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Frequent Questions About Managing Hazardous Waste at Academic Laboratories

  • Overview/General

    What is Subpart K?

    On December 1, 2008, EPA added a subpart - Subpart K - to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste generator regulatory requirements in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 262. Its formal name is "Alternative Requirements for Hazardous Waste Determination and Accumulation of Unwanted Material for Laboratories Owned by Colleges and Universities and Other Eligible Academic Entities Formally Affiliated with Colleges and Universities"( volume 73 of the Federal Register starting on page 72912). This alternative set of regulations is specifically tailored to hazardous waste generation patterns in academic laboratories. It allows flexibility regarding where, at the eligible academic entity, the hazardous waste determination may be made, provided certain provisions are met that are designed to protect human health and the environment. Learn more about the December 2008 rule.

    How does this rule help eligible academic entities better manage their laboratory hazardous waste and improve environmental performance?

    The rule helps eligible academic entities safely manage their hazardous laboratory waste by providing them flexibility to make the hazardous waste determination either: 1) in the laboratory before the hazardous waste is removed; 2) at an on-site central accumulation area (CAA); or 3) at an on-site permitted or interim status treatment, storage or disposal facility (TSDF). Previously, the hazardous waste determination was frequently made by individual researchers or students in the laboratory. This action is designed to ensure that persons properly and thoroughly trained in the RCRA hazardous waste regulations are making such determinations for all hazardous wastes generated at the laboratory. EPA believes that this change will reduce the chances of improper hazardous waste determinations and, thus, the possibility of hazardous wastes being improperly managed.

    The rule continues to allow environmental health and safety personnel at the eligible academic entities to determine - campus-wide or facility-wide - whether any of the chemicals or other materials generated in one laboratory may continue to be used in another laboratory. This provides an opportunity to reduce the amount of waste, whether hazardous or not, that is generated in the first place. This rule also encourages laboratories to reduce their inventories of old, outdated or expired chemicals by providing regulatory incentives for conducting laboratory clean-outs, resulting in safer laboratories. Given that the rule is specifically designed for academic laboratory operations, EPA believes that eligible academic entities will have more time to devote to waste minimization efforts, including green chemistry and micro-chemistry.

    What are performance-based standards?

    Performance-based standards provide facilities with flexibility to choose the appropriate manner in which to manage their hazardous wastes in order to meet the requirements of the regulations. Subpart K was developed with performance-based standards in part to account for the diversity among eligible academic entities' operations and practices. This diversity in programs for managing wastes, including hazardous wastes, is also reflective of logistical considerations including campus size, space, personnel, and other resource differences among eligible academic entities.

    How do academic laboratories differ from industrial hazardous waste generators?

    Relative to industrial production facilities, academic laboratories generally have a large number of points of generation (i.e., points where waste is originally generated), such as multiple laboratory benchtops within a single laboratory and laboratories located in multiple buildings on a single campus. Academic laboratories also tend to generate a relatively small volume of each hazardous waste and many different wastestreams at each of these points of generation. In contrast, industrial generators tend to generate only a few wastestreams in large quantities at relatively few generation points. Additionally, while most individuals involved in hazardous waste generation activities are employees who are professionally trained in managing hazardous wastes as part of their job, those who generally generate hazardous waste at laboratories at eligible academic entities are students who do not possess the same level of training. Another contrast between these entities is the transient nature of students in academic laboratory settings and the relative stability of employees in a commercial production or other non-academic laboratory.

    Is this rule mandatory for all laboratories owned by eligible academic entities?

    No. EPA recognizes that hazardous waste management operations vary widely among campuses and some eligible academic entities have developed programs that have proven to be successful and may be reluctant to change to a different set of rules. Therefore, Subpart K is an optional, alternative set of requirements to the standard RCRA generator regulations for Large Quantity Generators (LQGs), Small Quantity Generators (SQGs), and Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs). Those eligible academic entities that choose to continue to manage their laboratory hazardous wastes under the standard RCRA hazardous waste generator regulations may do so. Those eligible academic entities that would like the additional flexibility of Subpart K may choose to manage their laboratory hazardous wastes according to this alternative set of regulations (see 40 CFR 262.202). EPA does not intend for eligible academic entities to make this decision on a laboratory-by-laboratory basis. All laboratories covered under a single EPA ID number at an eligible academic entity must operate under the same set of regulations.

    If an eligible academic entity opts in and operates its laboratories under Subpart K, does the rest of its campus, such as maintenance facilities, continue operating under the standard RCRA generator regulations?

