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You keep using the word generator. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Whenever someone tells me they are a hazardous waste generator, I think of the movie, The Princess Bride. The villain, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) constantly bested, repeatedly retorts with the word “ inconceivable‘. Finally, Inigo Montoya, (Mandy Patinkin), says to him, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means”.

That is because, the word Hazardous waste “generator” really means a hazardous waste treatment storage disposal facility operator  who is under “conditions for exemption” from having a Treatment Storage Disposal Facility, (TSDF) permit under the Environmental Protection Agency in 40 CFR Part 262.1.

However, the worst part is most don’t realize when they do not mark their hazardous waste containers with the words “hazardous waste”, “an indication of the hazard”, (ie: “ignitable”) and the dates of accumulation, in their storage areas, they have failed to meet three of the exceptions in 40 CFR Sections 262.16 and 262.17, which exempts them from maintaining a TSDF permit.

Then the real trouble begins, because your State’s environmental protection agency might not issue you a fine, for those three transgressions, but, they could claim that you have failed to meet one or more of the exceptions that all generators must meet if they do not want to maintain a TSDF permit.

And though it might seem inconceivable to you, your company, could be cited by EPA for operating a “non permitted” treatment storage disposal facility. Any day now, if not already, hazardous waste generators will find themselves under new State and federal EPA, hazardous waste management requirements and interpretations as these amendments become part of approved state programs.

The most important thing to remember about these new regulations is that the “conditions for exemption” are requirements only for hazardous waste generators who do not want to apply for a TSDF permit and, that the “independent requirements” are for all hazardous waste generators whether they apply for a TSDF permit or not.

I have no doubt, you are meeting the older state and federal requirements for hazardous waste determination and recordkeeping, satellite and central accumulation areas and facility and waste storage unit closures. But, here are some of the changes you must now meet or at the very least be prepared for under the EPA’s Federal Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule:

Small quantity generators are or will be required to re-notify EPA of their hazardous waste activities. Currently, under federal regulations, only large quantity generators are required to notify every two years. Under the new rule, all small quantity generators will start re-notifying every four years, starting September 2021.

Both large and small quantity generators must, or will be required to mark their containers in the central and satellite accumulation areas with the words “hazardous waste”,  in addition to the date accumulation begins on central storage area containers and any containers containing excess waste, over 55 gallons, in the satellite accumulation area.

But now, generators shall or will be required to add an “indication of the hazards” of the contents. For example, the name of the waste (ie: ignitable), a Department of Transportation hazard class label or placard, or a hazard warning or pictogram from the OSHA GHS Hazard Communication Requirements. Then as you, who are under the new changes already know, generators must include their waste codes on waste containers before they are allowed to be shipped off site.

You will also find, large quantity generator facility and hazardous waste storage unit clean closure requirements. To certify that each facility, once closed, and each on-site storage unit, when closed, is “clean-closed” properly. Failure to do so may trigger them to be managed as landfills, which, among other nightmares, might entail groundwater monitoring requirements.

Then, not least and not last, you have, or will be required to, beef up your Preparedness, Prevention and Emergency Procedure Plans, by adding new requirements for documenting what arrangements were made to authorities (local hospitals, rescue units, police and fire departments) or at the very least, documentation of the attempts, that were made by the generator.

Also, the next time a large quantity generator writes a new or updates their required Contingency Plan, they must also prepare and make available, a quick reference guide that summarizes the contingency plan, including: the types and amounts of hazardous waste that could be on their property at any one time, any special medical treatments or facilities that might be required, a map of the facility, the surrounding area and nearby fire hydrants.

This quick reference guide would also be required to include the name and contact information for your site’s emergency coordinator.   

And don’t worry just remember, it is not a “faux pas” to use the word “generator”, only not to understand it’s true meaning.

I hope to see you at one of my upcoming seminars. In the meantime, check out the generator improvements rule web page at: , and also visit our website  to order “The Hazardous Materials, Substances  & Wastes Compliance Guide”.

Then if you still have any questions, corrections or concerns call me at (610)683-6721 or email me at

Thank you for your readership and support.

Robert J Keegan
Publisher and President
Hazardous Materials Publishing Company

I love crow.

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I have spent the last 25 years of my professional life eating crow. It has a lot to do with the job. At first, it is really hard to eat, but now I don’t mind, even though I have never liked the taste. I think the secret to enjoying crow, is how it’s served to you. See, as an EPA, DOT, OSHA comedian, instructor and publisher, in my small fiefdom, I reign over the hazardous, materials, waste, chemicals and substances requirements. I do this by covering transportation, environmental and worker protection interfaces, inconsistencies and overlaps, which I feel is the critical interface between these three agencies that everyone who uses chemicals must understand when they ship, store, use or dispose of them.

By memory, I can cite the 49 CFR, 172.200 hazardous materials and waste shipping paper regulations.  I am one of a small crowd that knows why DOT, EPA and OSHA all use the term hazardous substance and know every regulation for and differences between an empty drum, in a truck, a spill or in your plant. I know that testing is never required for a 29 CFR OHSA Safety Data Sheet and that the shipping and disposal sections on them is not mandatory and usually incomplete or wrong.

But, I don’t know my wife’s birthday, not sure how old my children are and sometimes I can’t spell my middle name. That is because, my days are immersed in regulatory subchapters, parts, subparts, sections and paragraphs, then at night as I sleep hazardous materials, hazardous substance, hazardous waste, and hazardous chemicals continue to dance in my head.  

