EPA Proposes Rules to Improve Hazardous Waste Management

Sept. 1, 2015
The rules are designed to protect waterways and reduce regulatory burden on businesses

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing two new hazardous waste rules to strengthen environmental protection while reducing regulatory burden on businesses. One of the proposed rules will protect waterways, including drinking and surface water, by preventing the flushing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and simplify the requirements for healthcare workers. The other rule will provide greater flexibility to industry while requiring new safeguards to protect the public from mismanagement of hazardous waste.

“These rules provide businesses with certainty and the flexibility they need to successfully operate in today’s marketplace,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “The proposals will improve the safety and health of our communities by providing clear, flexible, and protective hazardous waste management standards.”

The proposed hazardous waste pharmaceuticals rule will make drinking and surface water safer and healthier by reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals entering our waterways. EPA’s proposal is projected to prevent the flushing of more than 6,400 tons of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals annually by banning healthcare facilities from flushing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the sink and toilet.

The proposed rule will reduce the burden on healthcare workers and pharmacists working in healthcare facilities by creating a specific set of regulations for these facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and retail stores with pharmacies and reverse distributors that generate hazardous waste.

EPA’s proposed generator rule will enhance the safety of facilities, employees, and the general public by improving labeling of hazardous waste and emergency planning and preparedness. The proposal will also reduce burden by providing greater flexibility in how facilities and employees manage their hazardous waste and make the regulations easier to understand.

EPA solicited public comment on improving hazardous waste management from states, healthcare facilities, retailers, facilities generating hazardous waste, and other key stakeholders. Both proposals directly address the challenges raised by these stakeholders in implementing and complying with hazardous waste regulations.

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

Source: U.S. EPA

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