    Yes. Only laboratories owned by eligible academic entities are allowed to operate under Subpart K. The remainder of the campus must continue to operate under the standard RCRA generator regulations (and other applicable RCRA regulations). For example, a typical university will have satellite accumulation areas, central accumulation areas, and universal waste on campus which all have different RCRA requirements. This requires the environmental health and safety professionals at an eligible academic entity to keep track of various RCRA requirements. However, EPA designed Subpart K so that people in the laboratories only have to learn one set of RCRA requirements that apply specifically to laboratory activities.

  • Biennial Reporting under Subpart K

    If an eligible academic entity is a large quantity generator (LQG) and it opts into Subpart K, how does it report laboratory hazardous waste on it Biennial Report?

    If the eligible academic entity remains an LQG after conducting laboratory clean-outs under Subpart K, then all of its hazardous waste is reportable to the Biennial Report including laboratory clean-out hazardous waste. The eligible academic entity must count and report routinely generated laboratory hazardous waste (e.g. spent solvents, spend acids/bases) just as it always has on the GM Form.

    For laboratory clean-out wastes that are not counted towards generator status, the LQG eligible academic entity should generally report them using the source code of G17 in the Biennial Report. In addition, when the eligible academic entity fills out the Site ID form at the beginning of the Biennial Report, the instructions direct the eligible academic entity to indicate in box 10(D) that it is currently operating under Subpart K and what type of eligible academic entity it is.

  • Container Labeling in the Laboratory

    What are the container labeling requirements for a working container?

    Working containers do not have to be labeled like other containers of unwanted material until the end of the procedure or work shift, or until it is full, whichever comes first, at which time they not only have to be closed, but labeled according to 40 CFR 262.206 or put into another container that is closed and labeled according to 40 CFR 262.206.

    If an eligible academic entity identifies in Part I of its LMP how it will impart information that is on an "associated with" label (see 40 CFR 262.214(a)(1)(ii)), must all containers of unwanted material use both an "affixed or attached to" and an "associated with" label?

    No. If an eligible academic entity chooses to use an "associated with" label, it must identify in the enforceable section (Part I) of its LMP how that information will be conveyed. Whenever an "associated label" is used on a container, the eligible academic entity must consistently use the method identified in its LMP. However, the eligible academic entity is not required to use the "associated with" label on all containers. Of course, if the "associated with" label is not used for a particular container, the required information must be included on the "affixed or attached to" label for that container instead. In addition, an eligible academic entity may want to indicate in the same LMP element that it will not use "associated with" labels for every container.

    If a facility has very small containers (e.g., vials or tubes) of hazardous waste that are too small to have an "affixed or attached to" label with the words "unwanted material" and "information to alert emergency responders to the contents of the container," how should the containers be labeled?

    Generally, we would expect the small containers to be placed in a larger container which would have an "affixed or attached to" label and which would have the added benefit of secondary containment should the small containers break. However, other approaches that would achieve the same result also would be acceptable.

    Does the hazardous waste code for each chemical need to be written on the container label in the laboratory?

    Under Subpart K, the hazardous waste code is not required on the label of a container of unwanted material while it is accumulating in the laboratory. The hazardous waste code is required before the hazardous waste is treated or disposed on-site or before it is transported off-site. The hazardous waste code may be on the label that is associated with the container, or on the label that is affixed or attached to the container (see 40 CFR 262.210(b)(2), 262.211(e)(2) and 262.212(e)(2)).

    Does the container label in the laboratory have to read "unwanted material" or can it read "spent," "aqueous," "flammable," "chemical waste," etc.?

    The label that is "affixed or attached to" a container must use a term that indicates that the material is no longer wanted or needed in the laboratory. The term must either be "unwanted material" or another equally effective term (e.g., chemical waste, or laboratory waste) that is used consistently at all the laboratories at the eligible academic entity and is identified in the enforceable section (Part I) of its Laboratory Management Plan (LMP) (see 40 CFR 262.206(a)(1)(i)).

    In addition, the label that is "affixed or attached to" a container must have sufficient information to alert an emergency responder to the contents of the container. Examples of this include the name of the chemical(s), or the type or class of chemical (see 40 CFR 262.206(a)(1)(ii)). The terms "spent" or "aqueous" would not provide enough information to alert emergency responders to the contents of the container. Examples of terms that can provide information needed by an emergency responder include: "flammable," "spent acid," "spent base," "organic solvents," "halogenated organic solvents," or "water reactives."

