I CAN’T DRIVE (over) 55!

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Whenever I hear the song “I Can’t Drive 55”, which made light of the fines and penalties for exceeding the maximum 55 mile an hour national speed limit, implemented by Gerald Ford during the energy crisis of the 1970s, it makes me think of the penalties for exceeding the federal satellite accumulation 55 gallon storage time requirements.

Once a generator of hazardous waste has accumulated 55 gallons of non-acute hazardous waste in their satellite accumulation area (SAA) but, for some reason cannot move that 55 gallons (ie; drum) of hazardous waste out of the satellite accumulation area, and they decide to start accumulating waste in a new drum, one of the containers must be marked with an accumulation date. Do you know which one?

Under the new EPA hazardous waste generator improvements rule, EPA has defined two types of storage areas for hazardous waste, satellite accumulation(SAA) and central accumulation(CAA). Satellite accumulation is where most generators fill their drums and the central accumulation is where they store them, once filled. In fact, the definition of a central accumulation area is an area away from the operators generating the waste, basically, where the 90 or 180 on site accumulation period begins.

Once a container is moved to the central accumulation area, small quantity generators (SQG) must comply with weekly inspections, storage time and marking requirements. Then in addition to the aforementioned SQG requirements, large quantity generators (LQG) also have requirements under AA, BB, CC of Part 265 for clean air

(https://www.hazmat-tsp.com/40-cfr-part-265-subparts-aaee), containers and tanks, storage locations, training and unit closures, once a container is moved to the LQG central accumulation area. Link to Rob’s Blog Better Small Than Large - (https://www.hazmat-tsp.com/robsblog/2018/4/10/better-small-than-large)


With all that being said and even though it was only the satellite accumulation date marking requirements that I was hoping to clarify, I must tell you first, under this new rule, generators of hazardous waste in their satellite accumulation areas, are only given three calendar days to move excess waste out of the satellite area. Which upon failure to, would then elevate the SAA to a CAA, triggering the additional requirements mentioned above for small and large quantity generators.

“Excess hazardous waste” (over the 55 gallons) is the key here!  The 55 gallon drum is not required to be moved from the satellite accumulation area, ever. OK, most generators once the 55 gallon drum is full would move the drum to the central accumulation area and start a new drum of hazardous waste in the satellite accumulation area. 

 But, that’s not the point, the way the regulations are written, a full drum of non-acute hazardous waste or up to 55 gallons, stored in a satellite accumulation area, would never fall under the three day rule under the federal requirements, only excess hazardous waste generated over the 55 gallons, would fall under the three day rule. The full drum is not the issue, it’s the excess waste that EPA is worried about.


OK, now back to my question, if an operator filled a 55 gallon drum of hazardous waste in a satellite accumulation area, then decided to put a second container into the satellite accumulation area, as the operator of the process would like to continue the production run without a shut down, would the generator be required to mark the full drum with the date, or would the generator be required to mark the new container of excess waste with a start date, to comply with the three day rule?

 Well it seems in 40 CFR, the Environmental Protection Agency Part 262, Standards applicable to generators of hazardous waste in sub-paragraph 262.15 (a) (6), states the generator must mark the second container holding the excess waste.

During the three-consecutive-calendar-day period the generator must continue to comply with paragraphs (a)(1) through (5) of this section. The generator must mark or label the container(s) holding the excess accumulation of hazardous waste with the date the excess amount began accumulating.”

It kind of makes sense to me, regardless of or as to whatever issue this situation has arisen, I could see a generator, with both a full drum of non-acute hazardous waste and a drum that was being filled in SSA, within three calendar days, moving the full drum of hazardous waste to the central accumulation area, marking the 90 or 180 day accumulation date on the full drum, then returning to wipe the date off the excess waste container that remained in the satellite accumulation area, as there is no requirement to mark the single drum in the satellite accumulation area under the federal requirements. Or, if the state had “a one year on-site accumulation storage rule”, like California and Pennsylvania, the generator could just leave the excess accumulation date on the drum to document its new start date.


It also seems in the past, many small and large quantity generators would bypass the central accumulation area and send hazardous waste off their site, from the satellite accumulation area for disposal, bypassing the requirements for inclusion of the SAA’s in their Preparedness and Prevention and Contingency Plans. This loophole is now closed, because the new rule requires both satellite and central accumulation areas to be included in the generators Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plans under 40 CFR 262.16 (7) and (8).


 It should also be mentioned, in addition to any accumulation start dates, and regardless of whether a container is in the central or satellite accumulation area, it must be marked with the words “Hazardous Waste “ and an “indication of the hazard”  for the waste inside the drum, such as a DOT hazard class label, OSHA, GHS pictogram or the name of it’s EPA Hazardous Waste Characteristic. 

I think generators should always try to take advantage of the satellite accumulation exceptions, because it’s better to start your 90 or 180 day suspension …ur……… I mean accumulation start date, with the full drum as opposed to starting it with an empty one. If you have any questions on satellite or central accumulation areas, come to my seminar, send an email or give me a call.

Thank you for your leadership and support.

Robert J Keegan

Publisher and President

Hazardous Materials Publishing Company

Transportation Skills Program Inc