EPA Begins Rulemaking to Revise Program On Imports, Exports of Hazardous Waste

By Anthony Adragna  

Oct. 31 --The Environmental Protection Agency has initiated a rulemaking that would update the requirements for importing or exporting shipments of hazardous waste, the agency confirmed to Bloomberg BNA Oct. 31.

According to the agency, the rulemaking would likely propose that all hazardous waste shipments comply with 40 C.F.R. pt. 262 subpart H, which implements procedures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that currently apply to transboundary shipments of hazardous waste for recycling between the U.S. and most OECD member countries.

Mexico and Canada have separate waste bilateral agreements with the U.S.

Hazardous waste shipments not subjected to the OECD requirements must comply with more general hazardous waste export regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (40 C.F.R. pt. 262 subpart E).

Both of those regulations require export notices, consent from the receiving country to the hazardous waste shipments, reporting to the EPA if an export shipment is returned to the U.S. and annual reporting on hazardous waste shipments, but they have different tracking mechanisms for individual shipments.

The EPA said it anticipates reaching out to affected communities “in the future” and anticipates publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking in October 2014.

Spent Lead Batteries

According to the agency, a report from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation on spent lead battery exports “made EPA aware that improvements are needed in the agency's ability to oversee US exports and imports of hazardous waste” under RCRA. The commission was established by Canada, Mexico, and the United States to implement the environmental side accord of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

That report showed inconsistencies in data maintained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the EPA on spent battery exports and said the U.S., Mexico and Canada needed to improve their management of exports, imports and recycling of the products .

The report recommended that the U.S. require shipment receipt and recovery confirmations for exports of spent lead acid batteries to Canada and Mexico, according to the EPA.

“Because the discrepancies noted in the CEC report … may not be limited only to exports of spent lead acid batteries to Canada and Mexico, EPA is considering proposing to require that all hazardous waste export shipments comply” with the OECD requirements, the agency said.

The agency also said the rule would allow for the electronic verification and submission of all shipping documents prior to departure. Current requirements related to the import or export of hazardous waste are listed under 40 C.F.R. pts. 262-265.

Once completed, the rulemaking would be “expected to have international trade and investment effects, or otherwise may be of interest to our international trading partners.”


To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

Additional information on the rulemaking is available at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opei/RuleGate.nsf/byRIN/2050-AG77#2.