For years, I’ve gone to great lengths, in my seminars, to talk about the 49 CFR 172.400, 4x4 inch square EMPTY label under the department of transportation and its use for empty radioactive containers. Often, it is mistaken for a mark but, it is really a label. I was always under the impression that it was only to be used for empty radioactive containers, to be placed over the diamond shaped radioactive hazard Class label when a container that had ‘previously’ contained a Class 7, radioactive material was being shipped back to the original supplier of the material. But, of course I was wrong. I recently found out the EMPTY label can also be used for empty packaging that formerly contained “any” class of hazardous material.

See, at my last seminar in Honolulu, I was approached at the end of the day, by a very good customer, who told me that I might be mistaken about the EMPTY labels uses, and of course not to embarrass me during the course of the seminar she waited until most of the participants had left. Not only that, she said she also had proof, a letter of interpretation that stated that the radioactive EMPTY label could be used on a container that had previously contained a hazardous material, but, now was completely purged and no longer contained any residue of the previous contents.


I quickly scanned her letter of interpretation and told her “she” obviously misread the letter and I dismissed her, then went surfing. Then, three weeks later on my way home from the seminar in Puerto Rico, I found the copy of her DOT letter tucked into my computer bag. Upon further inspection of the letter, to my horror, I found out that she was correct. Apparently the empty label can be used for containers previously containing any hazardous material. I am such an ass.

It seems this letter of interpretation, #01-0169 on August 20, 2001,  by the department of transportation states :

“Specifically, you ask if the empty label required under 173.428 for an empty radioactive material package may be used for a cleaned and purged packaging that formerly contained a non-radioactive hazardous material.” So, “The answer is yes.” A shipper may apply the empty label depicted in § 172.450 to an empty packaging that formerly contained a hazardous material of any hazard class.”

But, what upset me the most, was the fact that I had not looked at nor discussed the letter, at the time it was originally presented to me. See, I wasn’t wrong, the label is “primarily” used for empty radioactive containers.  I was upset because this customer had only taken the time and effort to show me this information to make sure that my future presentations would be correct, where as I thought it was about her, it was about me.

Even worse, a few years ago I had a representative from one of the state environmental protection agency’s tell me that they were handing out and recommending these 49 CFR DOT mandatory EMPTY class 7, shipping labels for designating empty 40 CFR hazardous waste containers, no longer under the 90 or 180 day storage requirements. Signifying that the containers were, at the very least, below the 1 inch, 2.5 centimeter, federal non-acute empty hazardous waste container requirements under the environmental protection agency for hazardous waste generators under 40 CFR 261.7 Residue of hazardous waste an empty containers.  

At the time I had told him they could be only used for empty radioactive containers, which was wrong. However, in retrospect I would still would not recommend using a department of transportation shipping label to meet an environmental protection agency hazardous waste requirement.

Why would you use a DOT empty label on a container that was not regulated by the department of transportation, especially in light of the requirement to use it on empty radioactive containers. It seems crazy to me for someone to go back in to a regulation they are not under to label a container, that is not regulated under that regulation. Then, if these non RCRA empty packaging with residues were shipped off site for any reason, with the EMPTY marks still a fixed, the shipper would be in violation of 49 CFR 173.29 Empty packaging.

So, obviously, I wanted to update at the very least all of the people, I had personally chastised for using the empty mark for anything other than a container that previously contained a radioactive material. But more importantly, I wanted to say thank you to each and everyone of you that has come up to me after a seminar, called or sent me an email to correct “my” incomplete presentation.  

I still have a client, one of my favorites, who I run seminars for every year, that called me up a few days after his last seminar and pretended he did not know the answer to a question on material I had covered in his seminar. I didn’t realize until I got off the phone with him, that he knew the answer but, he really just wanted me to be the best I could be, without humiliating me.

I can’t think of a better way to be served crow.

If you ever have a question, comment or a correction please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your readership and support.


Robert J. Keegan
Publisher and President
Hazardous Materials Publishing Company

It's what's Inside...


I know you’ve heard the expression, “it is what’s on the inside that counts.” However, that may not be the case if you ship hazardous materials, waste, and substances; in addition to, marine pollutants and/or elevated temperature materials. The Department of Transportation has issued new fines and penalties concerning the closure of packagings of hazardous materials in 49 CFR.

New fines and penalties have been assessed for hazardous material shippers that failed to meet the proper closure requirements for packaging. The general ‘‘No Leak Standard” for all packagings can be found in 173.24(b) and it deals primarily with packaging as a whole, however it is 173.24(f) that focuses on the closure. Also be aware that the Department of Transportation has considered both leak and non- leak scenarios along with the package size to reach the appropriate penalties.

You better hope there is no leak, which if found could increase the fines usually up to 50%. Then, in any circumstance in which a leak comes into contact with a human being, it well could increase the fine by at least 100% (up to $79,976), this of course is only if no one is hurt.

If the violation results in death, serious illness, injury or substantial destruction of property, the  fine amounts would increase. This maximum amount could reach up-wards of $186,610.


—Small bottle or box. .....................................................................................................$1,000

—55-gallon drum. ............................................................................................................$2,500

—Larger container, e.g., IBC; not portable tank or tank car ..............................$5,000


And it’s not just what’s on the inside, apparently DOT also is concerned about what is on the outside. Shippers should be aware that this new rule states, any residue of a hazardous material that is found adhering to the outside packaging in transportation could be a additional fine of up to $5000. This fine again, would only be increased based on human exposure, death, serious injury or substantial destruction of property.

This new rule includes clarification on the liability for shippers who use incorrect, improperly stenciled and unmarked containers. Download a copy of this November 27, 2018 Federal register at  .

We will be covering all these topics and more at the next Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Compliance Seminar, in a city near you. If you have any questions, comments or input please contact me. Thank you for your readership and support.

Robert J. Keegan

Publisher and President

Hazardous Materials Publishing Company

Transportation Skills Programs Inc.