RCRA Training Requirements - 'It Depends'

We continue our EHS and compliance training deep-dive series here, with a discussion of RCRA training regulations.

The next stop on our deep dive into common environmental, health, and safety (EHS) and compliance trainings takes us to those pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA, passed in 1976, led to a baseline set of hazardous waste regulations—including a training requirement for hazardous waste generators that can vary state-to-state.

Baseline EPA RCRA Training Requirements

Generators in all US states must comply with the minimum baseline standards. 48 out of 50 states, however, excluding Alaska and Iowa, have approved state RCRA programs—which means those states’ own environmental departments enforce their own RCRA regulations. The totality of any state RCRA program is at least as stringent as the federal requirements.

Some states, like New Jersey, merely mimic the federal regulations; others revise and/or add to the federal rules. Among the states that alter the federal rules, some do so in limited or subtle ways, others in dramatic and far-reaching ways (can you say, “California”?).

Specific training requirements for any state’s RCRA program are no different from the program itself—they may be the same as, or they may be stricter than, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) requirements.

The factors that affect which training requirements apply to your site include:

  • What state you’re in
  • Your federal generator status
  • Your state generator status, if different
  • How the federal training requirements apply to your generator status
  • If your state altered the federal training requirements

Let’s start by analyzing the baseline training requirements for each federal generator designation:

Large Quantity Generators (LQGs)

LQG federal RCRA training requirements state that employers must:

  • Teach employees:
    • How to perform their duties in a way that ensures compliance
    • How to respond effectively to emergencies
  • Be relevant to the position in which a worker is employed
  • Be directed by a person trained in hazardous waste management procedures
  • Occur within six months of start for a new employee
  • Include an annual review of the initial required training that all personnel must take part in
  • Maintain training records that document that the training has been completed. These records must be retained until the facility closes and at least 3 years from when the employee last worked at the facility. Training records must include:
    • Employee name and job title related to hazardous waste management
    • A written job description
    • A written description of the type and amount of training
    • Documentation that the training has been completed

Small Quantity Generators (SQGs)

SQG federal RCRA training requirements simply state that:

The training must be relevant to the position in which a worker is employed and must teach them:

  • How to perform their duties in a way that ensures compliance
  • How to respond effectively to emergencies

Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs)

VSQGs do not have any federal RCRA training requirement.

Applicability of LQG vs. SQG Training Requirements

The first variable that may change between federal and state-authorized RCRA programs depends on if the state extends the federal LQG training requirements to smaller generators, as is the case in New Hampshire and Maryland. In such instances, the state redefines generator status and creates a name that encompasses federal LQGs and SQGs (and in some cases, even VSQGs) under one umbrella. This term may be “Full Quantity Generator,” “Fully-Regulated Generator,” or the like.

Another variation of this—certain states (again, can you say “California!”) extend federal SQG training requirements to VSQGs (or as they are called in CA, Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators).

It is crucial that one assigns the proper generator size to each individual site based upon the state definitions.

States Alter Federal Requirements

The next important factor to determine specific RCRA training requirements is: Did the state change the language of the federal training requirements? States may revise these in a number of ways:

  • Requiring a written training plan, as in Massachusetts
  • Adding specific training curriculum and additional documentation, like in Rhode Island
  • Increasing the necessary qualifications of the training director, as Rhode Island also does
  • Clarifying training requirements for satellite accumulation areas (SAAs), like in Vermont

RCRA Regulations Are Complex

To determine the exact RCRA training requirements applicable to a generator site, one must know its generator status as defined by the state regulations. They must then read the state-specific training requirements applicable to that generator size, which may be different than the federal EPA rules.

Confused? Triumvirate Environmental is here to help. Our EHSLearn™: Seminars training program provides RCRA training for 16 US states. Our dedicated team and experienced instructors know RCRA regulations like the back of their hand—including all relevant state and federal training requirements—and so can cut through the confusion to get you exactly what you need. Register for a RCRA course today or contact us to learn more.

Note: The states referenced in this blog post are limited to the 16 states in which Triumvirate Environmental provides RCRA training: New England, much of the east coast, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and California. Other states may have unique training requirements not mentioned here. This blog post is not representative of all 48 state-authorized RCRA programs, only the 16 in which we train.

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