    In addition, sufficient information to make a hazardous waste determination and the accumulation start date for the container must be included on the container label. This information may be "affixed or attached to" the container, but must at a minimum be "associated with" the container (see 40 CFR 262.206(a)(2)).

  • Container Management in the Laboratory

    Can in-line containers remain open until the end of the day or work shift like working containers?

    No. The provision that allows in-line containers to be vented in order for the equipment to run properly (e.g., HPLC) is a separate provision from the working container provision. The container management standards in 40 CFR 262.206(b)(3) require containers to be kept closed at all times, except under specific circumstances. One such exception to the "closed container rule" is when venting of a container is necessary for the proper operation of laboratory equipment. Therefore, when the equipment is not in use, the in-line containers may not be vented; they must be closed.

    May the contents of working containers be transferred into another unwanted material container?

    Yes. In fact, when a working container is full or at the end of the procedure or work shift, whichever comes first, the contents of the working container must either be emptied into another container of unwanted material that is then closed, or the working container itself must be closed (see 40 CFR 262.206(b)(3)(ii)).

    The Academic Labs Rule contains an exception for a "closed container" where venting of the container is necessary for the operation of equipment or to avoid build-up of dangerous pressure. Does this exception exist under standard RCRA generator rules also?

    No, outside of Subpart K, the federal regulations do not include a similar exception to the "closed container" rule of 40 CFR 262.34(a)(1)(i) and 265.173(a). Generators should generally check with their implementing state or regional agency with questions about how the standard RCRA generator regulations apply to their specific situation.

  • Definition of Central Accumulation Area

    What is the definition of "central accumulation area" for Subpart K?

    The rule defines "central accumulation area" as:
    An on-site hazardous waste accumulation area subject to either § 262.34(a) (or 262.34(j) and (k) for Performance Track members) of this part (large quantity generators); or § 262.34(d)–(f) of this part (small quantity generators). A central accumulation area at an eligible academic entity that chooses to be subject to this subpart must also comply with § 262.211 when accumulating unwanted material and/or hazardous waste (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    Does non-laboratory waste have to be kept separate from laboratory waste if both are received at an on-site central accumulation area (CAA)?

    No, an eligible academic entity is not required to keep laboratory hazardous waste separate from other hazardous waste. Non-laboratory hazardous waste can be consolidated and bulked with laboratory hazardous waste at an on-site CAA, provided the generator meets the requirements of 40 CFR 265.172 regarding the compatibility of hazardous waste with its container and 40 CFR 265.177 regarding special requirements for incompatible wastes. If, however, the hazardous waste originated from a laboratory during a laboratory clean-out and the eligible academic entity intends not to count the laboratory hazardous waste toward its generator status, EPA recommends keeping it separate from non-laboratory hazardous waste to avoid confusion.

  • Definition of Eligible Academic Entity

    What is the definition of "eligible academic entity" for Subpart K?

    The rule defines "eligible academic entity" as:

    A college or university, or a non-profit research institute that is owned by or has a formal written affiliation agreement with a college or university, or a teaching hospital that is owned by or has a formal written affiliation agreement with a college or university (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    May a laboratory that is managed by a university but located in a public building opt into Subpart K?

    No. In order for a laboratory to be eligible to opt into Subpart K it must be owned by an eligible academic entity (see 40 CFR 262.200). Therefore, a laboratory that is managed by a university but located in a public building would not be eligible to opt into Subpart K (unless the owner of the public building is also an eligible academic entity that opts into Subpart K).

    Would a non-profit private research laboratory with an accredited Ph.D. program be allowed to participate in the program?

    A non-profit private research laboratory with an accredited Ph.D. program would be eligible to opt into Subpart K if it (1) is itself a college or university (defined in 40 CFR 262.200 as a private or public post-secondary, degree-granting, academic institution, that is accredited by an accrediting agency listed annually by the U.S. Department of Education), or (2) has a formal written affiliation agreement with a college or university, or (3) is owned by a college or university.

    Are teaching hospital laboratories eligible for Subpart K?

    Yes. A teaching hospital that (1) is owned by a college or university or (2) has a formal written affiliation agreement with a college or university is eligible to opt into Subpart K for its laboratories. A teaching hospital must have a "formal written affiliation agreement" with an accredited medical program or medical school and the affiliation agreement must include a master affiliation agreement as well as a program letter of agreement (as defined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    Government research and development (R&D) laboratories are not eligible academic entities that may opt into Subpart K. If a teaching hospital is owned by a government agency (e.g. the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) is it eligible to opt into Subpart K?

