Hazardous waste code revision

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Jan. 19, 2007

The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) announced at a December 15th workshop that they were proposing to replace existing waste codes with more specific codes.  

The DTSC intends that the new coding system would provide more information about the criteria that cause wastes to be hazardous, more specific information about wastes requiring special management and additional information on large volume waste streams.  The new codes would not directly match existing codes and would require generators and facilities to recode wastes.  The proposed regulations would also require generators and waste facilities to retain more documentation about how they have determined their waste codes.

The proposal is in response to AB 241 (Jim Cunneen, R-Cupertino) (Statutes of 1999, Chapter 401) mandating that DTSC distinguish wastes considered hazardous under federal law from those considered hazardous under state law.  It also requires that California’s waste codes be consistent with and not redundant to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) waste codes.  

This proposal, however, appears to go beyond the straightforward waste code system intended by the legislature at the time.  The proposal creates an unduly complex set of new codes that bear only a slight resemblance to the RCRA coding system.  The proposed new system is confusing and its implementation will require considerable cost and effort by generators as well as treatment, storage and disposal facilities throughout the state.

These proposed revisions will affect every waste generator in California. One CMTA member reports that this will create a "paperwork nightmare":

    "All of our waste profiles would have to be amended and there would be multiple codes for one waste, such as used oil. Used oil has four separate codes depending on what type of motor vehicle it came from and whether it has been mixed with something. Similarly, with remedial or removal wastes, there are four separate codes which describe something as contaminated soil verses debris or whether or not it had been approved by a government agency for the removal."

CMTA will submit a letter requesting DTSC to:  1) justify and clarify its need for all the newly proposed codes, 2) provide provisions for a rulemaking process when adding or modifying waste codes, and 3) give the regulated community sufficient time to comply and solve permit modifications without placing additional burden on generators.

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