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Washington Dangerous Solid Waste Permit (18-WA-b)

The Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDE) oversees the permitting process for dangerous solid waste.

In Washington, a developer must obtain a permit if they handle dangerous solid waste and they are classified as a:

  • Generator;
  • Transporter;
  • Owner and operator of dangerous waste recycling, transfer, storage, treatment, and disposal facilities; or
  • The operator of the state’s extremely hazardous waste management facility. WAC 173-303-020.

The permit does not apply to businesses that generate dangerous wastes and transport them off-site before certain "accumulation" time limits are exceeded.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates management of hazardous waste. The EPA program has many similarities to Washington’s program to manage dangerous waste, although EPA regulates a smaller group of wastes than the state of Washington. To avoid duplication, EPA has authorized the state of Washington's dangerous waste management program.

While geothermal developers do not usually generate significant amounts of dangerous solid waste, they must strictly adhere to this process in the limited scenarios where they do generate such waste. In addition, geothermal developers may be exempted from certain requirements of this process if they qualify as a "small quantity generator."

Dangerous Solid Waste Permit Process

18-WA-b.1 to 18-WA-b.2 – Do Project Activities Require a Dangerous Waste Permit?

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) is the principle federal law governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste. RCRA focuses only on active and future facilities and does not address abandoned or historical sites which are managed under CERCLA. If the project does not require a permit under RCRA, then the developer is not required to obtain a Dangerous Solid Waste Permit from the WSDE. Any developer dealing with wastes categorized as “dangerous wastes” under WAC 173-303-070 will be required to obtain a Dangerous Solid Waste Permit from WSDE.

A “Dangerous Waste” means solid wastes outlined in WAC 173-303-070 through WAC 173-303-100 as dangerous, or extremely hazardous or mixed waste. If the developer is an owner or operator of a dangerous waste recycling, transfer, storage, treatment, and disposal facility, then they will be required to obtain a Dangerous Waste Permit.

WAC 173-303-070 outlines the procedures for determining whether or not a solid waste is considered a “dangerous waste” for purposes of requiring a Dangerous Solid Waste Permit. Any developer who generates a solid waste that is not exempted or excluded must follow the procedures in this section. To determine whether or not a solid waste is designated as a dangerous waste, a developer must do the following:

  1. Determine if the waste is a listed discarded chemical product, WAC 173-303-081;
  2. Determine if the waste is a listed dangerous waste source, WAC 173-303-082;
  3. If the waste is not listed in WAC 173-303-081 or WAC 173-303-082, or for the purposes of compliance with the federal land disposal restrictions as adopted by reference in WAC 173-303-140, determine if the waste exhibits any dangerous waste characteristics, WAC 173-303-090; and
  4. If the waste is not listed in WAC 173-303-081 or WAC 173-303-082, and does not exhibit a characteristic in WAC 173-303-090, determine if the waste meets any dangerous waste criteria, WAC 173-303-100.

WAC 173-303-090 sets forth characteristics which a solid waste may exhibit which would cause that waste to be considered a “dangerous waste.” These characteristics include: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity. WAC 173-303-090(5)-(8).

Notwithstanding the above provision, the WSDE may require any developer to test a waste according to the methods, or an approved equivalent method, set forth in WAC 173-303-110 to determine whether or not the waste is designated under the dangerous waste lists, characteristics, or criteria. WAC 173-303-070(4).

18-WA-b.3 to 18-WA-b.5 – Does the Project Involve an Excluded Waste or Exempted Generator?

Any developer whose waste is exempted or who qualifies as an excluded generator will not be required to obtain a Dangerous Solid Waste Permit. If the developer is seeking a waste exclusion or exemption, they must submit a petition to WSDE for consideration. Given the definition of a small quantity generator, explained below, geothermal developers would likely fall in this category and are thus subject to lowered requirements. WAC 173-303-072(1)(b).

