On November 28, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule in the Federal Register. The new rule makes over 60 changes to the existing Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) generator regulations. Although some of the changes are minor or simple clarifications, many are significant and potentially applicable to every industry that generates hazardous waste. The new rule reorganizes the regulations to make them more user-friendly, clarifies many ambiguities and contradictions, and addresses previously documented gaps in the regulations.

Here are ten things that you should know about the new rule prior to it taking effect.

1.      VSQG is the new CESQG. The term "conditionally exempt small quantity generator" (CESQG) will be replaced with "very small quantity generator" (VSQG) to improve clarity. VSQGs will have the option to ship their waste to a large quantity generator (LQG) under the control of the same company/owner/person. The waste does not need to be manifested, and it can be self-transported without the need for a licensed hazardous waste transporter. Once the waste arrives at the LQG, it must be managed as hazardous waste under the more stringent requirements applicable to LQGs. The LQG will also be required to notify EPA of this activity, maintain additional records, and document these wastes in their Biennial Reports (when applicable).

2.      New SQG Notification Requirement. The new rule requires small quantity generators (SQGs) to renotify EPA of their continued status as a SQG (if applicable) every 4 years (unless their state has more frequent renotification requirements). The compliance date for this portion of the rule is delayed until 2021 to give states time to update their reporting forms and make other necessary changes.

3.      New Contingency Plan Quick Reference Guide. The new rule requires LQGs to develop a Contingency Plan Quick Reference Guide that they must provide to applicable emergency responders along with the full version of the Contingency Plan. This Guide alerts first responders to the most critical information at the time of an emergency, and must contain eight key elements detailed in the new rule. Generators must also document attempts to make arrangements with local emergency responders (or document that arrangements were sought but not obtained), and keep this documentation in the facility's operating record.

4.      New Episodic Generation Provisions. Episodic generation refers to occasions where a VSQG or SQG exceeds its monthly generation limits due to a planned (e.g., a periodic tank or hazmat locker cleanout) or unplanned event (e.g., an accidental spill/release or unforeseen upset condition). The new rule provides specific guidance and increased flexibility for these occurrences, allowing generators to maintain their existing generator category if they comply with streamlined requirements. Each generator will be allowed to have one episodic event per calendar year, with the ability to petition for a second event if needed. If the first event is planned, the petition for a second event must be for an unplanned event, and vice versa. The facility must notify EPA at least 30 days prior to a planned event or within 72 hours after an unplanned event. The waste generated during the episodic event must be off site within 60 days.

5.      More Detailed Container Labeling Requirements. EPA increased the labeling requirements for all containers of hazardous waste, including drip pads, tanks, and containment buildings. Under the new rule, in addition to being labeled as hazardous waste, all containers of hazardous waste must also be labeled to indicate the hazards associated with the waste (e.g., ignitable, corrosive). Prior to sending hazardous waste off site, all generators must also mark their containers with all applicable RCRA waste codes, or use an accepted equivalent electronic method (e.g., barcoding).

6.      Changes for Satellite Accumulation Areas. The new rule imposes the same labeling requirements on Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAAs) that are currently in place for Central Accumulation Areas (as discussed in Item 5 above). Additionally, containers at an SAA may remain open temporarily, when necessary for safe operation. Furthermore, the rule applies maximum weight limits to storage of acute hazardous waste, in addition to the maximum volume limits already imposed.

7.      Small Changes to Biennial Reporting Requirements. The new rule makes several small changes and clarifications regarding Biennial Reporting. Most significant is that generators that do not store hazardous waste on site prior to recycling are no longer exempt from preparing Biennial Reports to identify the wastes they are recycling. EPA also simplified conflicting guidance to confirm that an LQG must prepare a Biennial Report for the entire calendar year, even for months when they generate wastes at the volume of an SQG.

8.      Clarifications on Hazardous Waste Characterization/Determination.  To assist with hazardous waste determinations (which are a common source of violations), the new rule clarifies that a generator's hazardous waste determination must be accurate and made at its point of generation before any dilution, mixing, or alteration. It also explains more fully how generator knowledge and analytical testing can be used in making hazardous waste determinations and to evaluate hazardous characteristics.

