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Revised Hazardous Waste Export-Import Regulations Effective December 31, 2016

Late last month, EPA published the final rule on Hazardous Waste Export-Import Revisions. While the Final Rule is effective December 31, 2016, EPA-issued Acknowledgments of Consent (AOCs) dated before December 31, 2016 will continue to be valid under the prior rules through their expiration date.

In a recent EPA webinar, EPA indicated that anyone who started a consent process recently will need to apply again per the Final Rule if the AOC is not granted by December 31, 2016. As of now, those wanting to obtain new and renewed AOCs will need to follow the procedure of the Final Rule.

The Final Rule contains three major changes. First, for exports and for imports, one set of requirements (the OECD requirements) applies regardless of country of destination (exports) or of country of origin (imports). The separate export and import requirements are part of a new 40 CFR §262, subpart H, “Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste for Recovery or Disposal”. Second, document processes generally become electronic, instead of paper-based. Some processes become electronic immediately on December 31, 2016 (e.g., export notifications and receiving facility confirmations) while others become temporarily optional (e.g., export consent validation) or are delayed (e.g., export exception report, export/import receipt confirmation, export/import confirmation of recovery/disposal, and import notification). Electronic document processes use either EPA’s Waste Import Export Tracking System (WIETS) (e.g., export notifications) or the Automated Export System (AES) in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Automated Commercial Environment (e.g., export consent validation). Exporters of broken cathode ray tubes (CRTs) or processed CRT glass must file export notifications electronically in WIETS immediately, may use AES or paper documents for export consent validations until required to use AES, and must continue to send paper annual reports to EPA until required to use AES. Third, EPA ID numbers will be immediately required for recognized traders (i.e., brokers). To obtain an EPA (or state) ID number, brokers need to submit a completed Form 8700-12 using business location as the site and noting in Item 13 (Comments) that “the requestor is a recognized trader that arranges for import or export of hazardous waste, universal waste or spent lead batteries subject to Part 262 Subpart H requirements”. A tabular summary of the changes is available here.

The subpart H requirements do not apply to exported or imported materials on the OECD’s “Green list” or “Amber list” if the materials are not hazardous waste in the U.S. However, universal waste and spent lead-acid batteries (SLABs) are subject to 40 CFR §262 subpart H. “Green list” materials are “subject to existing controls normally applied to commercial transactions”. For “Amber list” materials that are hazardous waste in the other country but in not the U.S., “[a]ll responsibilities of the importer or exporter shift to the foreign importer or foreign exporter in the other country that considers the waste hazardous unless the parties make other arrangements through contracts.”

For this Final Rule, EPA has webpages with general FAQs and specific requirements for CRTs, universal waste, and SLABs. Questions about this Final Rule should be directed to David Wagger, chief scientist and director of environmental management at (202) 662-8533.

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