EPA Proposes to Add Spent Aerosol Cans to Universal Wastes

Rule Summary

EPA is proposing to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to those “universal wastes” regulated under title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 273. This change in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, once finalized, will reduce regulatory costs of a wide variety of establishments generating and managing aerosol cans, including the retail sector, by providing a clear, practical system for handling discarded aerosol cans.

If approved, States with approved RCRA programs would need to made revisions to State rules.

Four states, California, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, already have universal waste aerosol can programs in place, and two more states, Ohio and Minnesota, have proposed to add aerosol cans to their universal waste regulations.

EPA intends the rule to be limited to sealed containers whose intended use is to dispense a material by means of a propellant or compressed gas.  Other types of containers, including compressed gas canisters and propane cylinders, present a greater risk than aerosol cans and would not be included.

EPA specifically excludes aerosol cans that have been emptied of their contents (both propellant and product). Once the contents of a universal waste aerosol can have been removed, the emptied can is considered a new point of generation and is subject to a hazardous waste determination. An aerosol can that meets the definition of empty container is not subject to hazardous waste regulation, and may be recycled as scrap metal.

The proposed rule also excludes aerosol cans that show evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage that could cause leakage under reasonably foreseeable conditions. Through this exclusion, EPA intends that hazardous waste aerosol cans that are not intact continue to be subject to the full hazardous waste standards.

The streamlined Universal Waste regulations are expected to:

  • Ease regulatory burdens on retail stores and others that discard aerosol cans,
  • Promote the collection and recycling of aerosol cans, and
  • Encourage the development of municipal and commercial programs to reduce the quantity of these wastes going to municipal solid waste landfills or combustors.

The Pre-Publication Notice is available for viewing here.

Current Regulations

Aerosol cans frequently contain flammable propellants such as propane or butane which can cause the aerosol can to demonstrate the hazardous characteristic for ignitability. In addition, the aerosol can may also be a hazardous waste if they contain materials that exhibit hazardous characteristics. Similarly, a discarded aerosol can may also be a P or U-listed hazardous waste if it contains a commercial chemical product. Therefore, for several reasons, spent aerosol cans could be a regulated hazardous waste.

 Rule History

The federal Universal Waste program, established in 1995, creates a streamlined mechanism for collection and recycling of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste. Since 1995, five waste streams have been added to the federal Universal Waste program.

A few states have already added hazardous waste aerosol cans to their state Universal Waste programs. EPA used these state programs as models for this proposed rule.

For more information regarding the Universal Waste program including what types of wastes states have added to their state Universal Waste programs, visit the EPA’s website.

Contributed by Isaac Smith, Environmental Compliance Manager
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Join PPM at the Annual LSWA Environmental Conference

The Louisiana Solid Waste Association Environmental Conference will be held at the Louisiana Cajun Dome on March 14-16 in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The conference will be geared towards “working to preserve Louisiana’s environmental paradise,” and it will also offer the mandatory ethics training for public employees. Attendee registration is available here, and additional information can be found on LSWA’s site.

Please stop by PPM’s booth #20, and drop off your business card for a chance to win one of our great PPM drawings!

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Will We See You at the Gulf Coast Food and Fuel Expo?

PPM is looking forward to the 2018 Gulf Coast Food and Fuel Expo in Biloxi, MS. In 2017 this expo hosted 600 attendees from thirteen states, and it provided opportunities to meet top decision-makers and buyers in the petroleum marketing and convenience store industries.

This year’s annual conference and trade show will be held at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center March 14-15. The main event will feature a large regional tradeshow, but there are also educational sessions, networking events, brand meetings, a cocktail reception, and a golf tournament open to attendees and exhibitors. To register for this event, visit here and to view the schedule visit here.

Come by and see us at booth 722/724 and make sure to drop a business card in our fishbowl for a chance to win a custom Callaway Odyssey putter.

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Environmental Compliance, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Summary of State Programs and Data on Abandoned Underground Storage Tanks and Facilities Report

In December of 2017, the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) published a Summary of State Programs and Data on Abandoned Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) and Facilities Report. The purpose of this report was to collect information about abandoned tank programs nationwide with the intention to share that information with other interested states. All states were given a questionnaire focusing on federally regulated tanks only, and the information gathered was based on responses from 31 states.

