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Electronic Hazardous Waste Reporting System Begins

By Christine Torres

Hazardous waste labels on containers

The documentation and shipping of hazardous waste is changing. As of June 30, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency’s e-Manifest allows instant, electronic transmission of the uniform manifest form (EPA Form 8700-22), which accompanies shipments of hazardous waste. The paper manifest provides essential information—Federal or State waste codes, for example—that ensures the waste is safely transported, tracked, and disposed of. The move to a digital national hazardous waste tracking system provides real-time tracking of shipments, and will eliminate the paper-intensive process for hazardous waste generators, transporters, and hazardous waste treatment.

It’s been 17 years since the idea of electronic filing of hazardous waste records was proposed by the EPA. In 2012, the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act was established to allow the EPA to design and implement a digital system. Saturday’s launch brings the new e-Manifest system into effect.

Though this system is in effect, the original transition period of 30 days has been extended by an additional 60 days. That means companies must be in full compliance by Sept. 30, 2018. Part of this act requires that the costs of developing and operating the new e-Manifest system be recovered from user fees, which are charged to those who use the e-Manifest system to track off-site shipments of wastes. In January 2018, EPA published its final user fee setting based on the costs of processing manifests, estimating fees will be between $4 and $20 each, depending on the type of manifest. According to the EPA, some of the benefits of eManifest are:

  • Real-time hazardous waste shipment tracking
  • One central manifest data location with timelier, accurate reports
  • Facilities can correct e-Manifest errors before they cause confusion or fines

Dangers of Hazardous Waste

Advances in technology often make the work day easier by simplifying once tedious processes. Simple hazardous waste training mistakes are the No. 1 cause for most violations issued to shippers by DOT hazmat inspectors. According to the Department of Transportation, for fiscal year 2018 there have been 25,776 roadside inspection hazardous materials violations. Of those, 3,550 were related to poor or lack of adequate paperwork. There were 3,666 violations for missing, incomplete and damaged/obscured placards. There were 437 violations for failing to mark the manual remote shutoff device. Lack of training and failure to comply with hazardous waste regulations can result in injuries on the job, a rejected or delayed, fine of as much as $78,000 per day, and more. With the e-Manifest system, DOT officers say they can quickly find a hazardous waste shipper’s information digitally.

Hazardous material labels identify waste in containers

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy criticized a national lab for failing to keep track of a pair of hazardous waste containers, as well as toxic waste that could cause severe lung damage. The DOE inspector found the lab was not keeping track of its inventory properly, and lacked documentation in its waste compliance and tracking system. The lab said it has improved its inspections and monthly compliance checks. Having an electronic reporting system would help ease investigations as well as help hazardous waste sites better manage inventory digitally.

Materials Management

Materials management and worker safety go hand-in-hand. It is important for those working with hazardous waste to be confident in the shipping process. Personnel need to know their responsibilities for keeping dangerous goods shipments safe and in compliance. Employees who know what they are supposed to do and are compliant will work more safely and efficiently. Learn the steps for overall management of hazardous waste to comply with regulations set by the EPA, OSHA, and the DOT. Understand the importance of hazardous materials/waste labels for easy recognition, which help alert workers and others to hazardous waste from safe distances.

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