hazardous waste disposal

Everything you need to know about hazardous waste disposal

Hazardous waste is generated from many sources and when not well managed, there’s a huge chance that human health and environment get affected. You must partner with Hill Country Medical Waste and you can be assured that hazardous wastes are identified, managed, and treated prior to recycling or disposal. Outsourcing this today from us will be the right decision to make for you and your business.

What is hazardous waste?

Hazardous wastes are leftover materials with composition or properties that make them very harmful to the environment or to people. They include heavy metals, chemicals, or substances generated as byproducts during commercial manufacturing processes. They can also be in of liquids or solids, sludges, or contained gases. Much of this is stored in landfills or other contained areas. Like in any other processes, if hazardous waste isn’t properly designed or managed, its content can contaminate and badly affect the environment and even poses potential health issues and threats to public health.

What is Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

The EPA has delegated to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) the responsibility of tracking hazardous waste generation and disposal within the state of Texas.

Environmental Protection Agency or EPA is a United States federal government agency whose mission is to protect the human health and environment. It seeks that people have clean environment, including the air, water, and land. It is responsible for the detection and prevention of environmental crimes hence it does create and enforce environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the National Environmental Education Act, and the Clean Water Act. Some of the areas not covered by EPA are wetlands, nuclear waste, wildlife, and food safety.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) passed in 1976, was established to set up a framework for the proper management of hazardous waste. Hazardous wastes are regulated from Cradle-to-Grave where “cradle” is the generator of the hazardous waste while “grave” refers to the hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TDSF), or where waste ends up. The law describes the waste management program mandated by Congress that gave EPA authority to develop the RCRA program. The term RCRA is often used interchangeably to refer to the law, regulations and EPA policy and guidance.

The EPA regulates the manufacturing, processing, distribution, and use of chemicals and other pollutants. It was formed in response to known public environmental issues in 1950’s and 1960’s and it religiously enforces its findings through fines, sanctions, and other procedures.

EPA developed The Hazardous Waste Identification Process that helps identify specific substances known to be hazardous and gives criteria for including other materials that can be considered in the process. The agency encourages waste generators to fulfill the process by using the series of questions laid out in the process flow.

  1. The material should be a solid waste. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) defines “solid waste” as any garbage or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution facility and other discarded material from any mining, commercial, agricultural operations, industrial, and other community activities. It is critical to remember that “solid waste” is not limited to wastes that are physically solid. Many solid wastes are liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous materials.

A solid waste is any material that is discarded by being:

  1. Abandoned: This means thrown away. A material is abandoned if is burned, incinerated, sham recycled, or if it is disposed of.
  2. Inherently Waste-like: Some materials pose such a threat to human health and the environment that they are always considered solid wastes; these materials are inherently waste-like. Examples of inherently waste-like materials include certain dioxin-containing wastes.
  3. A discarded military munition: Military munitions are all ammunition products and components produced for or used by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) or U.S. Armed Services for national defense and security. Unused or defective munitions are solid wastes when:
    1. abandoned or treated prior to disposal
    2. rendered non-recyclable or non-usable through deterioration; or
    3. declared a waste by an authorized military official. Used munitions (fired or detonated) may also be solid wastes if collected for storage, recycling, treatment, or disposal.
  4. Recycled in certain ways: A material is recycled if it is used or reused (e.g., as an ingredient in a process), reclaimed, or used in certain ways (used in or on the land in a manner constituting disposal, burned for energy recovery, or accumulated speculatively). Specific exclusions to the definition of solid waste are listed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR section 261.4(a) . Many of these exclusions are related to recycling.

Materials that do not meet this definition are not solid wastes and are not subject to RCRA regulation.

  1. Determine if the waste is specifically excluded from regulation as a solid or hazardous waste. EPA excludes certain solid wastes from the definition of hazardous waste. If a material meets an exclusion from the definition of hazardous waste, it is not considered as a hazardous waste, even if the material technically meets the characteristics or the listing that would normally meet the definition.
  2. Determine if the waste is listed or characteristic hazardous waste. Know the differences of Listed Wastes, Characteristic Wastes, and Mixed Radiological and Hazardous Waste here.
  3. Determine if the waste is delisted. Some facilities filed petitions to EPA to delist their wastes from RCRA Subtitle C regulation which is stated in Code of Federal Regulations part 261, Appendix IX of Title 40.

Hazardous Waste Generators

Generators are the first link in the hazardous waste management system. They have the responsibility to determine and if the wastes they produce are hazardous and must closely monitor that they are properly identified, managed, and treated prior to disposal. EPA has also provided other important details online dedicated to the generators.

Hazardous Waste Transportation

Transporters may help and move the hazardous waste from the generators to facilities and must comply to both the United States Department of Transportation hazardous waste regulations and EPA’s regulations.

When to notify TCEQ

There are certain activities that are exempt from permitting requirements but must still notify the TCEQ at least 90 days before beginning an activity fall into 6 general groups. Know more about the list of groups below when you visit their page here. If there are questions, you can always directly contact TCEQ.

  • Conditionally exempt small quantity generators
  • Farmers disposing of pesticides
  • On-site Processes
  • Types of Treatment Units:
    • Elementary neutralization units
    • Wastewater treatment units
  • Certain Waste Management Activities
    • Emergency response cleanup
    • Treatability studies
  • Specific Types of Facilities
    • POTW or Public owned treatment works
    • Municipal and solid waste management facilities who also manage hazardous waste from a conditionally exempt small quantity generator
    • Totally enclosed treatment facilities
    • Transfer facilities
    • Certain solid waste disposal facilities

Impact on your health and environment of improper hazardous waste disposal

Exposure to hazardous wastes can cause skin or eye irritation, difficulty in breathing, headaches, or any other types of illness. Some may lead to a more severe health threats:

  • cancer,
  • genetic mutations,
  • birth defects,
  • physical deformations,
  • behavioral abnormalities, and
  • physiological malfunctions (e.g. kidney failure, reproductive impairment, etc.)

The environment also suffers when hazardous wastes aren’t disposed properly. These wastes can kill animals and plants, killing other organisms in rivers or lakes, and can even cause reproductive complications in animals.

Some hazardous substance produce toxic effects on humans or the environment after a single (episodic) release is called the acute toxicity while prolonged exposure to the substance leads to chronic toxicity.

With us, Hazardous waste disposal is safe and simplified

Waste disposal is another huge responsibility to take and should be aced all the time. It’s never too late to partner with a reliable and responsible service provider like Hill Country Medical Waste. Our goals are to take care of the hazardous wastes to protect you, your business, and the environment.

Working with us is easy! You can select a flexible scheduling option and can remove your hazardous waste on your preferred date. Start talking to us today by simply requesting for a FREE quote. Allow us to take that worry if you are disposing your wastes correctly because we assure you that we can safely and simply do it for you!

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