- In an effort to enforce rules about hazardous waste collection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is fining small companies for improper classification, recording or reporting of hazardous waste. EPA is analyzing data the companies are providing to waste-disposal companies. Suzanne Murray of Hayes and Boone wrote a client memo on the action, saying EPA is using "data mining" and "new monitoring techniques," adding, "Folks who were not traditionally concerned about this probably should become educated about what they have at their operations."
- EPA found many of these companies are either not reporting their waste or are incorrectly classifying themselves because they don't understand the quantities of hazardous waste they are generating. The types of companies coming under scrutiny include small hospitals, medical labs and retailers. "They are not meeting these requirements, not keeping records, not filing biannual reports to EPA, not making local emergency response people aware of the hazardous materials they have," said Murray.
- EPA in September proposed some rules changes addressing hazardous waste collection, storage and recordkeeping.
Hazardous waste is a tricky topic in the industry. By taking this action, the EPA is showing a clear focus on public and environmental safety.
And EPA's proposed rules changes could clarify the situation for small companies, Murray told the Wall Street Journal. Proper reporting is important, she said, noting the 2013 explosion at a West, TX fertilizer plant that killed 15 people and injured 200. "The local emergency response people didn't know the facility was even there, or what was stored," she said.