The report summarizes and compiles information on a few main points including: how states fund the removal and cleanup of abandoned USTs and facilities, how many abandoned USTs and facilities have these states addressed, and what incentives or unique programs do states have for addressing abandoned USTs and facilities.

Some of the more interesting finding included the three main sources of funding for addressing abandoned facilities. These sources primarily consisted of state petroleum funds, federal leaking underground storage tank funds and brownfield grants. The report states that the average cost to investigate and clean up an abandoned UST site was $60,597 and the average cost for removing a UST was $7,413.  Also included in the report in Appendix A is a list of resources for addressing abandoned tanks and facilities.

From all the information gathered, one key area in which the report provides information is for preventing abandoned USTs. States’ approaches to addressing abandoned tanks and abandoned facilities vary widely like just about every other aspect of the UST program. As reported, some states are successful at getting abandoned tanks removed and cleaning up abandoned sites. This can be because of the use of state funds that are designated for these purposes, or it can be due to unique funding sources.

Abandoned USTs present many unique challenges; however, they can also create opportunities to upgrade the existing site or even repurpose the land for other economic benefit. To see the full report and all of the information gathered, please visit ASTSWMO’s Summary of State Programs and Data on Underground Storage Tanks and Facilities.

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Brownfields, Company News, Environmental Compliance, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Are Risk Management Plans on Your Radar?

Lately we’ve seen increased scrutiny of Risk Management Plans (RMP) and Process Safety Management (PSM) programs by EPA, OSHA, and State regulatory agencies throughout the nation.  This has resulted in an increase in the number of RMP/PSM audits by State and Federal officials.  Audit findings can have a significant negative impact on the facility’s reputation and, in some cases, involve costly litigation.

RMP/PSM regulations are a hot topic especially since recent high-profile chemical releases such as the one at Arkema’s chemical plant in Crosby, Texas.  Arkema’s plant was flooded by Hurricane Harvey, which exceeded 500-year rainfall values, and subsequently lost electricity and the ability to refrigerate organic peroxides.  This loss in operations caused multiple uncontrolled explosions and even forced the facility to ignite the remaining chemicals in a semi-controlled burn.  Many environmental groups used the situation to criticize Arkema’s RMP, which identified floods, hurricanes, power failure, and loss of cooling as threats to the facility yet failed to provide contingency plans to address those concerns.  In September, the EPA officially opened an inquiry into whether the Arkema plant followed federal safety rules (RMP/PSM) to protect against hazards following the explosions and chemical releases.

Additionally, facilities should be aware that the EPA and OSHA have recently issued numerous compliance deviations and penalties for facilities that did not meet certain RMP/PSM deadlines (i.e. equipment inspections, safety reviews, etc.), failed to timely correct compliance audit deficiencies, and/or failed to include the above items in their Title V reporting.  In most cases, RMP compliance is listed as a single Title V Permit Condition, but most often facilities do not take RMP into account when reporting Title V compliance certifications.  This precedent takes into account a facility’s PSM program as well as many of the RMP elements which mirror those of PSM.  By taking this approach, failure to conduct a single Mechanical Integrity check or revalidate a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) by the applicable deadline would result in a Title V deviation.  In one case, the penalty for similar deviations exceeded $375,000.

EPA’s requirement to report RMP deviations in Title V reporting has been around for years, but recently EPA has increased their involvement in issues solely related to RMP — hence more frequent facility audits.  RMP and PSM are closely related yet regulated under separate Federal entities (EPA and OSHA), which can make for some complicated discussions as one attempts to enforce/report compliance across both regulations.

RMP Rule Status

On June 9, 2017, the EPA Administrator signed a final rule to further delay the effective date of the RMP rule amendments until February 19, 2019.  The EPA is conducting a reconsideration proceeding to review objections raised by petitioners to the final RMP amendments rule. This delay of the effective date will allow the EPA to complete the reconsideration process and to consider other issues that may benefit from additional comment.

