Seyfarth Synopsis: The EPA’s new “Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule,” while containing some changes that industry welcomes, also contains new requirements that present challenges for the regulated community. We will be publishing a series of blogs on the more complex and important compliance issues coming out of these rules prior to the May 2017 effective date of the rules.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finally published its Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. 85732 (November 28, 2016). The Agency is promoting the idea that the final rule updates 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.”

While we agree the rules are better organized (for example, the definitions of “very small quantity generators,” “small quantity generators,” and “large quantity generators” are now conveniently located in one place in the 40 CFR Part 262 Generator Standards), it is important for the regulated community to understand the substantive changes of the new rules, particularly as they relate to container labeling, satellite accumulation areas and new closure requirements for “central accumulation areas” (formerly known as less-than-90-day-storage -areas). In our series of blogs we will discuss these issues as well as new and revised notification, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, among other topics.

The rule will become effective on May 30, 2017. For those states and territories that are not authorized for the RCRA program (Alaska, Iowa, and the Indian Nations, and the territories Puerto Rico, American Samoa, N. Mariana and U.S. Virgin Islands), the rule will go into effect on that day. Authorized states will be required to adopt any provisions that are more stringent than the current state RCRA generator regulations in order to retain their authorized status. Provisions that are either less stringent or the same as current RCRA regulations can be adopted at the state’s discretion. However, the rule (both good and bad) will not become effective in authorized states until those states have both adopted the rule and EPA has authorized those newly adopted provisions.