September 1998 Volume 20 Number 3
What is a CESQG? And why is it important to conservators?
Unfortunately, art conservators generate hazardous waste and most of us are concerned about the volume of hazardous waste that enters the environment every day. In the spring of 1978 the issue became all too real for a small New York town near Niagra Falls. For the residents of Love Canal the nightmare had just begun.
This wasn't the first time a chemical dump had been found near a residential area, nor was it the worst. It did, however, wake up the American people and Congress to the problem of hazardous waste. In 1980, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued regulations that detailed the responsibilities for hazardous waste generators, transporters, and management facilities. Among these regulations were two broad exclusions: households and small businesses that generated less than 1,000 kilograms/month of hazardous waste.
In 1984, EPA estimated the total volume of hazardous waste generated in this country to be 290 million tons and amendments were added to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations issued in 1980. These amendments created three classes of generators: (1) large quantity generators that generate greater than 1000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month, (2) small quantity generators that generate between 100 and 1000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month, and (3) very small quantity generators that generate less than 100 kilograms of hazardous waste per month.
Congress gave EPA the discretion to issue regulations for the very small quantity generators. These very small quantity generators have become known as the "conditionally-exempt small quantity generators" or CESQGs. CESQGs are exempted from full regulation, but there are some regulations that they do have to follow. Most museums, galleries and other places of business for the art conservator fit the CESQG designation. Therefore they should understand what part of the regulations they must follow.
Congress has been concerned with the waste issue as far back as 1965 when they passed the Solid Waste Disposal Act. In 1976 Congress remodeled the Solid Waste Disposal Act, which dealt with nonhazardous waste, into a major new program on hazardous waste, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The EPA takes these environmental acts and turns them into federal regulations published in the Code of Federal Regulations or CFRs. All environmental regulations are found in volume 40 of the CFRs.
For the most part, the RCRA regulations are found in 40 CFR Parts 260 through 282. We will be taking a look at 40 CFR Part 261.5 "Special requirements for hazardous waste generated by conditionally-exempt small quantity generators." I will also take a look at how these regulations are adopted by the individual states. A state can either adopt the federal regulations as they are written in 40 CFR or can be authorized to run their own RCRA program. States can write their own regulations as long as those regulations are at least as stringent as the federal requirements. It must be noted that it is very difficult to stay current on all the state requirements. The information I have on the state requirements dates back to 1993 and may have changed for your state in the last five years. If you are responsible for the waste at your place of work, you need to check with your state's environmental regulatory agency for an update on the regulations that cover conditionally-exempt small quantity generators.
40 CFR Part 261.5 is divided into ten paragraphs labeled (a) through (j). Paragraph (a) gives the definition of the conditionally-exempt small quantity generator (CESQG) and it is here we find they are generators that generate less than 100 kilograms of hazardous waste in a month. Paragraph(b) gives the exemptions for the CESQG. These exemptions will be summarized later in subsequent paragraphs. Paragraphs (c) and (d) spell out the rules that a generator needs to follow when determining how much hazardous waste they generate in a month.
In paragraphs (e) and (f) we find that generators that generate acutely hazardous waste have less room to work with when it comes to the CESQG status. A generator is allowed to generate one kilogram of acutely hazardous waste in a month, any more and they will become a small quantity generator (SQG) and will be subject to more stringent regulations. Paragraph (g) is a very important section and spells out the CESQG's requirements for handling their hazardous waste. These requirements will be summarized in subsequent paragraphs. Paragraphs (h) through (j) give rules for mixing your hazardous waste with non-hazardous waste. Although every paragraph is important for the CESQG to understand, the primary focus of this article will be on paragraphs (b) and (g).
40 CFR 261.5 (b)"Except for those wastes identified in paragraphs (e), (f), (g), and (j) of this section, a conditionally-exempt small quantity generator's hazardous wastes are not subject to regulation under Parts 262 through 266, 268 and Parts 270 and 124 of this chapter, and the notification requirements of section 3010 of RCRA, provided the generator complies with the requirements of paragraphs (f), (g), and (j) of this section."
This paragraph exempts CESQGs from several requirements with which larger generators (SQGs and LQGs) must comply. This paragraph is also a good example of how regulations are phrased, referring the reader to other paragraphs, sections, or Parts. Notice the exemption has exceptions: "Except for those wastes identified in paragraphs (e), (f), (g), and (j) of this section". In other words, as long as you do not generate more than one kilogram of acutely hazardous waste a month [paragraphs (e) and (f)], or generate more than 100 kilograms of hazardous waste a month [paragraph (g)], or mix your hazardous waste with waste oil [paragraph (j)] as a CESQG you are not subject to full regulation.
However, the CESQG is not exempted from everything. Thus we have paragraph (g).