9.      Relaxation of the 50-Foot Rule. Under current rules, LQGs may not store ignitable or reactive hazardous wastes within 50 feet of their property lines. The new rule allows the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) over the fire code in the facility’s state or locality (e.g., fire marshal) to waive this requirement for LQGs, if the AHJ determines that the LQG’s proposed precautions are appropriate and safe.

10.  When Will This Go into Effect?  The rule becomes effective at the federal level on May 30, 2017. For states and territories not authorized for the RCRA program (Alaska, Iowa, and the territories), the rule goes into effect on that day as well. States  that have been granted the authority to implement RCRA must adopt the provisions of the new rule that are more stringent than the current regulations to retain their authorized status. However, these changes become effective only when the state adopts them or by the EPA-established deadline (July 1, 2018, for most authorized states), whichever comes first. Authorized states will not be required to adopt the less or equally stringent provisions, but they have that option.

This article provides a quick summary of the new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule so that you can begin to prepare for regulatory changes as they roll out. While these changes won’t have a massive impact on the hazardous waste industry, they do clarify and simplify some regulations. With future regulatory change uncertain under the incoming presidential administration, it is important to understand and prepare for current updates to hazardous waste regulations, to ensure that you stay ahead of the curve. If you have any questions or comments regarding the new rule, or have recommendations for other areas that should be addressed in future articles, please feel free to contact John Ribar (619.260.1033 ext 301) or Brian Whipple (301.907.9078 ext 3029).  


Potomac-Hudson Engineering, Inc. (PHE) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a 5-year Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), including the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  This BPA, valued at a maximum of $91M, is for the preparation of environmental impact statements (EISs), environmental assessments (EAs), and related documents to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  This BPA may also may be used to procure other environmental support services including floodplain and wetland assessments; Clean Water Act permitting; cultural resources surveys and consultation; biological resources surveys, assessments and consultation; incorporating NEPA considerations into Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) documents; and preparing environmental reports required for NRC license application reviews.

This marks PHE’s third consecutive award of this contract, building upon over 10 years of successful support to DOE programs on a nationwide basis.  PHE has been DOE’s most successful small business provider under previous contract awards, and has led NEPA studies supporting may of DOE’s most challenging initiatives. PHE will be supported on this BPA by its teaming partners S.S. Papadopulos & Associates (SSP&A) and Trinity Engineering Associates (TEA), both of whom have proven records supporting DOE on complex environmental and human health studies.

OCTOBER 2016 - Gryphon | PHE | ECATS Joint Venture Awarded 5-Years Regional Environmental Acquisition Tool (REAT) Contract!

PHE is pleased to announce that the Gryphon | PHE | ECATS Joint Venture has been awarded a five-year Regional Environmental Acquisition Tool (REAT) Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contract for Environmental Consulting Services (ECS).  Under the contract Gryphon I PHE I ECATS will provide support to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Atlantic Division (SAD) for various Department of Defense (DoD) and Interagency and International Services (IIS) customers and programs, for support and advice on multimedia environmental and occupational health and safety-related services, as well as full environmental compliance services.

September 2016 - PHE Awarded 5-Year Contract to Support Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton.


Potomac-Hudson Engineering, Inc. (PHE) is pleased to announce that we were recently awarded a five-year contract to provide support to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton’s Comprehensive Environmental Training and Education Program (CETEP) and Environmental Management System (EMS) program.  Additionally, PHE will provide support to the Air Station’s hazardous materials management, hazardous waste management, and storm water compliance programs.  This award was based on 10 years of continuous multimedia environmental support, including the preparation of a Utilities Master Plan, an Environmental Assessment, two updates to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan, a Pollution Prevention Plan, a Sustainability Gap Analysis and Implementation Plan, a Solid Waste Characterization Study, and an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan.  PHE is grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting MCAS Camp Pendleton’s environmental programs.