    Under Subpart K, a teaching hospital is defined as a hospital that trains students to become physicians, nurses, or other health or laboratory personnel (see 40 CFR 262.200). A teaching hospital is considered an eligible academic entity that may opt into Subpart K if it is either 1) owned by a college or university, or 2) it has a formal written affiliation with a college or university. Therefore, if a teaching hospital is not owned by a college or university (e.g., a VA Hospital), it must have a formal written affiliation with a college or university to be eligible to opt into Subpart K.

  • Definition of Laboratory

    What is the definition of "laboratory" for Subpart K?

    This rule defines "laboratory" as:
    an area owned by an eligible academic entity where relatively small quantities of chemicals and other substances are used on a non-production basis for teaching or research (or diagnostic purposes at a teaching hospital) and are stored and used in containers that are easily manipulated by one person. Photo laboratories, art studios, and field laboratories are considered laboratories. Areas such as chemical stockrooms and preparatory laboratories that provide a support function to teaching or research laboratories (or diagnostic laboratories at teaching hospitals) are also considered laboratories (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    Would a pharmacy that dispenses drugs in a teaching hospital be considered a laboratory under Subpart K?

    No. A pharmacy is not typically an area used for teaching or research. Thus, a pharmacy does not meet the definition of a laboratory under Subpart K (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    Would a veterinary diagnostic laboratory that is owned by a college and that runs tests for the state be considered a laboratory under Subpart K?

    It depends. Diagnostic laboratories are considered laboratories under Subpart K only if they are at teaching hospitals. If the veterinary diagnostic laboratory is part of a veterinary teaching hospital, then the veterinary diagnostic laboratory would meet the definition of laboratory under Subpart K. On the other hand, if the veterinary diagnostic laboratory is NOT part of a veterinary teaching hospital, then it would NOT meet the definition of laboratory under Subpart K (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    Could a university farm or a field research site be considered a laboratory?

    Yes, if the university farm or field research site is used for teaching or research purposes (and meets the other aspects of the definition of laboratory), it could be considered a laboratory and operate under Subpart K (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    If a college or university teaches vehicle maintenance classes to students or conducts research on vehicles, can this automotive maintenance area be included under Subpart K at my campus?

    An auto maintenance area that only services a university's vehicle fleet would not meet the definition of laboratory because it is not an area used for teaching and research. If, however, an automotive maintenance area is used for teaching or research, it would have to meet all the aspects of the definition of laboratory under Subpart K in order to be eligible to operate under Subpart K. By definition, laboratories are limited to areas where chemicals and other substances are stored in containers that are "easily manipulated by one person." Wastes from vehicle maintenance areas tend to be collected in large containers, such as drums, that are not easily manipulated by one person and thus it would be unlikely that vehicle maintenance classrooms or vehicle research areas would meet the definition of laboratory.

    If an eligible academic entity has nine undergraduate teaching laboratories, a laboratory stockroom and a prep room all interconnected, would this qualify as one laboratory?

    The definition of laboratory does not limit the size of area that would be considered one laboratory. We realize that some laboratories are very large rooms, with multiple work stations, or have interconnected rooms. Subpart K requires regularly scheduled pick-ups of unwanted materials from all laboratories, with volume limits on a per laboratory basis kept as a back-up (see 40 CFR 262.208(a)). We anticipate that time-driven removals of unwanted material will reduce the need to distinguish what is one laboratory versus multiple laboratories. In cases where it is still necessary to distinguish between one laboratory versus multiple laboratories (i.e., when determining whether a laboratory has exceeded 55 gallons of unwanted material (or 1 quart of reactive acutely hazardous unwanted material) in accordance with 40 CFR 262.208(d)), the eligible academic entity should generally contact the regulating state or regional agency for guidance on applying the rule to its specific situation.

    If an eligible academic entity that has opted into Subpart K has a print shop on campus, can the print shop operate under Subpart K?

    No. Subpart K applies only to the laboratories that are owned by eligible academic entities. Print shops would not typically meet the definition of laboratory under 40 CFR 262.200 because they are not used for teaching and research. Thus, a print shop at an eligible academic entity cannot operate under Subpart K.

    Would operations that directly support labs, such as machine shops, housekeeping, or building support be included under Subpart K?