"In order for the hazardous waste generated by a conditionally exempt small quantity generator in quantities of less than 100 kilograms of hazardous waste during a calender month to be excluded from full regulations under this section, the generator must comply with the following requirements:" 40 CFR Part 261.5 (g).
Is my waste excluded under 40 CFR 261.4?
Is it listed as a hazardous waste in Subpart D of 40 CFR Part 261?
Does it show any hazardous characteristics as identified in Subpart C of 40 CFR Part 261?
Second, the CESQG may accumulate its hazardous waste on-site indefinitely provided the total amount of waste accumulated does not exceed 1,000 kilograms at any one time. The CESQG must move its hazardous waste to an acceptable waste management facility before it exceeds the 1,000 kilogram limit, or face more stringent requirements set for SQGs.
Third, the CESQG must manage its hazardous waste either in an on-site or off-site waste management facility that: is permitted, or in interim status under the Subtitle C hazardous waste management facility standards; is a state permitted, licensed, or registered municipal or industrial solid waste facility; or is a facility that beneficially uses, reuses, or legitimately recycles or reclaims waste, or treats waste prior to beneficial use, reuse, or legitimate recycling or reclamation. If the CESQG complies with these three requirements it can be excluded from the requirements mentioned earlier.
It would be simple for the CESQG if all it had to do was worry about the federal regulations. However, in 1993, 34 states had one or more requirements for CESQGs that were more stringent than the federal requirements. The following paragraphs summarize the more stringent requirements by states as of 1993. Please take note that these could have changed and it is best that those responsible for the hazardous waste at your place of work check with your state's environmental regulatory agency for an update on the regulations that cover conditionally exempt small quantity generators.
CESQG Generator Size Categories. As noted previously, federal regulations characterize hazardous waste generators of less than 100 kilograms per month as conditionally exempt. Most states use the same exclusion level; however, in 1993 the following three states used a lower exclusion level.
The District of Columbia's exclusion level is 50 kilograms per month. Thus, a generator is considered conditionally-exempt only if it generates less than 50 kg/mo of hazardous waste. Moreover, the District has some requirements for these generators that are more stringent than the federal requirements. Generators of greater than 50 kg/mo are fully regulated. There is no small quantity generator (SQG) status. Thus, all generators of 50 kg/mo or more must comply with the requirements that are the same as the federal requirements for large quantity generators (LQGs).
Kansas has established an exclusion level of 25 kg/mo. Thus, a generator is considered conditionally-exempt only if it generates less than 25 kg/mo of hazardous waste. Moreover, Kansas has some requirements for these generators that are more stringent than the federal requirements. Under Kansas law, generators of 25 to 100 kg/mo must comply with requirements that are equal to those for the federally-defined SQGs.
Rhode Island fully regulates all hazardous waste generators and does not provide any conditional exemptions. Thus, generators of less than 100 kg/mo must meet state requirements that equal federal requirements for LQGs.
State Hazardous Waste Identification Number. Unlike the federal government, in 1993, seven states required all generators to obtain a state hazardous waste identification number. They are California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Also in 1993, Texas required only industrial CESQGs to obtain an identification number. Let us not forget that generators in the District of Columbia are not excluded if they generate 50 kg/mo or more of hazardous waste and must obtain an identification number, as well as those generators in Kansas that generate 25 kg/mo or more of hazardous waste.
State Storage Time Limits and On-site Waste Accumulation Limits. The storage time limit is the maximum amount of time a generator can hold hazardous waste on-site without a storage permit. Federal regulations allow CESQGs to store waste on-site indefinitely, provided that the maximum amount stored does not exceed 1,000 kg at any given time. Once the 1,000 kg limit is exceeded, all waste accumulated is subject to federal requirements for SQGs, which include a maximum storage time limit of 180 days, a maximum on-site accumulation limit of 6,000 kg, and other storage requirements.
Unlike the federal requirements for CESQGs, in 1993, some states have a limited storage time and/or a lower maximum storage limit. For example, five states (California, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Rhode Island) restrict storage time for all CESQGs. California, Louisiana, and Mississippi each require a maximum storage period of 365 days. Rhode Island restricts the storage period for all generators to a maximum of 90 days (the LQG restriction). In addition, the District of Columbia restricts the storage time to a maximum of 180 days for generators of less than 50 kg/mo and 90 days for generators between 50 kg/mo and 100 kg/mo. Again, let's not forget the state of Kansas. Generators that generate between 25 and 100 kg/mo of hazardous waste in Kansas are considered SQGs and have a storage time limit of 180 days.
With regard to maximum on-site quantity limits, in 1993, 11 states (California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington) had a maximum on-site quantity limit of less than 1,000 kg/mo for all CESQGs. Both Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, because they fully regulate all generators and generators of 50 to 100 kg/mo, respectively, require these generators to comply with the federal accumulation requirements for LQGs. For generators of less than 50 kg/mo, the District of Columbia's accumulation limit is 300 kg.
