The State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MEDEP) just amended its rules to formally include an exemption for “solvent-contaminated wipes,” putting to bed a long-standing question of how solvent-contaminated wipes should be managed under Maine’s hazardous waste regulations.
Because of the relatively low hazard they pose, the policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and MEDEP allowed alternatives to traditional hazardous waste management and disposal of solvent-contaminated wipes. MEDEP’s new rule follows EPA’s 2013 rule, and exempts solvent-contaminated wipes from the definition of hazardous waste – as long as specific conditions are met.
Under the rule, solvent-contaminated wipes are not considered hazardous waste from the point of generation provided that the generator complies with specified minimum requirements, including using non-leaking and closed containers designated only for those wipes, storage for no more than 180-days, labeling containers with the words “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes,” and avoiding free liquids at the time of shipment (which must be managed as hazardous waste upon removal from the wipes or their container). The new rule also sets forth several recordkeeping requirements, including documentation that the 180-day limit is met. Trichloroethylene disposable wipes must be managed as a hazardous waste, and are not subject to the exclusion.
MEDEP’s rule varies slightly from that of the EPA, including an explicit requirement that containers in which solvent-contaminated wipes are stored must be used only for the storage of those wipes, and “sealing” containers when full or when wipes are no longer being accumulated. These added requirements raise questions of interpretation and the possibility of an enforcement issue.
The final Maine rule is available at the following link: http://www.maine.gov/dep/rules/.