How PPM Can Help

PPM personnel have experience with everything from initial RMP development, CDX reporting, RMP triennial auditing, five-year RMP updates, PSM development, and PSM auditing.  Regardless of your industry, PPM can assist you with RMP/PSM compliance or evaluate your facility’s existing RMP/PSM Program.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss specific needs, please give us a call.

Contributed by Isaac Smith, Environmental Compliance Manager
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

“Once In, Always In” Is on the Way Out!

In May of 1995, EPA’s John Seitz released a memo that clarified a “Once in, Always in” policy for Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) sources. These sources had a Potential to Emit (PTE) of 10 tons of any single Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) or 25 tons of aggregate HAPs – also known as a “major source”. This memo, in short, required any major source of HAPs subject to a MACT to always comply with the MACT standards to which the facility is subject. For many facilities, this meant that they would be required to obtain a Title V permit and adhere to the requirements of both Title V and MACT standards. This includes Annual Compliance Certifications, Annual Emission Reports, Title V Fees and quarterly or semi-annual MACT reporting among many other requirements such as performance testing.

What if your facility no longer met the PTE thresholds of a “major source”? For instance, maybe the facility was over-ambitious in production estimates at startup and never reached a HAP major source threshold. Perhaps the facility has begun to use a more environmentally friendly product significantly reducing the PTE. Things change over time and so should permitting conditions. Based on Mr. Seitz memo from May of 1995, your facility was still required to keep all the permits and the requirements of a major source.

Until now…

On January 25, 2018, EPA released a new memo rolling back the requirement of the 1995 memo.

EPA states: 

“On January 25, 2018, EPA issued a guidance memorandum withdrawing the “once in always in” policy for the classification of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.  With the new guidance, sources of hazardous air pollutants previously classified as “major sources” may be reclassified as “area” sources at any time, provided the facility limits its potential to emit below major source thresholds.”

Facilities which could potentially benefit from the latest regulatory roll-back should consider that this legislation is very likely to see challenges in court before it is finalized in the Federal Register. Some states are likely to continue the “Once in, Always in” policy until such time that the memo is finalized.

If you would like to know more about how this recent change can affect your facility and how it reduced the regulatory burden of an outdated Title V or MACT standard, consider contacting the Air Permitting specialists at PPM Consultants. See how we can simplify the complexity of your current regulatory status.

Contributed by Paul Hansen, P.E.
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

PPM Consultants Hires Annie Mcilwain as Project Manager

PPM Consultants hires Annie Mcilwain as project manager for the Jackson, Mississippi office. Mcilwain brings six years of experience addressing environmental and health and safety (EHS) compliance and due diligence issues throughout the Southeast.

Her expertise in the design and implementation of large stormwater systems in the petroleum sector has led her to success. Mcilwain’s project background includes stormwater system evaluation, permitting, compliance audits, and compliance programs.

Mcilwain said this when asked what the biggest hurdle is for our clients in regards to environmental compliance today, “I think many clients don’t recognize all the regulations that may be applicable to them.  Oftentimes, clients will ask for an air permit and not think once about looking into wastewater permits or plans or vice versa. When I visit a facility, I always try to make sure that they are addressing each applicable regulation – whether I’m there for a full audit or just one permit.”

Mcilwain holds a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering as well as a Master of Science in engineering science, civil and environmental engineering, all of which are from the University of Mississippi. She is a member of A&WMA, EWRI, and the MMA Steering Committee.

Posted in Blog

Changes to Tier II Hazard Categories

Some of you might be asking yourself, “when did this happen”?  

While the Final Rule behind this change was effective June 13, 2016, the compliance date was pushed to January 1, 2018 in order to provide enough time for states (as well as EPA) to modify the software to incorporate the new hazard classes.

What prompted the change?

Soon after OSHA’s Hazardous Communication Standard (HCS) 2012 final rule was published, many stakeholders requested EPA adopt physical and health hazard classes as described in the revised HCS. The stakeholders expressed that, if the EPA adopted these physical and hazard classes, it would be less burdensome to:   1) The regulated community, as they would only need to copy the chemical hazard information from the MSDS (SDS), and 2) The implementing agencies, as they could more easily compare the hazard information provided on each SDS with the information provided on the list of hazardous chemicals and the inventory form.

What now?

Tier II Chemical Inventory Reports are required to be submitted to State Emergency Response commissions and Local Emergency Planning committees by March 1 of each year with information on chemicals stored on-site the previous year.  Due to changes in OSHA’s hazard definitions, EPA has revised the hazard categories that must be reported on Tier II.  These changes are effective for the Tier II reports due March 1, 2018 for reporting year 2017.

The previous 5 categories were acute health hazard, chronic health hazard, fire physical hazard, sudden release of pressure physical hazard, and reactive physical hazard.  The new categories are as follows:

Physical hazards:

Flammable (gases, aerosols, liquids, or solids)

Gas under pressure



Pyrophoric (liquid or solid)

Oxidizer (liquid, solid, or gas)

Organic peroxide


Pyrophoric gas

Corrosive to metal

In contact with water emits flammable gas

Combustible dust

Hazard Not Otherwise Classified

Health hazards:


Acute toxicity (any route of exposure)

Reproductive toxicity

Skin Corrosion or Irritation

Respiratory or Skin Sensitization

Serious eye damage or eye irritation

Specific target organ toxicity (single or repeated exposure)

Aspiration hazard

Gem cell mutagenicity

Simple asphyxiant

Hazard Not Otherwise Classified

Determining which category (or categories) to report will require reviewing the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each reported material.  This will take additional time beyond that already required to complete the report.

PPM has experience preparing Tier II’s and can assist in reviewing SDS to ensure that the correct hazard category is selected for each reported hazardous material. 

Contributed by Karen Brignac, Environmental Compliance Manager
Posted in Blog

Top Environmental Stories of 2017

Scott Pruitt Heads the Agency He once Challenged: President Trump voiced that his goal was to make a change, and by hiring Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, change was underway. Pruitt is fond of saying, “the future ain’t what it used to be at the EPA,” and that’s become true throughout 2017. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times, challenging its authority to regulate toxic mercury pollution, smog, carbon emissions from power plants and the quality of wetlands and other waters. Pruitt has remained aggressive even as he leads the same agency that he once challenged by reducing the agency’s reach, pausing or reversing numerous environmental rules, and shrinking the EPA’s workforce to Reagan-era levels. One of the biggest changes that Pruitt made was rolling back the Clean Power Plan allowing for less regulation on carbon emissions from power plants. Although Pruitt has become one of Trump’s most effective Cabinet members, he has received criticism from many different groups along the way.

Gulf of Mexico Offerings for Oil and Gas Drilling the Largest Ever: The abundance of drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico has allowed the fossil fuel industry to extract oil and gas for decades. In early November, however, the Trump administration announced the largest gulf lease offering for oil and gas exploration in U.S. history: 77 million acres. Trump’s goal was to push “energy dominance,” and to do so, Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary of the U.S., and President Trump are working towards opening more land to coal excavation in the West. The U.S. has seen oil prices begin to climb after reaching record lows in recent years, but coal is struggling to make a comeback after the rise of natural gas. Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will produce more oil, but it could spell disaster. With any offshore drilling site, the image that comes to mind is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill which was a tragedy where oil spewed into the water for months polluting beaches and marine animals. The industry has learned from this event and has put new protection methods in place thus allowing for Congress to greenlight leases for exploration in the recently passed tax bill.

Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Revived by Trump: Camps of protesters united in Canon Ball, North Dakota for months to fight a pipeline that they argued could threaten the drinking water and cultural sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Just days after President Trump took office , he signed executive orders to revivetwo controversial pipelines that the Obama administration had put on hold — the 1,172-mile Dakota Access and the 1,700-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would extend from the Canadian tar sands region to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The company behind the Keystone XL cleared a key regulatory hurdle this past fall when it received approval from the Nebraska Public Service Commission allowing completion of the northern half of the pipeline, running from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. Trump’s statement on the recent actions was that this is “part of a new era of American energy policy that will lower costs for American families — and very significantly — reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create thousands of jobs right here in America.”

The EPA and the Waters of the U.S.: The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would withdraw Obama’s 2015 “waters of the United States” – or WOTUS – regulation, which expanded the number of waterways covered by the federal Clean Water Act. The withdrawal process is only the first step as the agencies promised a broad review of which waters should fall under federal jurisdiction. “We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, adding that the re-evaluation would be “thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.” The debate over which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act has dragged on for years and remains murky despite two Supreme Court rulings.

