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Frequent Questions About Hazardous Waste Permitting

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What is the duration of a RCRA permit?

RCRA permits are effective for a fixed, 10-year maximum term; however, EPA can issue a permit for less than the allowable term (40 CFR Section 270.50). Limiting permit duration provides a means for EPA to periodically review facilities, so that EPA can update facility requirements to reflect the current hazardous waste management practices.

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I am looking for information about a RCRA permit for a specific company. Where can I find this company’s permit?

Hazardous waste information is contained in RCRAInfo, a national program management and inventory system about hazardous waste handlers. Permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) are required to provide information to states or regional and national EPA offices. You may use the hazardous waste (RCRAInfo) query on the Envirofacts website to locate RCRAInfo information for specific hazardous waste handlers by their facility name or ID number, or location information such as zip code. This site can be used to find a range of information on most treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regarding permit and closure status, compliance with federal and state regulations, and cleanup activities. There is also contact information for the facility, which may be able to provide a copy of the facility's permit.

If you have tried searching through Envirofacts and have not found the information you are seeking, the best resource for obtaining hazardous waste data for a specific site or area is the state environmental agency.

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Where can I find RCRA forms, such as the 8700-23 (Part A), and are they available to be filled out electronically?

Some forms are available to be filled out electronically, but the availability of forms varies from state to state, so check with your state contact

In addition, the Notification of Regulated Waste Activity (EPA Form 8700-12) and RCRA Hazardous Waste Part A Permit Application (EPA Form 8700-23) are available in a printable format.

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Can the implementing agency establish conditions in a facility's permit that are not specified in 40 CFR Parts 264 or 266 through 268 in order to protect human health and the environment?

The implementing agency may establish conditions in a facility's permit that are not specified in the regulations using the omnibus provision in RCRA Section 3005(c)(3). The omnibus provision is codified at 40 CFR 270.32(b)(2).

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How do I apply for a Standardized Permit?

An owner/operator applies for a standardized permit by submitting a Notice of Intent, with supporting documents, to the regulatory authority. The Notice of Intent is not an actual form, but a letter sent to the state informing the regulatory authority that the applicant is applying for a standardized permit. All the additional information mentioned at 40 CFR 270.275 would accompany the letter. The regulatory authority then reviews these submissions to determine whether the applicant is eligible for a standardized permit, and if so, issues a draft permit decision for public comment.

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How long will it take to issue a standardized permit?

The time to issue a standardized permit may vary but will be substantially less than the current permit process. The time from when an owner or operator first applies for a permit, to the issuance of a draft permit for public comment, may take as little as 120 days. After the comments on the draft permit have been addressed, a final permit can be issued. There is no set timeframe for the regulatory authority to address public comments and issue the final permit.

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How long is the term of my Standardized Permit?

The term of a standardized permit is the same as for individual RCRA permits. Generally, the term of a RCRA permit is 10 years. However, because individual states may have different requirements, you need to contact your state environmental authority to get specific information.

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Does the Standardized Permit Rule apply to large quantity generators storing hazardous waste in tanks?

No. The standardized permit rule applies only to those facilities already required to obtain a RCRA permit. Large quantity generators (LQGs) storing waste in tanks are exempt from the RCRA permitting requirements, as long as their waste is stored for less than the time limits established by 40 CFR 262.17(a). If LQGs store beyond the time limits, then a permit must be obtained, and in that case, a standardized permit may be an option, if they meet the eligibility criteria.

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How can the public become involved in the hazardous waste permitting process?

EPA believes that public participation is a vital component of the permitting process. Accordingly, EPA has written regulations that create opportunities for the public to learn about RCRA activities and give input during the permitting process. The preapplication meeting, public comment and response periods, and public hearings are all instances where citizens can engage companies and regulators in a dialogue. In addition, EPA also encourages public participation activities that occur outside the formal permitting process. Citizens can contact environmental, public interest, and civic and community groups that have an interest in the facility and become involved in their activities. The permit applicant may also create informal opportunities for public input and dialogue. 

See Resources on Public Participation in the Hazardous Waste Permitting and Corrective Action Processes and in the following documents: 

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Public Participation Manual (PDF)
Memo, Cotsworth to Regions; September 16, 1999 (RCRA Online #14521)  
Memo, Laws to Regions; December 20, 1995 ( RCRA Online #14044
Memo, Laws to Regions; May 23, 1994 (RCRA Online #14043
Monthly Call Center Report Question; August 1990 ( RCRA Online #13396)
Memo, Thomas to Devereaux; April 30, 1986 (RCRA Online #12633
Memo, Thomas to Bernstein; May 7, 1984 (RCRA Online # 12231)

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What are the public participation requirements for a facility seeking a research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) permit?