    The definition of laboratory includes "areas such as chemical stockrooms and preparatory laboratories that provide a support function to teaching and research laboratories (or diagnostic laboratories at teaching hospitals)" (see 40 CFR 262.200). Chemical stockrooms and preparatory laboratories are included because they are well integrated with the operation of laboratories; that is they are often in close proximity to the laboratories and share laboratory personnel, and thus are viewed as part of the laboratory. Unless areas such as machine shops, housekeeping, or building support fit this description of "support function," they would not be considered laboratories under Subpart K.

    The definition of a laboratory indicates it is "an area in which…" Is that intended to mean a single room or a single building or a complex of buildings?

    In common usage, sometimes the term "laboratory" is used to refer to an entire institution (e.g., The ABC Laboratory). Under Subpart K, we use the term laboratory to refer to an area owned by an eligible academic entity. Therefore, we would refer to The ABC Laboratory as the facility - or eligible academic entity - which owns many individual laboratories used for teaching and research (see 40 CFR 262.200).

    Would a student health center laboratory be considered a laboratory under Subpart K?

    We assume that a laboratory at a student health center at a college or university would be used for diagnostic purposes. Diagnostic laboratories are considered laboratories only when they are at a teaching hospital that is owned by or has a formal written affiliation agreement with a college or university (see 40 CFR 262.200). If the student health center is part of a teaching hospital, then the diagnostic laboratory would be considered a laboratory under Subpart K. If the student health center is not part of a teaching hospital, then the diagnostic laboratory would not be considered a laboratory under Subpart K.

  • Definition of Unwanted Material

    What is the definition of "unwanted material" for Subpart K?

    The rule defines "unwanted material" as:

    any chemical, mixtures of chemicals, products of experiments, or other material from a laboratory that are no longer needed, wanted, or usable in the laboratory and that are destined for hazardous waste determination by a trained professional. Unwanted material includes reactive acutely hazardous unwanted materials and materials that may eventually be determined not to be a solid or a hazardous waste (see 40 CFR 262.200.

  • Hazardous Waste Determination

    For a large quantity generator (LQG) with an on-site central accumulation area (CAA) operating under 40 CFR 262.34(a), when does the 90-day clock begin: when the unwanted material is received at the CAA or when the hazardous waste determination is made?

    The 90-day clock begins when the unwanted material is received at the LQG's on-site CAA.

    Under 40 CFR 262.210(b)(1), 262.211(e)(1), and 262.212(e)(1), once an unwanted material is determined to be a hazardous waste, an eligible academic entity must write the words "hazardous waste" on the container label that is affixed or attached to the container. If an eligible academic entity packs its laboratory hazardous wastes into a lab pack immediately upon making the hazardous waste determination, do the words "hazardous waste" have to be written on each individual container placed into the lab pack?

    No, if an eligible academic entity places laboratory hazardous waste into a lab pack immediately upon making the hazardous waste determination, it is not necessary to write the words "hazardous waste" on each individual container placed into the lab pack. Since the lab pack is a secondary container for all containers placed within it, it would be sufficient to write the words "hazardous waste" on the label that is affixed or attached to the lab pack to indicate that the hazardous waste determination has been made for the individual containers within it. On the other hand, if an eligible academic entity accumulates the containers of hazardous waste (in a central accumulation area, for example) prior to placing them into a lab pack, each individual container must be labeled with the words "hazardous waste" on the label that is affixed or attached to the container in order to indicate that the hazardous waste determination has been made.

  • Laboratory Clean-outs

    What incentives for voluntary laboratory clean-outs are in Subpart K?

    The frequency with which a laboratory can take advantage of the incentives for laboratory cleanouts is limited to once per 12-month period per laboratory (see 40 CFR 262.213). There are two incentives for conducting a laboratory cleanout:

    1. During a laboratory cleanout, laboratories do not have a volume limit on the amount of unwanted materials generated in the laboratory, only a time limit that unwanted materials may remain in the laboratory (30 days); and
    2. Laboratories are not required to count towards their generator status hazardous wastes from a laboratory clean-out that are unused commercial chemical products (i.e., P- and U- listed hazardous wastes and unused characteristic hazardous wastes) generated during the designated laboratory clean-out period.

    A very small quantity generator (VSQG) operating under Subpart K, does a laboratory clean-out and because the quantity of hazardous waste generated from the clean-out is more than 1 kg of acute hazardous waste, a manifest is required. Is a copy of the manifest a required part of the documentation of that laboratory clean-out?