Excluded Categories of Waste

WAC 173-303-071 lists categories of wastes which are excluded from Dangerous Waste Permit requirements. For example, the following categories of wastes are excluded from permitting requirements under WAC 173-303-071:

  • Domestic sewage and any mixture of domestic sewage and other wastes that passes through a sewer system to a publicly owned treatment works for treatment if outlined requirements are met;
  • Industrial wastewater discharges that are point-source discharges subject to regulation under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act;
  • Household wastes, including household waste that has been collected, transported, stored, or disposed. Wastes that are residues from or are generated by the management of household wastes are not excluded by this provision;
  • Agricultural crops and animal manures which are returned to the soil as fertilizers;
  • Asphaltic materials designated only for the presence of PAHs by WAC 173-303-100(6). For this exclusion, asphaltic materials means materials that have been used for structural and construction purposes that were produced from mixtures of oil and sand, gravel, ash or similar substances;
  • Roofing tars and shingles, except that these wastes are not excluded if mixed with wastes listed in WAC 173-303-081 or WAC 173-303-082, or if they exhibit any of the characteristics specified in WAC 173-303-090; and
  • Treated wood waste and wood products listed in WAC 173-303-071(g).

Further exclusions are outlined in WAC 173-303-071(3)(h)-(bb).

Exemptions for Small Generators

Generators that qualify as “small generators” are exempted from complying with Dangerous Waste permitting requirements if they:

  • Designate their waste in accordance with WAC 173-303-070;
  • Manage their waste in a way that does not pose a potential threat to human health or the environment; and
  • Either treat or dispose of their dangerous waste in an on-site facility, or ensure delivery to an off-site facility, either of which, if located in the United States;
  • Submit an annual report in accordance with WAC 173-303-220 if they have obtained an EPA/state identification number pursuant to WAC 173-303-060.

WAC 173-303-070(8)

A developer qualifies as a "small quantity generator" if:

  • The aggregated quantity of waste generated per month does not equal or exceed the quantity exclusion limit (QEL): 220 pounds per month.

WAC 173-303-070(7-8)

18-WA-b.6 to 18-WA-b.7 - Notify Public of Pre-application Meeting

Prior to submitting a notice of intent to apply for a RCRA Part B Permit, developers must notify the public of and host a pre-application meeting pursuant to the requirements of WAC 173-303-281.4. The purpose of the public meeting is for the developer to solicit questions from the community and inform the community of proposed dangerous solid waste management activities. The meeting date must be approved by the WSDE and the developer must provide public notice, at least 30 days prior to the meeting, in all of the following forms:

  1. A newspaper advertisement: The developer must publish a notice,in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or equivalent jurisdiction that hosts the proposed location of the facility. In addition, the department will instruct the developer to publish the notice in newspapers of general circulation in adjacent counties, where the department determines that such publication is necessary to inform the affected public. The notice must be published as a display advertisement.
  2. A visible and accessible sign: The developer must post a notice on a clearly marked sign at or near the facility. If the developer places the sign on the facility property, then the sign must be large enough to be readable from the nearest point where the public would pass by the site.
  3. A broadcast media announcement: The applicant must broadcast a notice at least once on at least one local radio station or television station. The applicant may employ another medium with prior approval of the department.
  4. A notice to the department. The applicant must send a copy of the newspaper notice to the department and to the appropriate units of state and local government.

WAC 173-303-281.4(D)(i)

The notice must include the following information:

  • The date, time, and location of the meeting,
  • A brief description of the purpose of the meeting,
  • A brief description of the facility and proposed operations, including the address or a map (e.g., a sketched or copied street map) of the facility location,
  • A statement encouraging people to contact the facility at least seventy-two hours before the meeting if they need special access to participate in the meeting, and
  • The name, address, and telephone number of a contact person for the applicant.

