Hazardous Waste Permitting: Proposed Regulations Changes
Written by: Brittiny Harris, NES, Inc.
In an effort to protect employees and the environment, hazardous waste permitting criteria regulations are set to change by the end of 2017.
Proposed Updates to Hazardous Waste Permitting Regulations
The Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) has recently initiated the public comment period for proposed changes to hazardous waste permitting regulations found in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR). This federally mandated 45-day period will run from September 22, 2017 to 11:59 a.m. (PST) on November 6, 2017. During this time affected agencies and businesses have the opportunity to review the proposed changes and suggest better alternatives. To complement DTSC’s account of how the existing regulations are intended to be modified, DTSC has released an extensive document, Initial Statement of Reasons, Hazardous Waste Permitting Criteria, describing the decision-making processes behind the proposed changes.
DTSC is required to update regulations regarding the issuance and renewal of hazardous waste permits in order to keep pace with current health and safety standards. California DTSC is authorized to develop and promulgate standards that are at least as stringent and broad in scope as those established federally. In line with this, DTSC has stated, “The proposed regulations will neither duplicate nor conflict with existing federal regulations.”
Hazardous Waste Permitting Criteria
Facilities that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste are, in general, required to have a current hazardous waste permit issued by DTSC. In order to receive, modify, or renew a permit, facilities will need to adhere to specific criteria. DTSC is authorized by Health and Safety Code (HSC) section 25200.21 to adopt and update required regulations that hazardous waste facilities need to meet in order to keep their insurance for a modified or new hazardous waste permit. Upon evaluating the facilities, if the requirements are not met, the hazardous waste permit will either be suspended or denied. In devising appropriate modifications to hazardous waste permitting regulations, DTSC considers the following criteria:
- “Number and types of past violations that would result in denial;
- The vulnerability of, and existing health risks to, nearby populations, including cumulative impacts;
- Minimum setback distances from sensitive receptors (e.g. schools, hospitals, elder care facilities, etc.)
- Evidence of financial responsibility and qualifications of ownership;
- Provision of financial assurances pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 25200.1;
- Training of personnel in the safety culture and plans; and
- Completion of a health risk assessment”
DTSC inspects and authorizes facilities’ activities to make sure that they are in compliance with established rules and regulations. DTSC’s hazardous waste permitting program is in place to ensure that hazardous waste is being properly taken care of so that operational processes do not lead to adverse effects on the health and safety of humans and the environment. Through compliance with these regulations it is hoped that affected facilities are able to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the release of harmful substances into the air, water, or soil.
Hazardous waste can negatively impact the environment if not properly treated.
Basic requirements for the management of hazardous waste in California are outlined in Hazardous Waste Control Law, Division 20, Chapter 6.5.
Key components of regulations put out by the DTSC can be found in Title 22, California Code of Regulations, Division 4.5, Chapters 20 and 21.
Regulations Changes: Personnel Training
In Title 22 CCR §66264.16 and §66265.16, various changes are proposed regarding personnel training. In §66264.16(a), DTSC added verbiage stating required facility training can be done online. It was also clarified that every three years facility personnel that deal with shipping hazardous waste will be trained to meet the requirements in section 172.704 of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
In §66264.16(a)(2), DTSC added that informative instruction for personnel will need to teach “the identification and segregation of incompatible hazardous wastes or products.”
In §66264.16(a)(3), DTSC added that the emergency response training had to cover “prevention, mitigation, abatement, and notification.” Within this section, three categories were added—(F), (G), and (H):
- (F) states that emergency training needs to cover the shutdown of operations
- (G) says that emergency responders need to know and participate in self-protective procedures
- (H) requires that emergency responders need to have received training on how to perform accident prevention methods
66264.16(a)(4) was entirely added to the document. This section contains two subsections establishing further additional training requirements for facility operators to accomplish through employee training. §66264.16(a)(4)(A) indicates that through training personnel need to be provided an overview of their facility and the operations that are performed there—they will need to gain “general awareness.” §66264.16(a)(4)(B) says that each employee who deals with hazardous waste must have training tailored to his or her specific job—that is, “function-specific.”