The requirements for RD&D permits are found in 40 CFR Section 270.65. Although implementing agencies may waive permit application and issuance requirements for RD&D permits at their discretion, agencies cannot modify or waive regulations or procedures regarding public participation. Thus, facilities seeking RD&D permits must comply with the same public participation requirements (i.e., Part 124) as traditional facilities.

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Can my permitting authority issue a combined RCRA and CAA permit for my facility?

Yes, it is possible. Some states can issue multi-media permits, including both RCRA and the Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements, under joint program authority. These permits must cite the appropriate authority (either CAA or RCRA) for each condition and be signed by the appropriate officials for each program. Each permit condition is then enforced under its respective authority. While these types of permits have been issued successfully, it should be noted that the possibility exists for enforcement under both RCRA and CAA statutes.
 
For more information, see the section entitled "3. What Considerations Were Made for Ease of Implementation?" in the preamble to the final rule at 64 FR 52828, September 30, 1999.

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How does the public benefit from air permits when hazardous waste combustion facilities are also regulated by RCRA??

Air permits contain provisions requiring sources to comply with applicable pollutant emission limitations. The permits can also require sources to operate pollution control equipment in a manner that assures compliance with these emission limitations, and to report time periods when these emission limitations are not achieved. The primary benefit to the public is that air permits limit the emission of air pollutants from a stationary source.
 
For pre-construction permits, also known as New Source Review (NSR) permits, federal law does not allow a source owner/operator to construct or modify a major stationary source unless they can demonstrate that the project will not cause or contribute to a violation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Furthermore, source owner/operators are required to provide the public notice of their proposed construction. Note that a "major" source is defined differently under NSR (see 40 CFR 51.166(b)(1)(i)) than under Title 5 (see 40 CFR 63.2).
 
For operating permits, also known as Title 5 permits, a major source owner/operator is required to compile all applicable air pollution requirements at their source (e.g., existing permit conditions, State Implementation Plan requirements and NSR requirements) for purposes of obtaining one comprehensive permit, the Title 5 permit. An area source owner/operator may also be required to obtain a Title 5 permit, as is the case with the hazardous waste combustors (HWC) National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). See 40 CFR Sections 63.1(c)(2), 70.3 (a) and (b) and 71.3(a) and (b). The Title 5 application and permit requirements for area sources are less inclusive. Your Title 5 permit application, as well as your Title 5 permit, is only required to address the emissions unit(s) which caused your source to be subject to Title 5. The application and permit however, must include all of the applicable requirements that apply to the triggering units (e.g., State Implementation Plan requirements). The Title 5 permit process provides several opportunities for public participation during permit issuance, reopening, renewal, and significant modifications. Note that a "major" source is defined differently under Title 5 (see 40 CFR 63.2) than under NSR (see 40 CFR 51.166(b)(1)(i)). 

RCRA permits are designed to protect human health and the environment by ensuring that all wastes are managed safely. To ensure protectiveness, RCRA permits address facility-wide issues such as corrective action, general facility standards, and unit specific requirements for hazardous waste combustors (HWCs) and other types of hazardous waste management units at the facility. Furthermore, construction of a new hazardous waste management unit cannot begin until a final approved RCRA permit is issued for the unit (see 40 CFR 270.10(f)). Prior to the HWC NESHAP, the combustor-specific portion of RCRA permits set emission standards and operating requirements. Specifically, RCRA permits for HWC facilities set the operating requirements that specify the allowable ranges for critical parameters to ensure compliance with national risk-based emission standards. Compliance with those operating parameters, and thus with the emission standards, is then verified through continuous monitoring required by the RCRA permit. As a result of the HWC NESHAP, the operating requirements and performance standards in the RCRA permits are generally superseded by the technology-based MACT standards and are being placed into Title 5 permits. Regardless of the placement of emission standards and operating requirements for HWCs into Title 5 permits, RCRA permits will still ensure that hazardous wastes are managed properly by addressing: general facility standards, corrective action, other combustor-specific concerns such as materials handling, any risk-based emissions limits and operating requirements as appropriate, and regulation of other hazardous management units at the facility. HWCs will continue to be subject to all public participation and notification requirements required under RCRA (40 CFR 124).

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Can RCRA program staff issue CAA Title 5 permits for sources subject to the HWC NESHAP?

Title 5 permits cover a wide range of requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA). As a result, we expect that the Hazardous Waste Combustors: National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (HWC NESHAP) will constitute just one piece of a Title 5 permit for any given source. While we would not expect the RCRA program staff to issue the Title 5 permit for a hazardous waste combustor, some states may choose to have their RCRA staff develop the combustor portion of the permit. In addition, states also may choose to utilize their RCRA staff in reviewing comprehensive performance test plans and test results. States considering utilizing their RCRA staff expertise may want to explore the flexibility provided by Performance Partnership Grants to strategically move funds, and Performance Partnership Agreements to strategically integrate programs. 