    No. Three things are required under Subpart K as recordkeeping for laboratory clean-outs. They are: 1) the name of the laboratory that is being cleaned out, 2) the laboratory clean-out start and end dates, and 3) the volume of hazardous waste generated from the laboratory clean-out (see 40 CFR 262.213(a)(4)). When hazardous waste is manifested off-site, the manifest will include the volume of hazardous waste that is being shipped. It is not a requirement of Subpart K to keep a copy of the manifest as documentation of the laboratory clean-out, but it may be helpful to use as part of the laboratory clean-out documentation. However, a fully signed copy of the manifest must be kept for three years in order to comply with the manifest regulations of 40 CFR 262.40(a).

    Is a laboratory defined by a room or by a research group for the purpose of determining the “one clean-out per lab” provision?

    For purposes of the “one clean-out per lab” provision (see 40 CFR 262.213(a)), determining whether a laboratory consists of a single room or multiple or interconnected rooms is not necessary. Any particular laboratory, however delineated, may take advantage of the laboratory clean-out incentives once per twelve month period (see 40 CFR 262.213(a)). Therefore, the clean-out records that the eligible academic entity must keep regarding which laboratories have conducted clean-outs and when must be clear that any particular laboratory is using the clean-out incentives only once per twelve month period (see 40 CFR 262.213(a)(4)).

  • Laboratory Management Plan

    What is the laboratory management plan and what does it include?

    Each eligible academic entity is required to develop a laboratory management plan (LMP) to describe how it will meet the performance-based standards of this rule (see 40 CFR 262.214). The LMP is divided into two parts and must address nine required elements. Part I of the LMP contains two elements necessary for implementers and inspectors. The contents of Part I of the LMP are enforceable. The seven elements in Part II of the LMP must be reasonably addressed; however the specifics of the elements in this part are not enforceable. In fact, EPA envisions Part II of the LMP to be an opportunity for eligible academic entities to develop best management practices for their institutions, further increasing protection of human health and the environment.

    Could one LMP cover all campus locations with multiple EPA ID numbers?

    Yes. One LMP can cover multiple locations with multiple EPA ID numbers, provided all locations covered by the LMP are owned by the same eligible academic entity (see 40 CFR 262.214).

  • Non-laboratory Hazardous Waste

    Does non-laboratory waste have to be kept separate from laboratory waste if both are received at an on-site central accumulation area (CAA)?

    No, an eligible academic entity is not required to keep laboratory hazardous waste separate from other hazardous waste. Non-laboratory hazardous waste can be consolidated and bulked with laboratory hazardous waste at an on-site CAA, provided the generator meets the requirements of 40 CFR 265.172 regarding the compatibility of hazardous waste with its container and 40 CFR 265.177 regarding special requirements for incompatible wastes. If, however, the hazardous waste originated from a laboratory during a laboratory clean-out and the eligible academic entity intends not to count the laboratory hazardous waste toward its generator status, EPA recommends keeping it separate from non-laboratory hazardous waste to avoid confusion.

    Can an eligible academic entity that has opted into Subpart K also accumulate universal waste in its laboratories as unwanted material?

    No. The universal waste regulations in 40 CFR Part 273 provide optional, alternative regulations that operate in lieu of the standard RCRA generator regulations of Part 262 for the management of certain "universal wastes" (such as batteries, fluorescent lamps, etc.). If an eligible academic entity chooses to manage its laboratory hazardous waste (unwanted materials) under Subpart K, it can not accumulate batteries or fluorescent lamps in the laboratory as unwanted materials and then manage them as universal wastes upon removing them from the laboratory. If an eligible academic entity chooses to manage universal wastes under Part 273, it must manage them as universal wastes from the point of generation.

  • On-site Consolidation in the Laboratory

    Under Subpart K can unwanted material from one laboratory be consolidated in another on-site laboratory?

    Yes. Under Subpart K containers of unwanted material MAY be transferred between laboratories, therefore on-site consolidation MAY occur in a laboratory or in a central accumulation area. If the eligible academic entity chooses to consolidate unwanted materials in a "consolidation laboratory" the same time limits apply on how long containers can remain in the laboratory (i.e., maximum of six months) and the same volume limits apply on how much unwanted material may accumulate in the laboratory (i.e., 55 gallons of unwanted material and 1 quart of reactive acutely hazardous unwanted material). In addition, only trained professionals can transfer containers of unwanted material outside the laboratory.

    Under the satellite accumulation area (SAA) regulations of 40 CFR 262.34(c) may working containers be taken from multiple labs (i.e., SAAs) to another SAA for consolidation?

    No, the transfer and consolidation of hazardous waste between SAAs (labs) is not allowed under the SAA regulations of 40 CFR 262.34(c). Subpart K does not change the SAA regulations of 40 CFR 262.34(c); it provides an alternative to the SAA regulations.

