On June 27, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) submitted its final Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals rule (“Pharm Rule”) to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), which is charged with reviewing every final and proposed federal agency rule before its publication in the Federal Register. EPA published its proposed Pharm Rule in the Federal Register on September 25, 2015, nearly three years ago, but the final rule then stalled. According to EPA’s Spring 2018 Unified Agenda, EPA anticipates publishing the final Pharm Rule in October 2018. Sending the rule to OMB yesterday signals that EPA may well issue the final rule in October.
EPA published a proposed rule (83 Fed. Reg. 11654) today that would ease the management standards for aerosol cans. Stakeholders, particularly the retail sector, has pushed for this addition for some time. Currently, once a waste, aerosol cans must often be managed as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), generally because of their ignitability, and thus often are subject to stringent regulations related to handling, transportation, and disposal. Today’s proposal would add aerosol cans to the existing federal list of universal wastes.
On January 3, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the User Fees for the Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest System and Amendments to Manifest Regulations Final Rule (“User Fee Rule” or “Rule”) in the Federal Register (83 Federal Register 420). While the User Fee Rule does not set e-Manifest user fees, it gives EPA authority to establish user fees and establishes the methodology for EPA to do so. The Rule becomes effective June 30, 2018.
On October 25, 2017, EPA Region 6 announced a settlement with Macy’s department stores for alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations. In the press release, EPA alleged that Macy’s generated thousands of pounds of hazardous waste between 2012 – 2015 and qualified as a small-quantity generator but failed to notify EPA and state authorities. EPA also alleged that Macy’s failed to meet the regulatory requirements for small-quantity generators and did not complete appropriate manifests. As part of the settlement, the company is required to pay a $375,000 civil penalty and, as a supplemental environmental project, develop an internal training and audit program. This settlement demonstrates that EPA Region 6 continues to pursue enforcement actions initiated under the former Administration using evidence from data mining of manifests and records related to hazardous waste generators, big and small. With this EPA action, the current Administration appears to be willing to continue its focus on retail hazardous waste enforcement. Troutman Sanders has extensive experience advising clients on retail hazardous waste management and enforcement. Please contact Greg Blount or Angela Levin for further information.
On February 24, 2017, industry groups challenged the final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (“Final Rule”) in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The long-anticipated Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016 (81 Fed. Reg. 85732). Pursuant to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) section 7006, petitioners have ninety days from that date to challenge the rule in the D.C. Circuit. Because the ninety-day deadline to challenge the rule expired on Monday, February 27, 2017, no more challenges may be filed. A previous discussion of the Final Rule and its potential impacts can be found here.
Parties that are potentially responsible for residential environmental contamination in North Carolina face broad exposure and unpredictable outcomes. A recent appellate decision limiting damages commercial property owners can recover for environmental contamination to the diminution in value of the property greatly expanded the potential scope of liability for residential environmental claims. The decision recognized a personal use exception that could require responsible parties to pay well in excess of diminished value to remediate or repair residential property. When property claims are coupled with claims for non-economic injuries for diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions, the potential exposure for responsible parties in residential contamination cases can be considerable and vary greatly. A full summary of the decision is available here.