For more information, see the section entitled "3. What Considerations Were Made for Ease of Implementation?" in the preamble to the final rule at 64 FR 52828, September 30, 1999.

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Do facilities still have to complete the SSRA before a RCRA permit decision will be made?

Each RCRA permit issued must be protective of human health and the environment. As discussed above, the Agency does not expect that all facilities will need to complete a site-specific risk assessment (SSRA). This is a matter that is ultimately decided by the State or Regional permitting officials after evaluating a number of guiding factors codified at 40 CFR 270.10(l). Facilities that need an SSRA to assure protectiveness will need to have an SSRA completed prior to RCRA permit issuance and addressed, if appropriate, in the permit. Currently, hazardous waste combustion facilities are complying with the HWC NESHAP. Most facilities conducted SSRAs prior to and after coming into compliance with the HWC NESHAP. Because these facilities still have RCRA permits for hazardous waste management activities, RCRA permit staff will do a "risk check" to ensure that the facilities' emissions continue to be protective of human health and the environment when the RCRA permit is renewed, or if a major change occurs that could increase emissions. If a new hazardous waste combustor is constructed, RCRA staff will still consider whether an SSRA should be conducted prior to issuing a RCRA permit.

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Will the public have the same opportunity to be involved in the Clean Air Act permitting process for hazardous waste combustors as they now have for the RCRA permitting process?

The opportunities for public involvement in the Clean Air act permitting process are commensurate with those in the RCRA permitting process. The public participation requirements for title V permits are identified in Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR) parts 70 and 71, and include such activities as allowing an opportunity for public hearing and public comments on draft permits. In addition, we are requiring an informal public meeting early in the MACT compliance process as part of the requirements for the Notification of Intent to Comply (NIC). This meeting, which provides an opportunity for the public to learn of a facility's plans for compliance, is patterned after the RCRA pre-application meeting. 

We also recommend that once a facility that already has a title V permit completes its performance testing under the MACT requirements, and submits its Notification of Compliance (NOC), that the initial NOC be incorporated into the title V permit using the significant permit revision procedures. The primary rationale for using these procedures is to afford the public an opportunity to review all of the information pertinent to the facility's compliance obligations. We want to ensure a level of public involvement when including operating requirements in title V permits that is commensurate with that under RCRA. In RCRA, operating parameters are initially developed pursuant to trial burns and incorporated into permits either through initial issuance (in the case of facilities operating under RCRA interim status) or through a RCRA class 2 or 3 permit modification (in the case of new facilities). In either situation, significant opportunities exist for public review and input parallel to those under initial title V permit issuance or significant permit modification procedures.

See 70 FR 59520 What Permitting Approach Is EPA Finalizing for New Units?

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What type of modification is required if there are changes at a permitted facility?

Permitted facilities must modify their permits in response to changes at their facility. Both EPA and Facilities can initiate changes to a permit.  Modifications may be required to address such changes as alterations or additions at a facility, new information about the facility, and new regulatory requirements.   EPA has identified different levels of permit modifications, depending on the significance of the change. 

Class 1 permit modifications cover routine changes; class 2 modifications address common or frequently occurring changes needed to maintain a facility's capability to manage wastes safely or to conform with new regulatory requirements; class 3 modifications cover major changes that substantially alter the facility or its operations. 

Over time a facility may need to modify a permit to improve equipment or make changes in response to new standards.  Recognizing this, EPA established procedures early in the program for modifying permits.  The Agency has now revised these procedures to provide more flexibility to both owners and operators of facilities and EPA to increase public involvement. Contact your state hazardous waste office for more information.

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If an owner or operator must make a change to a RCRA permit that is not specified in Appendix I of 40 CFR Section 270.42, what class modification procedures should the permittee follow?

In the case of permit modifications not explicitly listed in Appendix I of Section 270.42, the permittee may submit a Class 3 modification request or may request a determination that the modification be reviewed and approved by the implementing agency as a Class 1 or Class 2 modification (Section 270.42(d)).

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I would like to determine what US disposal facilities can accept tin waste. Where can I find a list of Part B permit facilities?

A waste cannot be hazardous simply because it contains tin.  There is no characteristic for tin and tin is not a hazardous constituent.  See the list of the various types of solid waste landfills.  

A comprehensive list of solid waste landfills and Part B permit facilities can be found on Envirofacts.

References:  40 CFR Section 261.24 and 268.48

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Can generators treat hazardous waste without obtaining a permit?