State Licenses Required for Hauling Wastes and Generator Self-Transport Limits. In 1993, eleven states (Arkansas, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) required all generators of less than 100 kg/mo to use a licensed commercial hazardous waste hauler or to obtain a license if they self- transport the waste. In addition, Michigan and New Jersey require CESQGs to use a licensed hauler or obtain a license only for the transport or self-transport of liquid industrial waste and waste oil, respectively.
Also, Kansas requires the use of a licensed hauler or a license for self-haul if the generator generates between 25 and 100 kg/mo; generators of less than 25 kg/mo need not use a licensed hauler or obtain a license for self-transport. In Massachusetts, CESQGs who wish to self-transport their waste need only to register with the State. In 1993, twelve states (California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Washington) had limits on the amount of waste that CESQGs may self-transport. Self-transport limits ranged from 23 kg in California to 999 kg in Colorado.
State CESQG Manifest Requirements. Under federal regulations, CESQGs are exempt from using a manifest. In 1993, seven states (California, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island), however, required all generators of less than 100 kg/mo to use a manifest. Michigan requires a manifest only for liquid industrial waste and Texas requires only industrial CESQGs to use a manifest. And again, let's not forget the situation with the District of Columbia and the state of Kansas. In the District, generators that generate 50 kg/mo or more must use a manifest and in Kansas generators that generate 25 kg/mo or more must use a manifest.
States Mandating CESQG Waste Management in a Permitted Subtitle C TSDF only. Federal regulations allow CESQGs to manage their hazardous waste in one of three general types of waste management facilities [(1) Subtitle C treatment, storage, disposal facilities or TSDFs; (2) municipal or industrial solid waste facilities; or (3) a recycler].
In 1993, seventeen states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin), however, required these generators to manage their hazardous waste in a permitted Subtitle C TSDF, thus prohibiting disposal in a municipal or industrial waste landfill or other municipal or industrial facility. (A note for those CESQGs in California: briefly reading over some "Legislative Counsel's Digest" articles, it appears that amendments to California law allow CESQGs to use "state authorized household hazardous waste collection facilities". This might be worth checking into.)
In addition, the District of Columbia and Kansas require generators between 50 and 100 kg/mo and 25 and 100 kg/mo, respectively, to manage their waste in a permitted Subtitle C TSDF. Generators of less than 50 kg/mo in the District of Columbia and 25 kg/mo in Kansas may dispose of their waste in a municipal or industrial waste facility. Also, three states (Michigan, New Jersey, and North Dakota) require CESQGs to manage liquid industrial and ignitable wastes in a permitted Subtitle C TSDF.
State CESQG Reporting Requirements. Federal regulations do not require CESQGs to submit annual or biannual reports. In 1993, six states (Arizona, California, Louisiana, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Washington), however, had reporting requirements for all generators of less than 100 kg/mo. California and Rhode Island require CESQGs to report every two years. Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Washington have annual reporting requirements.
In addition, Arkansas requires only those CESQGs with a state identification number to report annually, and Texas requires CESQGs to submit monthly reports and a copy of the manifest only if waste is sent out of the State. The District of Columbia requires generators of 50 to 100 kg/mo to submit reports annually, while Kansas requires generators of 25 to 100 kg/mo to submit reports biennially. Generators of less than 50 kg/mo in the District of Columbia and 25 kg/mo in the State of Kansas are not required to report, as is the case under the federal regulations.
This article is already longer than 40 CFR 261.5 and yet we have just covered the basics.
This article does not give all the answers to questions that may be asked about CESQG's hazardous waste responsibilities. Books have been written on the subject and an article this size cannot cover this topic in full.
One good book that touches on this topic is Hazardous Waste From Small Quantity Generators, Seymour I. Schwartz and Wendy B. Pratt, Island Press, c. 1990. Also called the SQG book, this book gives guidance for businesses and governments on the proper management of hazardous waste from small quantity generators. Although this book is written primarily for the small quantity generator it does mention the conditionally-exempt small quantity generator and can give the CESQG some ideas.
Another good source of information on CESQGs is a report entitled Hazardous Waste From Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators in the Municipal Solid Waste Stream: A Literature Review, U.S. EPA, September 1993. This report is a literature review of several state and local studies that have characterized CESQG waste generation and management practices. The state information in this article comes from that report as well as another report prepared for EPA in July of 1994 entitled Generation and Management of CESQG Waste.
And finally, I work for HGW and Associates, LLC and teach basic RCRA classes. If anyone would like to ask a question about RCRA or any waste issue, I welcome your e-mails.
I hope this article has been helpful and if you have been given responsibility for your CESQG hazardous waste, welcome to the world of RCRA.
Michael White can be reached at: