By Laurence Hren, Onsite Support Services Coordinator
In my recent experience with EPA inspections focused toward laboratory and hazardous waste management, it has become apparent that preparation for a surprise inspection is every bit as important as properly responding to an inspection. While this is by no means an all-inclusive guide to successfully handling an EPA inspection, the following should serve as an outline of key points to consider prior to and during an inspection:
- Is your emergency contact information accurate and up to date?
- This may be one of the first things an inspector delves into upon arrival at your facility. Additionally, it is important to test your primary and secondary methods of acquiring an MSDS in the event of an emergency. For example: if you have identified that MSDS's will be obtained via the internet in the event of an emergency, you should also be sure that you are familiar with an alternative method such as calling an emergency MSDS hotline and that an MSDS can be faxed to your facility on short order.
- Is your Main Accumulation Area (MAA) well maintained, in compliance, and is your weekly MAA inspection log complete and up to date?
- Proper MAA maintenance is intrinsically linked to running a top notch Haz-Waste management program at your facility. Deficiencies during this portion of an EPA inspection will most likely lead to a higher level of scrutiny during the remainder of the inspection. Be sure that you are completely in compliance with MAA regulations and that the space is as clean and organized as possible. Don't forget to make sure all emergency contact info is conspicuously posted and a phone is located inside of or very close by the MAA
- Weekly MAA inspection logs are to be kept on file for 3 years. It is crucial that there are no gaps in the records. Be sure to take into account long weekends and holiday schedules. If you can present a simple SOP geared towards accommodating for such circumstances, all the better!
- How well are your laboratories maintained? Are training records kept on file and readily available?
- Once inside the lab, an inspector will most likely ‘interview' lab staff. Questions will focus on waste management, safety procedures, and chemical compatibility issues in your chemical storage cabinets.
- RCRA is all about records. Be sure that all laboratory training records and lab SOPs are available.
- Out of date, unusable, or excessive amounts of chemicals should not be stored in the lab. Chemical storage/labeling issues raise a red flag, and are viewed as an indicator of poor lab practices
The main thing to keep in mind during an inspection is to remain calm and answer all questions honestly and to the best of your ability. Never try to down-play compliance issues as a means to dissuade the inspector from looking into them. Dedication to running an exemplary program goes a long way.
By Rick Foote, Senior Environmental Compliance Advisor
All batteries are subject to requirements in the DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations.
This is because they have two types of hazards:
(1) The chemicals or other materials contained in the battery, and
(2) The electrical potential of the battery.
All batteries must be packaged for transportation in the following manner:
Lithium Batteries-The terminals must either be taped or placed in a plastic bag to ensure no contact between battery terminals
Wet Batteries (electrolyte/alkaline)-These types of batteries must be packed alone and not with any other materials. The terminals must be protected to ensure they do not come in contact with other batteries. The exposed terminals can be protected with non-conductive caps, or non-conductive tape.
Sodium Batteries-These types of batteries must be secured to prevent shifting while in a vehicle. They also must have adequate ventilation and separation between batteries to ensure they do not overheat. Additionally, if there is other freight on the vehicle the batteries must be stored no less than 1.6 feet away.
Dry batteries (alkaline, nickel cadmium (NiCad), nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and silver-zinc batteries) - These types of batteries are not covered under the Hazardous Materials regulations as long as they follow these requirements:
- Packaged as to prevent the buildup of heat.
- This can be accomplished by one of the following methods:
- Taping the terminals and ensuring that the container is compatible with the batteries.
- Placing the batteries in a plastic bag
- Separating the batteries individually
By Kristina Florentino, Environmental Compliance Specialist
An emerging environmental health issue is information published by the Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) that caulk containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) was used in many nonresidential buildings, including schools, throughout the 1950s through the 1970s. PCBs are man-made toxic chemicals that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in animals and humans. Exposure to PCBs can affect the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system and is potentially cancer-causing. Caulk is used in construction to seal gaps to make windows, door frames, masonry and joints in buildings watertight or airtight. Before the prohibition of PCBs in all U.S.-manufactured products in 1977, caulk was prepared with PCBs due to the flexibility and other valuable properties of the compound such as persistence and low reactivity. Buildings that were constructed or renovated during this period could contain caulking with elevated levels of these hazardous compounds.
Until recently, testing was seldom conducted for PCB levels and there have been few studies to determine the environmental exposures to building occupants, remediation or construction workers, or related environmental contamination. The material will evidently deteriorate and leach PCBs into nearby soil, concrete pads, bricks, mortar, storm drains and potentially volatilize. Studies have shown a correlation between PCBs in caulking and elevated levels of PCBs in indoor air and dust, in addition to ambient soil surrounding the buildings. The deteriorating caulk has the highest potential for creating dust exposing occupants via inhalation. In addition to inhalation from PCBs in the air or dust, dermal exposure may occur when a person comes in contact with the caulk, surrounding porous materials, or PCB-contaminated soil adjacent to buildings.
The US EPA recommends indoor air monitoring to determine if PCB levels exceed the suggested public health levels. If testing reveals PCB levels above these levels, the potential sources of PCBs need to be identified. Typically testing of samples of caulk, dust, and soil is performed. If elevated air levels of PCBs are found, it is also recommended that the ventilation system be evaluated to determine if it is contaminated with PCBs, since it may have been contaminated before other sources of PCBs were removed from the building and may be contributing to elevated air levels. Contaminated ventilation systems need to be decontaminated along with removal of any sources of PCBs that are found to avoid recontamination of the system.
EPA is currently researching PCB exposure related to contaminated caulk and looking into methods for mitigating exposure and potential risks associated with PCBs in caulk. In addition to the risk posed by PCBs caulk can also contain as much as 20 percent asbestos, requiring additional management during sampling and disposal.
Resources:MA DEP PCB Q&A,US EPA
Herrick, R. F., Lefkowitz, D. J., & Weymouth, G. A. (2007). Soil Contamination from PCB-Containing Buildings. Environmental Health Perspectives , 115 (2), 173-175.
Look for future consulting blogsabout environmental health and safety, and industrial hygiene topics including mercury, lead and heavy metals. Please contact Triumvirate’s consulting group for more information. We have Environmental Engineers and Consultants ready to answer your questions.
By John Bailey, Environmental Compliance Advisor
In October 2007, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) released draft final changes to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (the MCP 310 CMR 40.000) to clarify the notification and cleanup requirements for asbestos fibers and asbestos containing material in soil. These changes include new notification requirements and amendments to the Remediation Waste management, to ensure that off-site management of soil containing asbestos meets all applicable state and federal requirements.
The changes include the addition of definitions for Asbestos Source Material (ASM), and Visible ASM. Generally ASM meets the same definition as friable asbestos according to state and federal regulations, and Visible ASM is pieces of ASM three inches or larger in any dimension.
Changes to the notification requirements will include new 2-hour and 120-day notification conditions:
• 2-hour: A release to the environment indicated by the presence of either 5 cubic feet or more, or 5 pounds or more, of Visible ASM, at the ground surface at any location within 500 feet of a residential dwelling, school, playground, recreation area or park; and
• 120-day: A release to the environment indicated by the presence of either 1 cubic foot or more, or 1 pound or more, of Visible ASM located at the ground surface or mixed in subsurface soil.
In addition to the proposed changes to the MCP, changes have been proposed to the Air Pollution Control regulations (310 CMR 7.00), Solid Waste regulations (310 CMR 19.000), the Removal, Containment or Encapsulation of Asbestos regulations (453 CMR 6.00), and guidance policy COMM 97-001, “Reuse and Disposal of Contaminated Soil at Massachusetts Landfills” in order to maintain consistency during asbestos remediation, disposal, testing, and handling operations.
MA DEP Asbestos-In-Soil Draft Final Regulations and Policies:
Look for future engineering blogs about Massachusetts Contingency Plan and Industrial Hygiene topics. Please contact Triumvirate’s engineering group for more information. We have Licensed Site Professionals and Environmental Engineers ready to answer your questions.
By Melissa Iozzo, Technical Specialist
The U.S Department of Transportation, Pipeline and hazardous materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a new interpretation on November 30th, 2009, pertaining to new regulations surrounding the shipment, storage, and collection of dry cell batteries.
Previous letters regarding this topic were in response to the public’s comments, and confusion regarding the shipment of all batteries for road transport. It was originally released that all batteries needed to be packaged for shipment in a way to prevent shorting, or touching of terminal ends to prevent heat generation, sparking, fire, or risk of explosion (i.e. taping terminal ends, or bagging batteries separately).
The PHMSA had originally stated that dry cell alkaline batteries were exempt from hazardous materials regulations (HMR) because they would not pose enough risk to produce a short when packaged together.
The new November 30th interpretation states that all dry cell batteries (those include alkaline, nickel metal hydride, mercury oxide, silver oxide, etc) under 9v are not likely to generate heat, or cause a spark during transport, and therefore when shipped under the specified shipping name; Batteries, Dry, Sealed, are also exempt from HMR. In other words, these smaller dry batteries are not subject to special provision 130 – and precautions do not need to be taken in order to prevent touching of terminals during transport.
It is important to remember that this does not apply to wet batteries, waste damaged batteries, or batteries that have been reconditioned. Equally important is to note again, that this only applies to batteries that are 9v and under; for example, most of your NiCad power tool batteries are over this size. For further information the letter or interpretation can be found here.
Always keep safety in mind before shipping any of these materials – and if you aren’t sure, check first.
By John Bailey, Environmental Compliance Advisor
Perchlorates are the salts derived from perchloric acid. They are used as oxidizers for fireworks, airbags and in solid rocket fuel. The solid rocket boosters of the space shuttle contain 350 metric tons of ammonium perchlorate each.
Perchlorate compounds are derived from perchloric acid (HClO4), a strong mineral acid that is an explosion hazard. When perchloric acid vapors combine with organic or metallic ions they form perchlorate compounds. Common organic and metallic perchlorates include ammonium perchlorate (NH4ClO4), potassium perchlorate (KClO4) and sodium perchlorate (NaClO4). Dry crystals of perchlorate pose an explosion hazard if disturbed. Perchlorates are strong oxidizers that are widely used because they are generally stable, however if heated or shocked they may ignite or detonate.
Perchlorate residues can be encountered within fume hoods and exhaust ductwork of laboratories in which perchlorate or perchloric acid is used. Perchlorate residues can be identified in the field using methylene blue solution, which forms a violet precipitate after reacting with the perchlorate ion. In addition to field testing, perchlorate residues can be detected by laboratory analysis of wipe samples. Best management practices for laboratory cleaning include drenching with water following use to remove potential residues, and the disposal of solutions by dilution in copious amounts of water.
Perchlorates have also been identified as a contaminant in soil and groundwater in Massachusetts, and as an Emerging Contaminant by the US EPA. Perchlorates are also naturally occurring compounds that have been detected at low concentrations in arid areas and on Mars. Perchlorates are extremely soluble in water, making them relatively easy to remove in laboratory conditions; however the solubility makes cleanup of perchlorates in the environment difficult because they do not readily degrade.
MA DEP Perchlorate Q&A: http://www.mass.gov/dep/toxics/pchlorqa.htm
US EPA: http://www.cluin.org/download/contaminantfocus/epa505f09005.pdf
Look for future engineering blogs about Industrial Hygiene topics including mercury, lead and heavy metals. Please contact Triumvirate’s engineering group for more information. We have Environmental Engineers ready to answer your questions.
By John Bailey, Environmental Compliance Advisor
Green remediation is the practice of considering environmental impacts of remediation activities at every stage of the remedial process in order to maximize the net environmental benefit of a cleanup. Considerations include selection of a remedy, energy requirements, efficiency of on-site activities, and reduction of impacts on surrounding areas. -US EPA, 2009
The goal of green remediation is to minimize the environmental impact of remedial activities, without compromising the effectiveness of the clean-up. This can be accomplished by reducing:
• Total energy use – fuel burning vehicles, shipment of materials and supplies (from the point of manufacture to the site), computers, lights heat and air conditioning at the office where reports are prepared, fuel or energy required to operate remediation system;
• Byproducts of remediation – CO2, heat, and other byproducts emitted as a result of vehicle use, remedial system operation, and sometime breakdown of contaminants.
A key component to minimize environmental impacts is determining the impacts of off-site activities such as manufacturing, transportation, and power use. For example if a part for a remediation system located in Boston is sourced from a manufacturer in China the amount of energy required for transportation alone can be tremendous compared to local sourcing of parts. As you can see, the environmental impact of a remediation system can be reduced just by changing vendors.
Other ways to reduce environmental impact include:
• Minimize vehicle usage to reduce energy loss through fuel consumption. This does not mean not using vehicles at sites, but rather planning work to make the most effective use of vehicle time.
• Minimize soil and water disturbance during remediation by using in-situ remediation technologies such as monitored natural attenuation and chemical oxidation versus ex-situ remediation technologies such as pump-and-treat groundwater remediation or soil excavation.
There are many ways to make remediation activities more “green,” pre-project planning and on-going analysis during remediation are key components to identify what the true “environmental cost” of remedial activities are.
By Ian Lanza, Life Sciences Operations Coordinator
The Institute of Hazardous Material Managers (IHMM) CHMM and CHMP certification has received international accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, the international standard for personnel certification programs. This accreditation is a huge step for the IHMM. It recognizes the skills and abilities of professionals holding IHMM certifications. IHMM certified professionals have the skills and abilities to implement policies, practices, procedures for the management of hazardous materials to protect humans and the environmental from the potential dangers and risks of hazardous materials.
