2016 will be Full of Waste

April 7, 2016

After remaining mostly status quo for a number of years, many programs dealing with waste and remediation will be changing in 2016 and we will see the implementation of changes that arrived in 2015.

  1. In 2015 we saw the resurrection of an underground storage tank (UST) fund in Michigan, and this year we will now see UST owners and operators taking advantage of these opportunities for newly discovered releases. 2015 also saw the EPA implement new requirements for UST owners/operators.  
  2. 2015 also brought us the passage of the revisions to Part 121, which has the requirements for Liquid Industrial By-Products. Effective on March 16, 2016, these changes do away with requiring the use of the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest. The statute still requires tracking of these shipments, so generators will be working in 2016 to find the best way to implement the more flexible documentation requirements while still meeting all of the tracking elements.
  3. In the fall of 2015 the EPA proposed sweeping changes to the RCRA Hazardous Waste Generator Rules. The comment period closed on the proposed new regulations just before Christmas 2015. The EPA has not given a timeline for when it plans to move forward, but these changes are ones for all RCRA hazardous waste generators to watch.  
  4. The EPA also proposed changes to other areas of RCRA. The proposed Import/Export rule is intended to consolidate the current separate hazardous waste export/import requirements that apply depending on the type of arrangement the United States has with the country into a revised 40 C.F.R. Part 262, Subpart H (to be re-titled “Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste for Recovery or Disposal”). The proposed Pharmaceutical Rule would add a new subpart P to 40 CFR Part 266 to address hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are generated or managed by healthcare facilities and pharmaceutical reverse distributors.  
  5. Environmental cleanups will also see ever-increasing regulatory activity. In Michigan, we are awaiting the arrival in April of the new Part 201 cleanup criteria being developed by MDEQ. The EPA has proposed a rule revision that would add evaluation of sub-surface intrusion into its Hazard Ranking System scoring. States and the EPA also are being mindful of the RCRA 2020 goals, with some EPA regions implementing a “lean” approach to RCRA to achieve these goals. Finally, parties conducting cleanups will continue to deal with the challenges of the ever-changing science on TCE as well as challenges posed by other contaminants like dioxane and PFCs.  

As this shows, 2016 will be a year full of waste-related regulatory activity that affected business will need to continue to monitor.

Contributed by Tammy Helminski, Partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP.