EPA Guidance on Hazardous Waste Incineration Backlog

18 Aug

Environment

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Last month, KTL published an article on the national incinerator slowdown many Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) and Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) are experiencing firsthand right now. We included some guidance for facilities being adversely impacted by the current backlog on how to proactively manage this situation based on KTL’s conversations with EPA and waste management companies.

On August 10, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR) issued a formal memorandum in response to the national incinerator backlog for containerized hazardous waste. The memo states that as of late July 2021, EPA has heard from over 20 states that they have received requests from hazardous waste generators for extensions to the accumulation time limit (i.e., 90 days for LQGs and 180 days for SQGs*)—and some states have begun receiving requests for second extensions.

The Agency also predicts that this backlog may not fully resolve until the end of the first quarter of 2022 due to a number of factors, including the following:

  • Labor shortages resulting from COVID-19 that are impacting transportation and incinerators.
  • Shutdowns for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, as well as from winter storms in the southern U.S.
  • Increased manufacturing and resulting hazardous waste generation as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

The EPA memo goes on to explain multiple existing regulatory options for various regulated entities that generate and manage hazardous waste to address the backlog. These options are primarily focused on providing storage extensions for LQGs and SQGs and granting permit authorization for increased storage capacity at RCRA-permitted transportation, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs). These are intended to be temporary solutions to help ensure hazardous waste continues to be safely managed during this unusual circumstance.

KTL remains engaged with EPA and numerous hazardous waste disposal vendors to carefully monitor the incinerator backlog situation. We understand the challenges facilities are facing and can help navigate the regulatory environment and implement one of the recommended storage extension strategies to keep facilities in compliance. 

* Or 270 days for SQGs if the waste must be transported 200 miles or more.

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