April 2016 - PHE Awarded Contract to Conduct Environmental Compliance Audits for U.S. Coast Guard

PHE was recently awarded a task order under our US Coast Guard (USCG) IDIQ Contract to conduct Environmental Compliance Evaluations (ECEs) at 16 USCG installations in Virginia, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam.  This project will be conducted on an aggressive timeline to complete all audits by the end of September 2016.  This award follows on PHE’s successful completion of the USCG’s FY2015 ECE program where PHE conducted ECEs at USCG installations in North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, California, Washington, and Alaska. 

Under a separate task order award, PHE is developing USCG-wide Integrated Waste Management (IWM) Compliance guidance, to provide USCG units with procedures for achieving and maintaining compliance with the various Federal, state, and local IWM regulations.  Administrative guidance for implementing the IWM Program will accompany unit-level guidance as a separate deliverable.

 PHE is grateful for the opportunity to support the US Coast Guard.

PHE Awarded Nationwide NEPA Support Contract with the Department of Veteran Affairs

October 2015 – PHE has been awarded a 5-year contract with the VA Office of Asset Enterprise Management to prepare NEPA documentation and conduct environmental analysis.  This is PHE’s second contract award from OAEM, which was previously managed through the VA’s National Energy Business Center.  Under this contract, PHE and our teaming partner Gryphon Environmental, will provide environmental analysis support to the VA for projects that improve sustainability performance, meet sustainability objectives, and reduce greenhouse gases.  Under our prior contract, PHE prepared 20 Environmental Assessments (EAs) for the installation and operation of alternative energy sources at VA facilities, including photovoltaic (PV) energy, wind energy, and combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

PHE and EcoPlan Team Awarded 5-Year BPA with Western Area Power Administration

September 2015 - PHE and its teaming partner EcoPlan were recently awarded a five year, $5 million Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) for Environmental, Cultural and Biological Services, for Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), Desert Southwest Region.  Under this contract, PHE will support WAPA on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) studies and documentation. This contract may also include other work including field biological surveys and monitoring; wetland assessments; cultural resources investigations; and air, water and noise compliance and permitting.  These projects will be in support of WAPA’s mission to deliver hydroelectric power within a 15-state region of the central and western United States, including the continued operation of more than 40 electrical substations and over 3,000 miles of transmission lines

PHE Awarded Three-Year IDIQ Contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District

July 2014 - PHE is excited to announce that we have been awarded a three year IDIQ Contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District. Under this contract PHE will provide assistance to the Fort Worth District in supporting Military and Civil entities with their compliance with environmental laws and regulations, primarily in the Southwestern Division.  The scope of work includes the preparation of NEPA documents, environmental studies, and environmental compliance related requirements. This contract builds on other recent IDIQ contract awards that PHE has been issued with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and the General Services Administration Public Building Service. 

PHE Awarded 5-Year IDIQ Contract with Naval Facilities Engineering Command

April 2014 - PHE was recently awarded a five year, $30 million Indefinite Duration, Indefinite Quantity contract  by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Southwest.  Under this contract, PHE will support NAVFAC Southwest on a broad range of environmental planning services, with an emphasis on preparation of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents. This contract may also include other work including facility plans and preliminary designs; cultural and natural resource surveys; air quality, noise and traffic studies; and public participation and agency consultation support. The locations for most projects covered under this contract will primarily be within California, Nevada, and Arizona (often for projects in desert, upland, and mountain environments); but could be anywhere in the United States where NAVFAC performs projects. 

PHE Awarded 5-Year IDIQ Contract with the United States Coast Guard

October 2013 – PHE was the only Small Business selected under the Coast Guard’s Multiple Award Environmental A/E Services IDIQ.  This 5-year contract, managed through the Coast Guard Facilities Design and Construction Center Detachment Seattle, has a total value of $60M.  It can be used by Coast Guard facilities and commands in the United States and territories.  The contract scope of work covers a broad array of services, including environmental planning; compliance evaluation, permitting, and management; training; sustainability, EMS, and pollution prevention; cultural and natural resources studies and assessments; and environmental investigations and evaluation.  PHE is extremely happy to have been awarded a slot on the environmental A/E services contract, our first large Coast Guard contract in many years.