Years of Investigation Lead to Criminal Charges in the Flint Water Crisis: After four long years, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged the director of the state’s health department and four other public officials with involuntary manslaughterfor their roles in the Flint water crisis. The manslaughter charges were issued in June, and these were just the latest reckoning. Many people in the community worried that thousands of children were exposed to dangerous levels of lead due to the city’s contaminated water supply. The following investigation justified these worries by discovering the decisions that led to tainted water for nearly 100,000 people in the city. This resulted in 51 criminal charges for 15 state and local officials. It is unclear how many of the charges will stick, b  ut the crisis has even been linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that contributed to at least a dozen deaths. The Flint Water crisis still affects the people of the city today because many residents do not trust the water from the taps nor the public officials charged with ensuring it is safe.

The New Ozone Standards Are on Hold: The ozone pollution rules that are in place say that states need to lower emissions of ozone – a ground-level pollutant found in smog – or ensure stiff penalties for non-compliance. America’s air quality has steadily improved in recent decades without a more stringent standard. The Clean Air Act of 1970 grants the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate the amount of ozone in the air, but they do not directly limit emissions of pollutants. In 2008, the EPA capped the amount of ozone at 75 parts per billion. In 2015, before the 2008 regulations were even implemented fully, the agency changed the standard to 70 ppb. This standard could cause 958 counties to fail to meet the 70 ppb standard, but the House passed a bill in July delaying the implementation of these regulations. The Senate has yet to do the same.

Contributed by Harrison Haley, Marketing Associate
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

EPA Makes Final Attainment Designations for 2015 Ozone NAAQS

On December 21, 2017, EPA responded to state and tribal recommendations by indicating the anticipated area designations for the portions of the country not already designated for the 2015 ozone standards.  These responses will start a 120-day period for states and tribes to provide additional information before EPA determines the final designations.  EPA will also be opening a 30-day comment period for the public to provide input on these designations before they are finalized.

On November 6, 2017, EPA designated 2,646 counties as Attainment/Unclassifiable for which the states recommended a designation of Attainment or Attainment/ Unclassifiable. These are counties with one or more monitors attaining the 2015 ozone NAAQS, or counties for which the EPA does not have reason to believe are violating the 2015 ozone NAAQS or are contributing to a violation of the 2015 ozone NAAQS in another county.  Designations for more than counties remain outstanding.

Although the 70 ppb ozone standard was finalized in 2015, the EPA has yet to finalize how implementation of the rule will be handled.  The EPA has stated that some of the guidance and rules from the 2008 standard remain applicable; however, there continue to be questions on nonattainment classification thresholds and how to address background ozone concentrations.

Counties and areas classified as nonattainment can face significant challenges in the form of air permitting delays, restrictions on industry expansion within the area, as well as impacts to transportation planning.  These challenges commonly lead to reduced economic development in and around the nonattainment area in addition to greater EPA involvement and oversight in air permit permitting.

After nonattainment areas are designated, states will have up to 3 years to produce State Implementation Plans (SIPs), which outline measures to reduce emission levels to attain and/or maintain the NAAQS. SIPs must be codified through an EPA review and go through an approval process which can also take years to complete. Finally, under the Clean Air Act (CAA), actual attainment of the standards is allowed to stretch over a 3-year to 20-year period, depending on the severity of the area’s pollution.

Rule History

  • December 17, 2014 – Ozone NAAQS Proposed Rule published in Federal Register (FR)
  • October 26, 2015 – Ozone NAAQS Final Rule published in FR
  • June 28, 2017 – Scott Pruitt announces 1 year extension (Oct 1, 2018) on initial area designations
  • August 2, 2017 – Scott Pruitt withdraws notice delaying initial area designations
  • October 1, 2017 – Statutory requirement date for initial area designations by EPA
  • November 6, 2017 – EPA designates most of the U.S. “attainable/unclassifiable”
  • December 21, 2017 – EPA responds to state and Tribal Recommendations
Contributed by Isaac Smith, Environmental Compliance Manager
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News