Generators can treat hazardous waste in tanks, containers, or containment buildings without obtaining a permit or interim status provided they comply with the requirements in 40 CFR 262.17 as well as the unit-specific requirements in Part 265 (51 FR 10146, 10168; March 24, 1986).  Under this provision generators can treat only the hazardous waste generated on site.  A permit would be required to treat hazardous waste consolidated from off-site locations (Memo, Cotsworth to Regions; August 16, 2002 (RCRA Online 14618)).  Furthermore, generators cannot treat hazardous waste by thermal treatment or incineration without obtaining a permit (Call Center Monthly Report Question; January 2003 (RCRA Online 14662)). Thermal treatment is regulated under Part 265, Subpart P; Part 264, Subpart O; 265, Subpart O; Part 264, Subpart X; or Part 266, Subpart H.  In addition, generators who treat hazardous waste to meet the land disposal restriction treatment standards must comply with the notification requirements in Section 268.7(a)(5) and have a waste analysis plan on site (Call Center Monthly Report Question, August 1992 (RCRA Online 13553)). 


Additional guidance regarding generator treatment is available in the following documents: 
Memo, Cotsworth to Steward; October 23, 1998 (RCRA Online 14466)
Memo, Shapiro to Directors; October 17, 1994 (RCRA Online 11881)
Memo, Lowrance to McCarley; September 20, 1991 (RCRA Online 11641)
Call Center Monthly Report Question; January 1988 (RCRA Online 13117)
Memo, Williams to Lenher; July 25, 1986 (RCRA Online 12694)

Note: On November 28, 2016, EPA published the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule, which makes several revisions to the hazardous waste generator regulations. These revisions may affect the information provided in this FAQ. The final rule and additional information, including a fact sheet, frequent questions, and a webinar recording and slides, are available.

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule is effective on May 30, 2017; however, implementation in a particular state depends on the state’s authorization status. A discussion of the effect that this final rule will have on state authorization is available on page 85801 of the rule. Please contact your state program for more information.

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Must owners and operators renew post-closure permits during the post-closure care period?

Owners and operators of land-based units that receive post- closure permits must renew their permits every 10 years during the post-closure care period. Section 3005(c)(3) of RCRA requires that all permits shall be for a fixed term, not to exceed 10 years. Congress enacted this provision to ensure that facilities are periodically reviewed and requirements for them are updated to reflect the current state of the art (50 FR 28702, 28722; July 15, 1985). The term of a RCRA permit cannot be extended by modification beyond 10 years, except for the continuation of an expiring permit as provided under Section 270.51. The owner and operator needs to submit only the information specified in Section 270.28 for the post-closure permit renewal, unless the permitting agency requires additional information.

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Under RCRA, EPA can issue an emergency permit to a facility when imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment exists. What is the term of an emergency permit?

An emergency permit cannot exceed 90 days and may be terminated at any time if the implementing agency determines termination of the permit is appropriate to protect human health and the environment (40 CFR Section 270.61).

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What is a Remedial Action Plan (RAP)?

A RAP is a special form of RCRA permit that an owner or operator may obtain, instead of acquiring a traditional RCRA permit, to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous remediation waste (40 CFR Section 270.80). The RAP regulations are in Part 270, Subpart H.

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When can an owner or operator seeking a permit for a hazardous waste management facility begin construction on the site?

Physical construction can begin on a new hazardous waste management facility after the owner or operator of the facility has submitted Parts A and B of the permit application and received a final effective RCRA permit (40 CFR Section 270.10(f)). Physical construction is defined as excavation, movement of earth, erection of forms or structures, or similar activity to prepare a hazardous waste management facility to accept hazardous waste (Section 270.2).

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When conducting groundwater monitoring at a RCRA permitted facility, must an owner or operator provide a separate groundwater monitoring system for each regulated unit?

Owners or operators are not required to provide separate groundwater monitoring systems for each regulated unit. However, the groundwater monitoring system must be able to detect and measure all constituents that have entered the groundwater in the uppermost aquifer from each of the regulated units (40 CFR Section 264.97(b)).

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Who is required to maintain a permit when a property is owned by one party and leased by another?

Owners and operators of hazardous waste management units must have permits during the active life of the units (40 CFR Section 270.1(c)). A permit for a hazardous waste management unit located on leased property must be signed both by owner of property and operator of the unit. The owner or operator of a facility includes the owner of the land, the owner of the structures, and the operator of the facility or unit. Because both the owner and the operator of facility must sign the permit application (40 CFR 270.10(b)), the two parties are jointly and severally liable for all RCRA requirements, including closure (See also memorandum, Weddle to Cooper; December 13, 1985 (RCRA Online #12515)). 

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What safety signs is a facility storing ignitable or reactive hazardous wastes required to display under RCRA?

When storing ignitable or reactive wastes, facilities must conspicuously place "no smoking" signs wherever there is a hazard from an ignitable waste (for definition of ignitable waste, see 40 CFR Section 261.21) or reactive waste (for definition of reactive waste, see 40 CFR Section 261.23). Facilities should also check with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding other applicable workplace safety requirements. Check with your state agency to see if they have any additional requirements.

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