I am inquiring about your answer to the question Chemfilm Disposal , published in the September 2004 issue. Particularly, I am interested in the process of reducing the volume of sludge to reduce the volume and weight of the waste material.
We would commonly take some sludge from the bottom of our soak or electrocleaning tanks, a listed waste, F008, and we would place this into a metal drum. We would then take this drum and place it into an oven to evaporate water out of the sludge.
We know this is a common practice in our area. Our state RCRA hazardous waste inspectors do not approve of this as they say it is not “plumbed in” as part of our waste treatment system.
Could you direct us to some specific regulations why this is an acceptable practice, and why this process and material does not require a hazardous waste treatment permit? R.E.
There is much confusion regarding USEPA’s interpretation of what is or is not “treatment” of hazardous waste. A good place to start is with some terms and how they are defined under USEPA’s hazardous waste regulations, 40CFR260.10:
Furthermore, under 40CFR270.1(c)(2), where are a few exemptions from hazardous waste treatment that we should note:
With these definitions and exemptions in mind, let’s take a look at your situation. Since your waste has an EPA hazardous waste designation of F008, we assume it is from an electroplating operation that contains cyanide (40CFR261.31). Therefore, the waste’s corrosivity (pH > 12.5) is NOT the only reason it is hazardous and would not be able to qualify for elementary neutralization exemption if you would “neutralize” this waste in a tank or container before drying. Also, since this waste material does not fit the definition of a “sludge” as an input into a “sludge dryer,” it does not qualify for the “sludge dryer” exemption (note: since a sludge dryer is excluded from incineration, it is exempt from treatment permitting). Since the material is not treated as part of a wastewater treatment system under a direct discharge permit to surface waters or an indirect discharge permit to public sewer, it does NOT qualify for the wastewater treatment unit exemption. Lastly, the handling of this waste material does not, nor could not in our opinion, feasibly qualify for “totally enclosed treatment facility” exemption.
Based upon our regulatory experience, we would concur with your RCRA inspectors that this practice would require a hazardous waste treatment permit under existing regulations. In fact, we have instructed clients who perform electrocoating with lead-based material NOT to place waste paint material into the cure oven if the waste paint fails Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) for lead, even if the “curing” of the waste paint “locked” up the lead so that it would pass the TCLP test for lead. R.E., in our opinion you have three practical choices. First, you can drum up this material and dispose it as hazardous waste off site by a permitted treatment/disposal facility. Second, if you have a wastewater pretreatment system with cyanide oxidation capabilities, treat the waste stream onsite and it becomes part of your filter press cake. Third, install a batch cyanide treatment system to treat this waste with its discharge to your existing wastewater pretreatment system or a new permitted discharge; with this option, it appears that you could dry the treated sludge, which would have an F006 hazardous waste designation (40CFR261.31) without a hazardous waste treatment permit.
I know this is not the answer you wanted to hear, especially since it is “common practice” in your area, but in our opinion, this “common practice” is not in compliance with hazardous waste regulations.