When Excess Hazardous Waste Contributes to Large Volume Designations: Managing Episodic Events

Producers of hazardous waste are broken down into three categories of waste generator status. We broke down these categories and their stipulations to define what constitutes a  small quantity vs large quantity generator in a recent article.

While the different categories are clear, the higher hazardous waste producers have a much higher level of compliance responsibility. 

Since the status of a generator is determined by the amount of hazardous waste or acute hazardous waste generated per month, it’s in the best interest of VSQGs and SQGs to avoid hitting their limit and moving up in production status. 

Single Events Threatening Generator Status

Smaller quantity generators want to protect their generator status. But what if the lower status is threatened by a one-off event that raises the generated amount of hazardous waste? 

These events can raise generated waste above the respective thresholds for only one month per year. This is called an episodic event

The EPA issued a regulatory option in 2016 that allows VSQGs and SQGs to retain their lower generator status when an episodic event temporarily results in the generation of an amount of hazardous waste that exceeds the monthly limits for those categories. 

This is allowed once per calendar year and must be reported appropriately to maintain generator status.

Second Event Per Year Threatening Generator Status

VSQGs and SQGs may petition the EPA to retain their status if a second episodic event occurs within the same calendar year. 

Individual states may have different regulatory requirements. It’s always best to check with your local authorities to determine your exact responsibilities.

Petitioning the EPA for a Second (Planned) Episodic Event

A generator may petition for a second one-off event in the same calendar year without altering their generator status. The petition must provide details of the event and the amount of time needed for management. 

General Requirements:

  • Time to manage can not exceed 60 days
  • Previous event and how the generator complied

The EPA must approve the second event before it happens. In addition, the EPA will not approve a petition for the same type of episodic event that occurred previously in the same calendar year. 

In short, this means that episodic events must be one planned and one unplanned to avoid creating an incentive for irresponsible management. 

Planned or Unplanned: Reporting Episodic Events

The EPA has acknowledged that episodic events are an occurrence, and the provision is meant to help generators remain in their waste category. Some instances of hazardous waste generation above and beyond the typical monthly generated amount are common.

Planned Episodic Events to Report

  • Short term demolition projects
  • Tank cleanouts
  • Short-term construction projects
  • Short-term site remediation
  • Equipment maintenance during plant shutdown
  • Excess chemical inventories removal

Unplanned Episodic Events to Report

The EPA expects these types of events to occur less often, but they should be reported immediately following the event.

  • Process upsets
  • Product recalls
  • Accidental spills
  • Acts of nature (tornado, flood, hurricane, etc.)

Conditions for Episodic Event Reporting

The idea behind episodic events is that the EPA has concluded that requiring VSQGs and SQGs to adhere to additional regulations and requirements won’t have a direct impact on protecting human health or the environment. 

There are specific conditions to meet, however, to take advantage of these easier reporting requirements:

  1. Planned episodic events must be sent to the EPA with 30 days notice.
  2. Unplanned episodic events must be reported within 72 hours of occurrence.
  3. Two episodic events may not be more than 60 days apart. 
  4. The generator must use a hazardous waste manifest and hazardous waste transporter to ship the waste generated by the episodic event to an RCRA-designated facility within 60 calendar days from the start of the episodic event. 
  5. Generators must identify a facility contact and/or emergency coordinator with 24-hour telephone access to discuss notification submittal or respond to an emergency related to the episodic event.
  6. Generators must complete and maintain records as specified. 

Compliance can seem overwhelming, but experienced hazardous waste transportation companies can help to ensure all rules and regulations are met. 

HWH Environmental

When hazardous waste is routinely generated and stored at your company, regardless of your generator status, it is crucial to work with a partner that is experienced, well-trained, and maintains top safety practices in removing hazardous waste products. This is where the team at HWH Environmental can make all the difference. Our responsive customer service team is here to help you answer any questions. 

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