Notification Prior to Construction or Demolition
By Joshua Philbrook, Construction Safety Specialist
When beginning an interior renovation project, owners, architects and contractors sort through a laundry list of items from basic structural and utility needs to the final brush strokes of wall color and finishes. What they may not discuss, however, is whether or not they need to notify the Department of Environmental Protection regarding the demolition and renovation activities necessary for making their project dream a reality.
The MassDEP requires that an owner or contractor (“person responsible”) file form BWP AQ 06, "Notification Prior to Construction or Demolition" ten (10) days prior to the commencement of any construction or demolition activity.
The Secretary of State’s Code of Massachusetts’s Regulations pertaining to air quality (310 CMR 7.0) require that any industrial or commercial facility notify MassDEP of construction or demolition activities ten days prior to the commencement of work through the submittal of the BWP AQ 06 form (Notification Prior to Construction or Demolition). The language of 310 CMR 7.09 reads:
"(2) No person responsible for any construction or demolition of an industrial, commercial, or institutional building or residential building with 20 or more dwelling units, shall cause, suffer, allow, or permit emissions there from which cause or contribute to a condition of air pollution. Said person shall notify the Department in writing ten working days prior to the initiation of said construction or demolition operation. The ten working day advance notice period will be waived in the event of emergency demolition necessary to prevent a public health or safety hazard."
Most facilities fall within the purview of this regulation, however, definitional questions of what constitutes air pollution, construction and demolition lie at the crux of the confusion as to whether or not this regulation pertains to interior construction and demolition projects. The State defines air pollution as "the presence in the ambient air space of one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof in such concentrations and of such duration as to: (a) cause a nuisance; (b) be injurious, or be on the basis of current information, potentially injurious to human or animal life, to vegetation, or to property; or (c) unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property or the conduct of business."
With regards to construction and demolition, the CMR provides the following definitions:
Construction means any physical change or change in the method of operation (including fabrication, erection, installation, demolition, or modification of an emissions unit) which would result in an increase in potential emissions.
Demolition/Renovation means any operation which involves the wrecking, taking out, removal, stripping, or altering in any way (including repairing, restoring, drilling, cutting, sanding, sawing, scratching, scraping, or digging into) or construction of one or more facility components or facility component insulation. This term includes load and non-load supporting structural members of a facility.
While not all encompassing, the definitions provided by the State define a majority of industrial and commercial renovation and construction projects. Assumptions, often made, that only large scale demolition projects with the potential to effect outside air quality, such as razing of an entire complex, are incorrect. By definition, any activity that has the potential to disrupt the ambient air of any public space, whether interior or exterior, fall within the scope of this regulation.
Consequently, given the loose definition of air pollution, most interior and exterior renovation projects require the DEP Notification. Through the notification, facility owners not only ensure their proper regulatory footing but elevate the best practices of their construction and renovation programs and deter future liability claims.
By Jeremy Brandl, Engineering Technician
Activity and Use Limitations (AULs) are legal restrictions used in the context of the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) to limit future exposure to contaminants remaining in soil at a disposal site. An AUL on a property will alert future property owners that the property they will be occupying has potential risk for exposure.
“The purpose of an Activity and Use Limitation is to narrow the scope of exposure assumptions used to characterize risks to human health from a release pursuant to 310 CMR 40.0900, by specifying activities and uses that are prohibited and allowed at the disposal site in the future.”
A way to determine risk is by completing the risk characterization process. In Massachusetts, the guidelines in the MCP determines when an AUL is needed to eliminate potential exposure pathways. The AUL is necessary for the continued validity of a Response Action Outcome Statement (RAO) to ensure that the disposal site presents No Significant Risk to human health or the environment over time.
Elements of an AUL:
• written restriction, providing notice
• imposed by the land owner (DEP approval not required, but DEP can enforce)
• recorded at the Registry of Deeds (or Land Court)
• restricts future uses and allows permitted uses
• to prevent exposure to remaining oil or hazardous materials (OHM)
• largely used for soil contamination (for groundwater: to eliminate an existing private well, O + M of venting system or vapor barrier)
• goal/benefit: to reduce response actions (and costs) while maintaining protection (e.g., Brownfields redevelopment)
A detailed AUL guidance document may be found on the Mass DEP website (http://www.mass.gov/dep/cleanup/laws/99-300.pdf.) If you should have any questions or require more information on this topic, please contact Triumvirate's Site Assessment and Remediation Division for more information. We have experienced Licensed Site Professionals and Environmental Engineers ready to answer your questions.