The term ’’under the control of the operator,’’ for Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAA), was never really defined in the original final rule of the, 40 CFR Environmental Protection Agency Part 262 Hazardous Waste Generators Regulations.

Well, it seems to be a situation where, an operator would have “adequate” control over the satellite waste, be familiar with the operation generating the hazardous waste and be aware of and able to attend to the operations, if needed.

 I only say that with such certainty because an in-house seminar attendee, recently sent me a question on it. So, based on our policy of “service after the sale”, I was forced to look it up in the preamble to the EPA Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule. This final rule, which is now in effect in most states, was published in the Federal Register in Vol. 81, No. 228 on Monday, November 28, 2016. Well, wouldn’t you know, it contains a “under the control of operator” interpretation, on page 85767 (8. middle column).

Link to the federal register Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule at 


 Or, on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule webpage at

https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/final-rule-hazardous-waste-generator-improvements to find out how to start your 90 or 180 day hazardous Waste storage time, with full drums, not empty ones, by taking advantage of Section 262.15 Satellite accumulation for large and small quality generators.

 To paraphrase the preamble, the federal EPA suggests that if the operator controls access to an area, building, or room in which the SAA is located, or if the operator accumulates waste in a locked cabinet, that would be considered to be ‘‘under the control of the operator” even “if the cabinet were stored inside a room to which access is not controlled”.

And apparently, there can be more than one operator per each SAA, as in the case of employee shift changes, so that the role of the operator can be transferred from one worker to another. They also have no problem with more than one operator using the same SAA, at the same time. Such a situations where lab operators in the same room are all sharing the same hazardous waste container, located in a single SAA. 

EPA writes regulations, but others enforce them. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) in the preamble seemed to feel it was where the operator is regularly within view of the SAA during the course of their job, or where the operator can observe individuals that enter or exit the SAA. Which seems to be in stark contrast to the District of Columbia (DC) Department of Energy and Environment, who commented , “under control of the operator” would not include situations where the waste cannot be seen unless the area is equipped with 24 hour video surveillance or 24 hour sensor surveillance. 

That being said, you should be aware of what is not up for interpretation, such as the time waste over 55 gallons may now be accumulated in the satellite accumulation area. States will now require any excess waste over 55 gallons be moved to the central accumulation area within 3 calendar days and that any container containing waste in excess of the 55 gallons, that remains in the satellite accumulation area be marked with its accumulation start date. Failure to move containers containing waste in excess of 55 gallons, within 3 days in a satellite accumulation area would make it, a Central Accumulation Area, that could trigger weekly inspections, record keeping and clean-closure requirements.

None of this precludes, any additional mandatory state requirements  such as in California, Washington and Pennsylvania, just to name a few, for marking, recordkeeping and storage times that are more restrictive.

I am sure glad that I don’t generate, store or dispose of hazardous waste, even though I have to spend most of my time thinking about it. So, if you have a question, regardless of whether you are a past, present or future seminar attendee, (or not), let me earn my keep, as wait for my first seminar with the new 2019/2020 Hazardous Material, Substances and Waste Compliance Guide in Anchorage in September.

Thanks for your readership and support.

Robert J Keegan 
Publisher and President 
Hazardous Materials Publishing Company
Transportation Skills Programs Inc