  • Opting into Subpart K & Notification

    How does an eligible academic entity notify that it will have its laboratories opt into Subpart K?

    An eligible academic entity must submit a Site Identification Form (Form 8700-12) to the authorized State or Region for each EPA Identification Number (or site, in the absence of an EPA Identification Number) that is opting into Subpart K (see 40 CFR 262.203). EPA has revised the Site Identification Form to include checkboxes for an eligible academic entity to indicate what type of entity it is (i.e., college or university, or teaching hospital or non-profit research institute that is owned by or has a formal written affiliation agreement with a college or university) and that it is opting into Subpart K.

    Where can an eligible academic entity find the EPA Site ID Form (form 8700-12) in order to notify that it is opting into Subpart K?

    The EPA Site ID Form is available from a link on the academic laboratories implementation and compliance assistance website or can be found on the forms site .

    How does a large university that has an affiliated teaching hospital and affiliated medical research institute, all with separate EPA ID numbers, opt into Subpart K in order to implement the rule in each of these institutions?

    Because the decision to opt into Subpart K is made on a site-by-site (or EPA ID number-by-EPA ID Number) basis (see 40 CFR 262.203), the university, affiliated teaching hospital, and affiliated medical research institute each have to make the decision to opt into Subpart K. Each entity would submit their own Site ID form to notify that they are opting into Subpart K. If the three entities shared an EPA ID number, they would be required to opt in together or not at all. However, since the question describes a situation in which all three entities each have separate EPA ID numbers, they are not required to opt in together. In fact, they must each submit a separate Site ID form in order for each to opt in .The university could certainly work with the administrations of each entity to coordinate the timing of opt-in dates. Also, all three entities could coordinate their use of the same laboratory management plan, container labeling procedures, and training programs in order to meet their individual requirements under Subpart K.

    Could an eligible academic entity pilot the Academic Labs Rule in one building and not another building?

    The decision to opt into Subpart K is made on a site-by-site (or EPA Identification number-by-EPA Identification number) basis (see 40 CFR 262.203). So, an eligible academic entity would be able to pilot the Academic Labs Rule in one building and not another building only if the two buildings have different EPA Identification numbers. If both buildings have the same EPA Identification number, then all the laboratories owned by the eligible academic entity that operate under that same EPA Identification number (or that are on-site, for those sites that do not have EPA Identification numbers) must operate under Subpart K once the eligible academic entity has opted into Subpart K (see 40 CFR 262.204). EPA recognizes that institutions may want to pilot Subpart K first, but ultimately EPA encourages eligible academic entities to opt in for all its sites to promote consistency in the management of laboratory hazardous waste within an institution.

    May a university opt-in for one laboratory, but not another within an EPA ID site?

    No. If an eligible academic entity chooses to opt into Subpart K, all the laboratories owned by the eligible academic entity that operate under the same EPA ID Number (or that are on-site, for those sites that do not have EPA ID Numbers) must operate under Subpart K (see 40 CFR 262.204).

    If a university has several campuses and/or off-site laboratories with different EPA ID numbers, would they all have to opt into Subpart K?

    No. If an eligible academic entity has several campuses or off-site laboratories with different EPA ID numbers, and one site chooses to opt into Subpart K, the laboratories at the other sites are not required to opt into Subpart K. The decision to opt into Subpart K is made on a site-by-site (or EPA ID number-by-EPA ID Number) basis (see 40 CFR 262.203). However, in order to promote consistency in the management of laboratory waste within an institution, EPA encourages eligible academic entities to opt in for all its sites.

  • Reactive Acutely Hazardous Unwanted Materials in the Laboratory

    Under Subpart K, there is a 1-quart limit in the laboratory for reactive acutely hazardous unwanted materials (i.e, the six chemicals listed for reactivity).; Is there the same 1-quart limit for the other 118 P-listed chemicals in the laboratory under Subpart K?

    No. Only the reactive acutely hazardous unwanted materials (i.e., the six P-listed chemicals listed for reactivity), have a 1-quart limit in the laboratory (see 40 CFR.262.208(d)(2)). A laboratory have more than 1 quart of unwanted materials of the other 118 P-listed chemicals in the laboratory under Subpart K.

  • Removing Containers of Unwanted Material from the Laboratory

    Is 10 days "calendar days" or "business days"?

