provides greater visibility of information about hazardous waste shipments for generators, transporters and TSDFs. However, before using the e-Manifest system, a generator must verify that all waste handlers named on the manifest participate in the use of the electronic manifest.
- EPA has a current proposed rule that would affect several key areas of manifesting and the e-Manifest system, including revision of sections of the hazardous waste management form, and use of the e-Manifest system to manage and submit required reports including exception reports. Additionally, EPA is currently using the public comment period for the proposed rule to solicit stakeholder feedback about possible future integration of the e-Manifest system with biennial hazardous waste reporting.
Stay tuned for the next and final installment of this series, in which we’ll talk about best practices you can use for managing your waste, including waste minimization plans. We’ll also talk about how better waste management can help you transition from an environmental compliance focus to an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) focus.
In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Linkedin to get all of the latest updates about the worlds of EHS and ESG!
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