66264.16(d) will now include more explicit and detailed requirements for training documentation and reporting. The section states that thorough records of training must be kept and must be in compliance with the regulations put forth in §66264.16.
The last notable amendment to the personnel training section is §66264.16(f), which is entirely new to the regulations, and its subsections (1) and (2). Each year, by March 1st, the facility owner will be required to send to DTSC a signed statement certifying that facility personnel have completed required training. The annual certification must include the job title and name of each employee working in a hazardous waste management role.
Benefits to the Hazardous Waste Permitting Criteria Changes
With these changes to the criteria around obtaining, modifying, and renewing a hazardous waste permit, it is believed that there will be a vast variety of benefits. Some of these benefits include more safety to humans and the environment, the increased security of public funds, and improvements to the training that facility personnel will acquire. Closure and post-closure procedures will be even more precise due to the improved regulations required to have an operational hazardous waste plant. A community involvement profile will be done whereby the surrounding public will be able to give their input. Along with a public hearing, a health risk assessment will be completed prior to, and while, the hazardous waste facility is becoming active.
Hazardous waste permitting regulations changes are intended to protect the environment.
With all of these anticipated benefits, a new transparency will guide DTSC’s hazardous waste permitting decision-making process. The newly proposed Violations Scoring Procedure, an account of compliance history, will present less confusion when the DTSC comes to evaluate a hazardous waste facility. Overall, better public health and safety, along with a cleaner and safer environment in California, are the main goals in revising the hazardous waste permitting regulations.
Hazardous Waste Permitting Revamped: The Economic Effects
DTSC emphasizes that these changes are being put in place in order protect public health, increase safety, and enhance the quality of the environment. DTSC has determined that the proposed changes will not lead to financial savings or costs to state or local agencies or school districts and that housing costs would be unaffected. Federal funds that California receives would also not be altered, and no jobs or business will be created, expanded, or eliminated.
DTSC has further determined that the regulation changes will not have a significant statewide impact on businesses; however, small business owners of hazardous waste facilities will need to abide by the proposed changes (once officially enacted) to obtain and maintain a hazardous waste permit. In doing so, they will have an additional cost in their hazardous waste permit application along with an additional yearly cost to regulate training certifications and a review of the Violations Scoring Procedure. According to DTSC, only small businesses with a historical pattern of nonconformance to applicable hazardous waste regulations will be expected to experience any significant economic impact.
Alternatives to Proposed Hazardous Waste Permitting Regulations Changes
DTSC recently conducted two different meetings, one in southern California and one in northern California, both of which for the purpose of investigating whether any alternative methods of making the hazardous waste permitting process more effective and less intrusive could be identified. Through their open discussions, it came to their attention that this is the most efficient and cost effectively way to implement the new rules and regulations.
Want to be Heard?
On Monday, November 6, 2017, the last day of the public comment period, DTSC will be holding a public hearing on the proposed changes to the hazardous waste facility permitting criteria. The location is:
Coastal Hearing Room
1001 I Street
Sacramento, California 95814
The meeting will start at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 11:30 a.m. or until there are no more statements or arguments to be presented. Preregistration to speak at the hearing is requested by DTSC, which begins at 9:00 a.m. and continues until the hearing starts (all times PST). Attendees should allow enough time to sign in and get a visitor’s badge before the hearing starts. Click here to learn more.
November 6, 2017 is DTSC’s deadline for public comments on the proposed changes.
Hazardous Waste Permitting and NES
NES has been providing environmental consulting and numerous EH&S training services on behalf of a wide array of public and private businesses and government agencies for the past 30 years. In particular, NES specializes in Title 22/RCRA hazardous waste management training and consulting. If you need training or have questions regarding hazardous waste regulatory requirements for your facility, please contact NES at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-353-2360 / 1-800-NES-ADVISE.
DTSC Document: Text of Proposed Regulations – R-2016-03