Yesterday, October 31, 2016, U.S. EPA posted the pre-publication version of its final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (“Final Generator Rule”).  The Final Generator Rule was signed by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on October 28, 2016.  This rule has been long in the making and addresses various issues applicable to all hazardous waste generators, regardless of the amount of hazardous waste generated or industry sector.  Other changes significantly alter requirements applicable to Large Quantity Generators and Small Quantity Generators.

Continue Reading

On September 19, 2016, EPA extended the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule report deadline from September 30, 2016 until October 31, 2016. As a reminder, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires manufacturers of chemical substances to periodically report their manufacturing, processing, and use of chemicals listed on the TSCA Inventory.  EPA granted the extension in response to the regulated community’s concerns about delays in CDR Reporting resulting from issues associated with electronic reporting.  This is a one-time extension that does not apply to subsequent submission periods, the next being in 2020.
Continue Reading

Yesterday, U.S. EPA announced a new Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) retail strategy.  This strategy has been long-awaited, given that it has been well over two years since the retail industry commented on EPA’s February 14, 2014 Notice of Data Availability for the Retail Sector (20 Fed. Reg. 8926).  After last year’s release of the proposed Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule and Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals rule, the industry was unclear whether and to what degree EPA would turn back to a potential sector-specific rulemaking.  Yesterday’s release of EPA’s retail strategy, however, confirms that EPA intends to use policy, guidance and rulemaking to fashion a remedy.
Continue Reading

According to the Healthcare Environmental Resource Center, “EPA will not be publishing a rule finalizing the Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Rule in October of 2016 along with the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements final rule and previously projected.”

Pharmacy retailers have anxiously awaited the final Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals rule (80 Fed. Reg. 50,014), after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) published the proposed rule on September 25, 2015 in the Federal Register, but it appears the wait will continue.  Pharmacy retailers have hoped that the final rule would, among other things, provide a means of avoiding Large Quantity Generator (LQG) status and the onerous requirements, which are ill-suited for retailers.  However, based on discussions with U.S. EPA sources, we now understand that the Pharmaceuticals rule is not likely to be finalized before the change in presidential administration.  Given the change in administration, and depending on the election results, we may not see a final Pharmaceuticals rule for years.
Continue Reading

In 2011, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for stricter federal hazardous waste law listing criteria for corrosive dust. Specifically, PEER asked EPA to revise the regulatory value for defining waste as corrosive, moving it from a pH of 12.5 to 11.5. PEER argues that the 11.5 mark is a standard successfully employed by many other international and domestic regulatory programs. PEER also requested a broadening of the scope of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrosivity definition to include nonaqueous wastes, as well as aqueous wastes. PEER believes that the current standard is far less stringent than the presumed safe levels set for alkaline corrosives by other international bodies.  As evidence, PEER cited injuries suffered by first respondents in the aftermath of the 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) attacks.
Continue Reading

EPA defines “environmental justice” as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” On June 7, 2016, EPA released its final version of the Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis (EJ Technical Guidance). EPA previously released a draft version of this guidance on May 9, 2013.  The new guidance complements EPA’s Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of Regulatory Actions, issued in May 2015, which provides direction on when EJ should be considered during the development of a “regulatory action,” and begins to address the issue of how to do so in an analytical fashion. A “regulatory action” is “any substantive action by an agency (normally published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and notices of proposed rulemaking.”
Continue Reading

A recent Eight Circuit decision highlights the difficulties in obtaining class action status in toxic tort actions. In Ebert, et al. v. General Mills, Inc., Class Action Plaintiffs alleged that General Mills released TCE onto the ground and into the environment causing the TCE in soil vapors to threaten homes and businesses in the surrounding neighborhood. 
Continue Reading

In 2014, EPA issued a revised definition of solid waste rule (“Final DSW Rule”). The Final DSW Rule revised certain RCRA recycling exemptions that were first promulgated as part of a 2008 rulemaking (“2008 DSW Rule”). One of the revisions mandates the use of all of the following four factors for determining whether a recycling activity is legitimate:
Continue Reading