Hazardous waste regulation changes

By Maggie Strom

During 2021, a number of regulatory changes occurred that are likely to impact facilities that generate hazardous waste in the state of Tennessee. Most of these changes incorporated the EPA’s Generator Improvements Rule into Tennessee’s state regulations. According to the EPA, “This rule finalizes a much-needed update to the hazardous waste generator regulations to make the rules easier to understand, facilitate better compliance, provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed and close important gaps in the regulations.”

This rule clarifies the regulations and makes them easier to use and understand. Among other things, these regulations defined the category Very Small Quantity Generator and removed the category Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators, revised what must be included in a facility contingency plan, and made an allowance for episodic hazardous waste generation events. The state of Tennessee also used this time to incorporate another EPA rule change and will now allow the disposal of aerosol cans as a universal waste.

Two of the changes we think will have the greatest impact are managing aerosol cans and episodic generation.

Aerosol cans are now listed in the Tennessee Universal Waste Regulations (Rule 0400-12-01-.12) along
with batteries, pesticides, mercury containing equipment and lamps. This means instead of draining and
crushing aerosol cans and disposing of the drained materials as hazardous waste or disposing of entire
cans as hazardous waste, they can now be accumulated for a year and disposed of along with your other
universal waste. To properly conform to this new rule:

  • Aerosol cans must be accumulated in a container that is structurally sound and compatible with the contents of the aerosol cans. This container should not leak and must be protected from sources of heat.
  • If aerosol cans show evidence of leakage, they must be stored in a separate closed container or overpack with absorbents. They can also be punctured and drained (and treated as hazardous waste if applicable).
  • Containers holding waste aerosol cans shall be marked with the phases: “Universal Waste--Aerosol Can(s),” “Waste Aerosol Can(s),” or “Used Aerosol Can(s).

Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQG) and Small Quantity Generators (SQG) of hazardous waste are now permitted to generate hazardous waste as an episodic event, either planned or unplanned. This is a generation that does not normally occur during generator operations – without this rule change, it would have resulted in a recategorization of the facility to a Large Quantity Generator. Planned events could include facility cleanouts or short term projects and unplanned events including hazardous wastes generated during events like upsets, accidental spills or “acts of nature.”

Posted by Christina Babu at 20:03