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Episodic generation
  • Most episodic generators manage all of their wastes to comply with the larger generator category requirements in order to make things less complicated.
  • EPA is allowing VSQGs and SQGs to have one planned and one unplanned episodic event per year.
  • The generator must notify EPA at least 30 calendar days before beginning a planned episodic event or within 72 hours after an unplanned event.

Some generators regularly switch categories. This may be because they have more wastes during certain times of the year or they conduct a yearly lab cleanout or other yearly disposal effort. In other cases, the discovery of an unknown waste or a tank malfunction may cause an unexpected waste generation that pushes the generator into a higher generator category. Whatever the cause, this kind of generation is known as “episodic generation.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that a facility may be subject to different standards at different times, depending on the generator category in a given month. If a facility generates less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste in one calendar month, the facility would be a very small quantity generator (VSQG); however, if in the next month, the facility generates 300 pounds of hazardous waste, then the facility would be a small quantity generator (SQG) — at least for as long as the waste generated in that month is onsite.

Basically, a facility manages the waste generated in a given month according to the category for that month. Where this gets complicated is in actually meeting the stricter regulations that go along with the higher generator categories. For instance, VSQGs are minimally regulated. But if a VSQG suddenly becomes a large quantity generator (LQG), then all of the LQG requirements apply, including requirements to train employees, develop emergency preparedness plans and contingency plans, and ship wastes offsite within 90 days. Keeping a weekly log or other record of hazardous waste generation can help ensure compliance with quantity and accumulation time limits. Most episodic generators manage all of their wastes to comply with the larger generator category requirements in order to make things less complicated.

Subpart L — Exemptions for episodic generators

If the state adopts the less stringent provisions in the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR) Subpart L, then a facility may have up to two episodic events in one year without having to change generator categories.

EPA is allowing VSQGs and SQGs to have one planned and one unplanned episodic event per year. This exemption is to allow a generator to plan for a tank cleanout, short-term construction project, short-term site remediation, equipment maintenance during a plant shutdown, the removal of excess chemical inventories, etc.

To take advantage of this allowance, note the following conditions:

  1. Episodic events are limited to one per calendar year; however, EPA says it will allow one unplanned event in addition to a planned event.
  2. The generator must notify EPA at least 30 calendar days before beginning a planned episodic event or within 72 hours after an unplanned event. The generator must identify the start and end dates of the episodic event, with no more than 60 days total in the event, along with other information about the event. The generator must identify a facility contact and/or emergency coordinator with 24-hour telephone access to discuss notification submittal or respond to an emergency related to the event.
  3. VSQGs must obtain an EPA Identification (ID) Number.
  4. The generator must comply with specified hazardous waste management conditions as the waste is being accumulated onsite. For instance, a facility must mark containers with the words, “Episodic hazardous waste” in addition to the regular hazardous waste labeling requirements.
  5. The generator must use a hazardous waste manifest to ship the waste generated during the event offsite to a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)-designated facility within 60 calendar days.
  6. The generator must complete and maintain the following records:
    • Beginning and end dates of the episodic event;
    • A description of the episodic event;
    • A description of the types and quantities of hazardous wastes generated during the episodic event;
    • A description of how the hazardous waste was managed, as well as the name of the RCRA-designated facility that received the hazardous waste;
    • Name(s) of hazardous waste transporters, as appropriate; and
    • An approval letter from EPA, if the generator successfully petitioned to conduct an additional episodic event during the calendar year.

If there is more than one unplanned event in one year, a facility may petition EPA for approval of that event. EPA will not approve a second planned event.