Hazardous Waste Management of Pyrotechnic Wastes

Written by: jayninelessons, NES, Inc.

A confidential pyrotechnic manufacturing company was faced with enforcement actions and significant fines for alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations. NES provided technical and regulatory advice to help defend the company against the allegations and to assist the company in improving their hazardous waste management and other environmental compliance practices.

Management of pyrotechnic waste is a unique challenge. Unlike most wastes, the flammable and explosive nature of wastes produced from the manufacturing of pyrotechnic materials require special practices to safely accumulate and transport the wastes within the facility and on public roads. The company historically accumulated pyrotechnic wastes by soaking the waste in diesel fuel. This is a standard ­industry practice that controls the potential for accidental detonation. The practice, however, was deemed as treatment by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the company was told that the practice had to stop or to obtain a standardized on–site treatment permit. Neither option was feasible, from both a safety and cost perspective. NES was successful in arguing that under regulations and code, hazardous wastes are allowed to be commingled for accumulation as long as the practice did not create releases or safety issues and that the practice met the intent of the regulations because it was necessary for the safe accumulation, packaging and off–site transportation of the waste. NES also provided regulatory guidance to help the pyrotechnic manufacturing company design, build and operate an effective storm water management process that avoided the need for obtaining a Waste Discharge Requirement from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

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