EPA issues hazardous waste-tracking regs

The Environmental Protection Agency issued regulations Wednesday creating a national electronic system to track hazardous waste.

The rule is designed to transition the country away from an antiquated paper-based system, saving companies and states hundreds of thousands of hours worth of paperwork and tens of millions of dollars in annual compliance costs.

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The regulation paves the way for a new e-Manifest system envisioned in legislation approved in 2012. Beyond lowering costs, the rule is meant to help authorities when spills occur.

“Once fully implemented, the national e-Manifest system will provide greater access for emergency responders to information about the types and sources of hazardous waste that are in transit between generator sites and waste management facilities,” said Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

The rule formally authorizes the use of e-Manifests to track hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, making unnecessary the outdated system of monitoring dangerous waste through millions of paper manifests now required under the statute.

The new system will reduce the burden associated with preparing shipping manifests by between 300,000 and 700,000 hours, according to EPA estimates. It will also yield annual savings totaling more than $75 million for industries and states subject to federal reporting requirements.

The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act requires the system to be up and running by October of next year.