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Ignitable Hazardous Waste Characterization Being Updated by EPA

EPA has proposed a modernization of the ignitable hazardous waste characterization under the definition of D001 ignitable hazardous waste. The update published on April 2, 2019 (Federal Register Vol. 84, No. 63) will address four major areas by:

  • Incorporating modern consensus standards into the regulations;

  • Allowing for the use of non-mercury thermometers in the characterization process;

  • Narrowing the aqueous solution exclusion; and

  • Clarifying the testing requirements for multi-phase materials.

First EPA will update the referenced flash point testing methods by adding ASTM Standard D8175-18 and ASTM Standard D8174-18 along with the incorporation by reference to allow future updates to occur without regulatory changes. Generator knowledge will continue to be acceptable in place of one of the listed methods.

When the original regulations were developed between 1978-1980, mercury thermometers were the best option on the market for accurate measurement of temperatures. Given the current EPA emphasis on phasing out the use of mercury wherever possible due to the risk of release into the environment, EPA will begin allowing safer, technically appropriate, readily available non-mercury temperature measurement devices if this proposal is finalized.

EPA will officially utilize the DOT definition of the alcohol exclusion as was intended originally, however was not fully specified in the regulation when promulgated in 1980. Thus “aqueous” for the purposes of the ignitibility characteristic found at 40 CFR 261.21(a)(1) will mean “a solution containing at least 50 percent water by weight”.

Due to the large number of questions EPA has received in the past relating to the sampling of multiphase wastes, new language will be added to 40 CFR 261.21(a) clarifying that the existing sampling procedures for multiphase wastes would be applicable to all liquid wastes tested under the regulation.

All facilities generating ignitable hazardous waste should verify that their wastes are properly characterized once these updated rules are finalized prior to shipping any material off-site to a TSDF or other facility.

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