Current Hazardous Waste Management and Disposal Practices among Small Quantity Generators

By Gebrewold, Fetene | Journal of Environmental Health, September 1994 | Go to article overview

Current Hazardous Waste Management and Disposal Practices among Small Quantity Generators


Gebrewold, Fetene, Journal of Environmental Health


In general, there are three categories of hazardous waste generators: Fully Regulated Generators (FRGs), Small Quantity Generators (SQGs), and Conditionall Exempt Generators (CEGs) (1). Fully Regulated Generators are classified as such if in one calendar month they produce on-site, 2,220 or more pounds of hazardou waste, generate more than 220 pounds of spill clean-up debris containing acutel hazardous waste, or accumulate at any time more than 2.2 pounds of acutely hazardous waste. On the other hand, Small Quantity Generators are businesses that are classified as such if in one calendar month, they generate between 220 and 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste and produce 2.2 pounds or less of acutely hazardous waste. Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators are so classified, if in one calendar month, they generate 220 pounds or less of hazardous waste, produce less than 2.2 pounds of acutely hazardous waste, and also generate 220 pounds or less of spill clean-up debris containing acutely hazardous waste. In this paper the latter two generators were studied to assess types and quantities of wastes produced and disposal methods used. Because, historically, small businesses were provided with relatively little government assistance on hazardous waste management and disposal issues, little is known about their practices when compared to large businesses. Small businesses were asked to respond to types and quantities of waste they produced. These categories include the following: waste oils-automotive, industrial, and fuel oils; aqueous liquids-water soluble wastes, including acids and alkalis; halogenated solvents-solvents containing chlorine, fluorine, iodine, etc; non-halogenated solvents-benzene, acetone, toluene; other combustibles-liquids capable of being burned with a flash point of less than 140 [degrees] Fahrenhei (e.g. varnishes, recycled paints, etc.); other non-combustibles-non-flammable liquids with a flashpoint greater than 140 [degrees] Fahrenheit; organic sludge solids-oily residue, solvent steel bottoms; inorganic sludge, solids-dusts, sludges from ink formation, sludges from photographic processes; and other wastes-radioactive waste, freon, antifreeze, ethylene, oxide (2).

Since World War II, there has been a growth in new products based on the use of plastics and chemicals. With this growth, questions have arisen concerning the manner in which hazardous waste disposal is managed or mismanaged. For instance according to a survey by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), 70% of the SQGs (e.g. dry cleaners, auto service and repair shops) are located close t residential neighborhoods and metropolitan areas with large populations (3,4). In general, most of the illegal dumping is done through the sewage systems and on the ground. A similar demographic study conducted by Deyle (2) indicated tha 32% of SQGs disposed of hazardous wastes in public sewers or septic tanks. Some merely store these wastes for indeterminate periods (6,7). A recent incident took place in Clackamas County, Oregon, where 1,313 counts of criminal conduct were filed against a resident of Welcher, Oregon, for the illegal disposal of hazardous wastes on residential property (8). In 1992, Oregon State University (OSU) was fined $2,500 by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for violating a hazardous waste storage permit and for shipping hazardous wastes off-site without a hazardous waste manifest (9).

Insofar as the federal regulatory programs concentrate on the fully regulated businesses, SQGs and CEGs were provided with relatively little assistance or technical advice on issues of waste management. However, during the last few years, the state of Oregon began various support programs and legislative initiatives, and policies were drafted increasing assistance to small businesse to ensure compliance with hazardous waste regulation and management practices. For instance, the Oregon 65th Legislative Assembly determined that Conditionall Exempt Generators did not have access to economically feasible options for the management of hazardous wastes. …

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