- Get a license to ensure that you comply with hazardous waste regulations and promote responsible waste management practices.
- Understand the specific requirements and regulations of your state’s environmental agency to complete your application process faster.
- Get all the required documents to support your hazardous waste disposal license application.
Since so much is at stake for human health and the ecosystem when hazardous businesses don’t operate responsibly, they are regulated strictly in the US under the federal and state governments.
This is why getting a hazardous waste disposal license is a must if you want to start and operate your business smoothly. Or else, you may find yourself facing legal consequences.
So, in this comprehensive guide, we will dive into the nuances of hazardous waste permits, understand the role of EPA and state authorities, and explore the application process.
Let’s start by understanding the act under which the requirement of a license was mandated.
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What is an RCRA Permit?
RCRA stands for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It requires Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) of hazardous waste to get a permit.
As the hazardous waste statistics show, they pose a massive risk to the overall ecosystem by handling large volumes of such harmful waste.
Thus, to prevent spills, accidents, and mechanical failures, TSDFs are required to get permission, in the form of an RCRA permit. It establishes the administrative and technical conditions under which waste at the facility must be managed.
In other words, an RCRA permit is a legally binding document that lays the ground rules to define:
- The activities a waste management facility can conduct
- The conditions under which it can conduct them
- Facility design and operation
- Safety standards
- Facility performance activities (e.g., monitoring and reporting)
Sometimes, permits also require facilities to develop emergency plans, find insurance and financial backing, and train employees to handle hazards.
The exact requirements depend on the permitting agency – either your state’s governing body or EPA. It is responsible for monitoring whether the facility is in compliance with the conditions stated in the permit or not.
Recommended: Understand the 4 types of hazardous waste
Will You Need an RCRA Permit?
If you are planning to start a facility to treat, store or dispose of hazardous wastes, you have to get a permit first.
Thus, your TSDF must receive a permit before you begin its construction. This is to make sure that you manage hazardous waste responsibly.
- Permits are granted for a period of up to 10 years.
- You must submit a new permit application six months before your existing permit expires.
You also need to apply for a permit if your TSDF is operating under interim status. Interim status is assigned to:
- Facilities that already existed when RCRA was brought into the picture.
- Facilities that need to be licensed and regulated due to changes in the law.
And of course, if you are under this status, you can continue to operate while your permit application is being reviewed.
You do not need an RCRA permit if you meet any of the following conditions:
- You generate hazardous waste and then store it for a short period of time before transporting the waste off-site.
- You are a transporter of hazardous waste.
- You are an entity performing management activities during an immediate response to an emergency.
You would be wondering what is the difference between state authorities and EPA. So, next, we will understand the relationship between the two.
State Authorization and the RCRA Permit
Each state is expected to assume primary responsibility for implementing the hazardous waste regulations in its region. However, for a state agency to be a regulatory lead for the area, it must be authorized by EPA.
Such a state who has been given the power of final authorization is called the authorized state. RCRA mandates EPA to do this to ensure state programs are at least equivalent to and consistent with federal rules.
Once a state gets authorized, it can implement and enforce its own hazardous waste regulations such that it stays congruent with federal laws.
This national consistency helps states and industries understand what regulations they will face throughout the United States.
How to Get a Hazardous Waste Permit?
Here is the hazardous waste permitting process as per the steps laid out by EPA. Follow them to get your license:
Step 1: Hold a pre-application meeting with the public
Conduct a pre-application meeting and explain your plan for the operation of the facility. The public then may ask questions or give suggestions that you can choose to add to your permit application.
The permitting agency uses the attendance list from the meeting to help set up a mailing list for the facility.
Step 2: Apply for a hazardous waste permit
Part A and Part B make up the two sections of the application for the permit. Basic facts about the facility are needed for the Part A application, which is submitted on a special EPA form.
Part B of the application, unlike Part A, is submitted in narrative form. To give you an idea, here is what you need to address apart from a description of the facility:
- How will the facility be built and run in a way that protects the environment and public health?
- How will you deal with potential crises and spills?
- How are you going to clean up any environmental contamination at your facility and pay for it?
- When it is no longer in use, how will your facility close and tidy up?
Since the regulations of your state’s agency may vary from the federal laws, surely check them out for better compliance with the rules.
Step 3: Wait for the permitting agency to review your application
The permitting agency notifies everyone on the mailing list when it receives a permit application. This indicates that your application has been received by the organization and will be made available for public review.
Along with it, the permitting office starts to examine your application to make sure it has all the details needed to comply with the rules.
If any information is found to be lacking, you may receive a notice of deficiency (NOD) asking you to provide it. This will go on until your hazardous waste permit application is finished. The review and revision process could take several years due to its complexity.
Step 4: Wait for the final decision on your application
Once you have fully completed your application, the agency then makes a preliminary decision about whether to issue or deny the permit.
If the agency decides that the application meets appropriate standards, the agency issues a draft permit containing the conditions under which the facility can operate once you get the final approval.
Remember, thus so far, you have only got a draft permit, not the final one.
Then the permitting agency announces its decision by sending a letter to everyone on the mailing list, placing a notice in a local newspaper, and broadcasting it over the radio.
After carefully considering public comments, it reconsiders the draft permit to make the final decision on whether to give the final approval or not.
Even after the issuance, the agency will continue to monitor the construction and operation of your facility to make sure that you are following state and federal rules.
Once your application is approved, to improve your daily business operation, you have to collect and transport hazardous waste efficiently.
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The processing time for it can vary depending on the specific requirements of your state and the complexity of your operations. However, you can expect it to take some years.
To get a better idea, it is recommended to contact your state’s environmental agency or department for estimated processing times.
Some states may ask for specific training or certification programs for those working in your facility. These programs often cover topics such as proper handling and disposal practices, emergency response procedures, and regulatory compliance.
Operating without a permit can result in significant penalties and legal consequences. Additionally, it poses risks to human health, the environment, and the reputation of your business.
Obtaining a hazardous waste disposal license is non-negotiable if your business deals with such harmful materials. Apart from proper regulation, it also helps to protect the environment and promote responsible hazardous waste management.
So, follow the application process we just mentioned so your business can streamline its operations and contribute to a safer and cleaner environment.
While operating your hazardous waste business, you will definitely need to collect your waste efficiently. So don’t forget to try Upper Route Planner with which you can optimize your routes in a matter of seconds. Start your 7-day FREE trial today.