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Arizona’s RCRA Hazardous Waste Rules Updated to Incorporate Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Exclusion and Other Recent Federal Changes

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by John Burnside

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has amended Arizona’s hazardous waste rules to incorporate recent changes to federal regulations. ADEQ published the final updated hazardous waste rules in the Arizona Administrative Register on July 31, 2015, and they became effective September 5, 2015.

Arizona is authorized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to administer the state’s hazardous waste program under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Because state and federal law require Arizona’s program to mirror EPA’s federal program, Arizona’s hazardous waste rules incorporate the federal hazardous waste regulations by reference and are mostly identical to the federal regulations. To maintain authorization, Arizona has a continuing obligation to revise its programs to keep up with changes in federal regulations.

ADEQ’s recent amendments update the general incorporation date in Arizona hazardous waste rules from July 1, 2006 to July 1, 2013. A later incorporate date is established in two Arizona rule sections to capture EPA’s solvent-contaminated wipes rule, which was effective July 31, 2014.

The preamble of the final rule lists the changes in federal hazardous waste regulations that are incorporated into Arizona rules. Many of the changes are technical or particular to specialized industry, but the adoption of EPA’s conditional exclusions for solvent-contaminated wipes is likely to have broad applicability. Wipes contaminated with a solvent—such as shop towels used for cleaning and degreasing tools and equipment—are a very common form of waste in industrial sectors. The new rule conditionally excludes common solvent-contaminated wipes from the definition of solid waste and hazardous waste if the wipes are reused or disposed of in accordance with the rule’s requirements. The requirements are less stringent than those required under the base RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste program and should reduce compliance costs for industry, many of which are small businesses, according the rule’s preamble.

The preamble also lists recent changes in federal regulations that are not incorporated by the final rule. Notably, Arizona has not yet adopted EPA’s controversial revisions to the definition of solid waste that exclude certain hazardous materials from regulation under RCRA Subtitle C. Arizona also has not adopted EPA’s “standardized permit” rule, which would allow simplified permitting for certain classes of hazardous waste facilities. The preamble cites a lack of interest in the regulated community as ADEQ’s reason for not adopting the standardized permit rule.