Hazardous Waste Transportation
Hazardous waste transporters are individuals or entities that move hazardous waste from one site to another by highway, rail, water, or air. Hazardous waste transporters play an integral role in the hazardous waste management system by delivering hazardous waste from its point of generation to ultimate destination. This includes transporting hazardous waste from a generator's site to a facility that can recycle, treat, store or dispose of the waste. It can also include transporting treated hazardous waste to a site for further treatment or disposal.
On this page:
- Who is regulated?
- Requirements for transporters
- Transfer facilities
- Import and export requirements for transporters
- Key resources and documents
Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) defines a hazardous waste transporter as any person engaged in the off-site transportation of the hazardous waste within the United States. Off-site transportation of hazardous waste includes shipments from a hazardous waste generator’s facility or property to another facility for treatment, storage, or disposal.
Transporter regulations do not apply to the on-site transportation of hazardous waste within a facility’s property or boundary. Examples of on-site transportation includes both:
- Generators and TSDFs transporting waste within their facilities, or on their own property, and
- Transportation among geographically contiguous properties, even if the properties are separated by a public road.
In contrast, transporter requirements apply to shipments of hazardous waste between noncontiguous properties that require travel on public roads.
Because hazardous waste transporters move regulated wastes on public roads, highways, rails, and waterways, EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) jointly developed the hazardous waste transporter regulations.
A transporter of hazardous waste is subject to several regulations under RCRA, outlined in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 263, including:
- Obtaining an EPA Identification (ID) Number
EPA keeps track of hazardous waste transporters by requiring each transportation company to obtain an EPA ID number. A transporter is forbidden from transporting hazardous waste if they do not have an ID number. Unlike generator EPA ID numbers, which are site-specific, transporter ID numbers are assigned to the transportation company as a whole. This means that each individual truck uses the number issued to the company’s headquarters location and does not receive its own unique number.
- Complying with EPA’s Hazardous Waste Manifest System
EPA’s hazardous waste manifest system is designed to track hazardous waste from the time it leaves the generator facility where it was produced, until it reaches the off-site waste management facility that will store, treat or dispose of the hazardous waste. The manifesting responsibilities vary depending on the mode of transportation (highway, water, rail or air).
With the exception of certain small quantity generator (SQG) recycling wastes, a transporter may not accept hazardous waste from a generator unless the transporter is provided a properly prepared manifest. When receiving the waste, the transporter must sign and date the manifest to acknowledge receipt and return a copy to the generator before leaving the generator’s property.
With the exception of water and rail shipments, a copy of the manifest must accompany a copy of the shipment of waste at all times. Once a transporter accepts a waste, the transporter is required to deliver the entire quantity of waste to the next designated transporter or facility. When the waste arrives at its next destination, the transporter must have the manifest signed and dated by the recipient. The transporter must keep a copy of the manifest for three years.
Differences for Water and Rail Shipments
Water and rail transporters must comply with the directions on the manifest, obtain an EPA ID number, and be listed on the manifest like highway and air shipments. However, the manifest is not required to physically accompany these shipments at all times. Instead, water and rail transporters can use another shipping document instead of the manifest, provided that it contains the same information as the manifest. Additionally,
- The initial water or rail transporter must sign and date the manifest or shipping document and ensure that it reaches the designated facility, and the final water or rail transporter must ensure that the owner and operator of the designated facility signs the manifest or shipping paper.
- Intermediate water and rail transporters are not required to sign the manifest or shipping paper.
Exemption for Transporters of Certain Recycled or Reclaimed Hazardous Wastes Generated by Small Quantity Generators (SQG)
A special exemption from the manifest requirements exists for transporters who handle certain recycled (or reclaimed) wastes generated by SQGs (See 40 CFR section 263.20 (h)). This exemption is intended to facilitate the recycling of small quantities of hazardous wastes that are transported in a protective manner.
To qualify for this exemption:
- The waste must be reclaimed under a contractual agreement between the SQG and a recycling facility;
- The transporter must record, on shipping or logging paper, the name, address and EPA ID number for the generator of the waste; the quantity of waste accepted; the date the waste is accepted; and all U.S. DOT-required shipping information;
- The transporter must carry the shipping paper or log when transporting waste to the reclamation facility; and
- The vehicle used to transport this waste must be owned and operated by the recycling facility as described in 40 CFR section 262.20 (e)(1)(ii).
Both the generator and the transporter are responsible for keeping a copy of the reclamation agreement on file for three years after the agreement ends.
- Handling Hazardous Waste Discharges
If a transporter discharges or spills hazardous waste, he or she is required to take appropriate, immediate action to protection human health and the environment such as notifying local authorities or diking the discharge area. Additionally:
- If immediate removal of the waste is necessary to protect human health or the environment, then a federal, state or local official may authorize the removal of the waste by transporters who do not have EPA identification numbers and without the preparation of a manifest.
- U.S. DOT may require a written report about the incident outlined in 49 CFR section 171.16.
- When a serious accident or spill occurs, the transporter must notify the National Response Center (NRC) by phone as required by U.S. DOT or the Superfund regulations.
- A transporter must clean up a hazardous waste discharge so that the hazardous waste discharge no longer presents a hazard to human health or the environment.
- Obeying All Applicable U.S. DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations
To avoid discrepancies and redundant regulations, the hazardous waste transporter regulations adopted portions of the U.S. DOT regulations for the safe transport of DOT classified hazardous materials. The DOT references include requirements for labeling, marking, placarding, and containers, and the DOT requirements referenced above for responding to spills. Transporters of hazardous waste should consult and comply with all applicable requirements in the U.S. DOT regulations.
Transporters accepting hazardous waste from a generator or another transporter may need to hold waste temporarily during the normal course of transportation. A transfer facility is defined as any transportation-related facility, such as loading docks, parking areas, storage areas, and other similar areas where shipments are temporarily held. A hazardous waste transporter may hold waste without a storage permit in containers at a transfer facility for 10 days or less as long as the waste is manifested and kept in U.S. DOT specification containers. Storage in stationary containers is prohibited unless the transfer facility has a RCRA permit or interim status.
If a transporter stores waste in containers at a transfer facility for more than 10 days, the transfer facility becomes a storage facility subject to all applicable requirements for treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs).
The regulations governing imports and exports of hazardous waste are primarily found in 40 CFR part 262, subpart E, the section for hazardous waste generators. However, transporters are required to comply with these regulations if they import hazardous waste into the United States.
There are some additional export requirements for transporters found in 40 CFR section 263.20. Transporters who transport hazardous waste out of the United States must:
- Sign and date the manifest in the International Shipments block to indicate the date that the shipment left the United States;
- Retain one copy in accordance with 40 CFR section 263.22(d);
- Return a signed copy of the manifest to the generator; and
- Give a copy of the manifest to a U.S. Customs official at the point of departure from the United States.
If you are interested in learning more about regulations for hazardous waste transporters, the below resources may be of help: