By Yasaman Azar Houshang
In the upcoming months, hazardous waste generators in California should be anticipating changes to applicable regulations as the Generator Improvement Rule (GIR) is eventually adopted. Generator Improvement Rule refers to the updated federal hazardous waste regulations that were finalized and adopted by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2017. Since then, California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)—the authorized state agency—has been working on adopting and implementing GIR. The GIR has been developed with the goal of providing more flexibility to the hazardous waste generators while enhancing the process of hazardous waste management to better protect the environment. The mandatory and optional provisions of GIR being considered by DTSC, were most recently presented at the 2019 California CUPA conference.
The mandatory provisions of the GIR include changes to the re-notification requirements, labeling, and closure regulations, as well as special regulations for incompatible wastes at Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAA), and enhanced pre-transportation marking of containers prior to shipping. As part of the changes, in the event a small quantity or large quantity generator attempts to contact local authority, they are required to document said attempt. Lastly, the GIR requires Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) to develop a Quick Reference Guide as part of their contingency plan.
The optional provisions of the GIR include allowing for some flexibility during episodic generation for Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) to maintain their generator category, waiver to the 50 feet rule for LQGs for ignitable and reactive wastes, revisions to the SAA requirements for small and large quantity generators, requirements prohibiting disposal of hazardous liquid in landfill by generators, as well as the addition of new definitions and reorganization of the regulation.
Although two years have passed since the adoption of GIR by EPA, the provisions of the GIR are yet to take effect in California, since all or parts of the provisions are to be adopted by DTSC before it goes into effect for California generators. To maintain its status as an authorized state, California hazardous waste regulation should be equally or more stringent than federal regulations, hence, in the process of determining which provisions to adopt, the GIR requirements will be weighed against the existing state regulations. DTSC is anticipated to start adopting the applicable portion of GIR provisions by July 2019.
Adopting the Generator Improvement Rule in California. Presented by Omar Ghaleb of California Department of Toxic Substances Control