EPA Proposes to Modernize Ignitability Characteristic

By: Stericycle

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal in the Federal Register (84 Fed. Reg. 12539) to “modernize” the determination for the characteristic of ignitability for liquids under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Comments are being accepted until June 3, 2019, and the final rule is projected to be issued in early 2020.

Under current RCRA regulations, solid wastes are classified and regulated as hazardous wastes if they are explicitly listed as such. They can also exhibit a “characteristic” property of hazardous waste: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity.

The ignitability characteristic specifies that the following qualify as hazardous wastes:

  1. Liquids with flash points below 60°C (140°F), except aqueous liquids with less than 24% alcohol
  2. Non-liquids that are capable under standard conditions of causing fire through friction, absorption of moisture or spontaneous chemical changes, and that, when ignited, burn so vigorously and persistently as to create a hazard
  3. Ignitable compressed gases
  4. Oxidizers
What are key components of the proposal?
  • Changes to the exclusion for aqueous alcohol wastes
  • New provision for “multiphase” mixtures
  • Technical changes to allow new flash point tests and changes to definitions to align with Department of Transportation (DOT)

According to the EPA, states will not have to adopt the rule as it is “neither more nor less stringent” than the current one. However, certain aspects could cause significantly more wastes to be classified and regulated as hazardous wastes under RCRA.

A few states do have ignitability characteristics that vary from the federal rule. It is likely that some states will need to adopt the new requirements into their regulations.

Specifically, the proposed rule may have a significant impact on mining companies, wastewater treatment systems, laboratories and any generators that manage chemicals used for solvent properties.

Stericycle Environmental Solutions is committed to ensuring that as changes develop around ignitable liquids determinations, our waste profiling process and waste determination and characterizations are updated accordingly. For information about our services, click here.