    Under Subpart K, 10 days means 10 calendar days (see 40 CFR 262.208(d)(1)(ii) and 262.208(d)(2(ii)). In fact, under Subpart K, any regulatory requirement that includes a reference to days has been specified as calendar days, not business days (see 40 CFR 262.211(d), 262.212(d), and 262.213(a)(1)).

    Under Subpart K, if an eligible academic entity has a wastestream that is generated in such small quantity that it would normally take a year or more before the bottle to be full, must that bottle be removed every six months?

    Yes. Regardless of whether a container of unwanted material is full or not, all containers of unwanted material must be removed from the laboratory at a maximum of every six months. The eligible academic entity has the choice of removing all containers of unwanted materials on a regular interval not to exceed six months, or removing the containers on a rolling six-month basis (see 40 CFR 262.208(a)). The rolling six-month method allows each container to stay in the laboratory a full six months from its accumulation start date. While not a requirement, in this type of situation EPA recommends using the smallest container possible.

    Under Subpart K, once a container of unwanted material has gone to a central accumulation area, can it go back to the laboratory?

    No. A container of unwanted material that has gone to central accumulation area may not be returned to the laboratory to continue accumulating unwanted material if the unwanted material is a hazardous waste. However, if the unwanted material is fit for continued use in another laboratory, then it is a product, not a waste, and may be returned to a laboratory. Otherwise, the only way the container itself can go back to the laboratory is if the unwanted material that was in the container is removed and the container meets the definition of empty (40 CFR 261.7). Then this empty container can return to the laboratory where it must be labeled and dated according to 40 CFR 262.206(a).

  • State Adoption of Subpart K

    When will Subpart K be implemented?

    Subpart K will be implemented at different times in each state. For those states that are not authorized for the RCRA program (Alaska, Iowa, and the Indian Nations, and the territories Puerto Rico, American Samoa, N. Mariana and US Virgin Islands), the rule was effective December 31, 2008. However, EPA authorizes qualified states to administer their own hazardous waste programs, in lieu of the federal program. As a result, new federal requirements such as Subpart K do not take effect in an authorized state until the state adopts the federal requirements as state law. In addition, since Subpart K is not more stringent than the pre-existing standard RCRA generator regulations, authorized states are not required to modify their program to adopt regulations consistent with Subpart K. For a list of states that have adopted Subpart K, see our Where is the Managing Hazardous Waste at Academic Laboratories Rule in Effect? web page.

  • Training of Laboratory Personnel

    Is there an annual refresher training requirement for LQG laboratory workers?

    No. There is no requirement to have annual refresher training for laboratory workers or students at VSQGs, SQGs or LQGs, although we would certainly encourage refresher training on a regular basis to reinforce the training (e.g., with the use of signs or other methods). The eligible academic entity must ensure that laboratory workers and students are able to perform their duties with respect to the management of unwanted materials in the laboratory.

    Are paid graduate students considered laboratory workers or students?

    Under Subpart K, all laboratory personnel - both laboratory workers and students - must be "trained commensurate with their duties" (see 40 CFR 262.207(a)). The distinction between laboratory worker and student affects the requirements for documenting the training provided. Specifically, training records must be kept for laboratory workers at LQGs (see 40 CFR 262.207(c)). No training records are required for students (at LQGs, SQGs, or VSQGs). The pay status of laboratory personnel does not determine whether s/he is considered a laboratory worker or student; the level of supervision laboratory personnel receives in the laboratory determines whether s/he is a laboratory worker. For example, undergraduate and graduate students in a supervised classroom setting are not laboratory workers (see 40 CFR 262.200). On the other hand, undergraduate or graduate students working in an unsupervised research setting would be considered laboratory workers.

    Can I use on-line training at my institution to satisfy the performance-based training requirement?

    Yes, training methods may consist of a variety of approaches including, but not limited to, formal classroom training, electronic on-line training, on-the-job training, written or oral exams, or instruction by a professor or laboratory manager (see 40 CFR 262.207(b)).

    Could a student, trained commensurate with duties, be considered a "trained professional" and thus able to bring containers of unwanted materials from a laboratory to an on-site central accumulation area (CAA)?

    No, under Subpart K, in order for a student to be considered a "trained professional," the student would have to be trained in accordance with the training requirements for trained professionals (see the definition of "trained professional" at 40 CFR 262.200). That is, the student would have to be trained to meet the standard RCRA generator training requirements for SQGs or LQGs (as opposed to the "trained commensurate with duties" performance-based standard under Subpart K). The standard RCRA generator training requirements for SQGs are in 40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(iii) and for LQGs they are in 40 CFR 265.16.