WAC 173-303-281.4(e)(ii)

During the public pre-application meeting, the developer must post a sign-in sheet or otherwise provide a voluntary opportunity for attendees to provide their names and addresses. Attendees will have a reasonable time to present questions and concerns. WAC 173-303-281.4(b)

18-WA-b.8 – Notice of Intent to apply for a RCRA Part B Permit; Summary of Pre-application Meeting

The developer must provide notification to WSDE, local communities and the public regarding the siting of a facility containing a dangerous waste management component. The notice of intent will provide general information about the proposed facility owner/operator, the type of facility and the types of wastes to be managed and compliance with the siting criteria. WAC 173-303-281. In addition, the notice of intent must include a summary of the pre-application meeting, along with the list of attendees and their addresses and copies of any written comments or materials submitted at the meeting. WAC 173-303-281.4(c)

The notice of intent prepared by the developer of the applicable facilities must consist of:

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the owner, operator, and corporate officers;
  • The location of the proposed facility or expansion on a topographic map with specifications as detailed in WAC 173-303-806(4)(a)(xviii);
  • A brief description of the types and amounts of wastes to be managed annually;
  • A brief description of the major equipment items proposed, if any, and the waste management activities requiring a permit or revision of an existing permit;
  • Demonstration of compliance with the siting criteria as required under WAC 173-303-282(6) and (7). The site conditions with regards to satisfying the criteria are to be assessed as of the date of submittal of the notice of intent to the department;
  • For informational purposes a complete summary of compliance violations of permit conditions at hazardous waste management facilities owned or operated by the developer, its subsidiaries or its parent company, during the ten calendar years preceding the permit application; and
  • For informational purposes the need for the proposed facility or expansion must be demonstrated by one of the methods outlined in WAC 173-303-281(3)(a)(vii).

18-WA-b.9 – Inform Local Governments of the Project

The WSDE is required to inform any affected local governments that the project is being considered.

18-WA-b.10 – Demonstration of Compliance with Siting Criteria

Siting criteria serve as an initial screen in the consideration of sites for dangerous waste management facilities. The purpose of the siting criteria is to immediately disqualify proposed dangerous waste facility sites in locations considered unsuitable or inappropriate for the management of dangerous wastes. WAC 173-303-282(1).

18-WA-b.11 – Review Demonstration of Compliance with Siting Criteria

WSDE will review the Demonstration of Compliance with Siting Criteria to ensure that all siting criteria are met. WSDE may request additional information if necessary to establish compliance with the siting criteria. The WSDE must respond within 60 days in one of the following ways:

  • Return the Demonstration of Compliance as incomplete with written comments identifying the need for additional information. The developer may resubmit the Demonstration of compliance with complete information; or
  • Render a written tentative decision to approve or deny the Demonstration of Compliance. WAC 173-303-282(4)(c)

18-WA-b.12 to 18-WA-b.13 – Is the Demonstration of Compliance Complete?

If the WSDE returns the Demonstration of Compliance as incomplete, then the developer will be given the opportunity to amend the demonstration and resubmit it. The WSDE will provide comments to the developer outlining the information necessary to make the demonstration complete. WAC 173-303-282(4)(c)(i).

18-WA-b.14 - Develop Tentative Decision on Demonstration of Compliance

Following review, WSDE will develop a tentative decision to approve or deny the Demonstration of Compliance. WAC 173-30-282(4)(c)(ii).

18-WA-b.15 – Provide Public Notice of Tentative Decision on Demonstration of Compliance

WSDE is required to provide public notice of their tentative decision on the Demonstration of Compliance with Siting Criteria. WSDE must publish notice of its tentative decision in a daily or weekly newspaper of general circulation in the potentially affected area, and will give notice by other reasonable methods to persons potentially affected. WAC 173-303-282(4)(d).

18-WA-b.16 – Comment on Tentative Decision of WSDE

The public can submit written comments on WSDE’s tentative decision on compliance. Comments will be accepted from the public for a minimum of 45 days. WAC 173-303-282(4)(d)(i)(C). The 45 day comment period begins following the 60 day period in which the WSDE has to respond to the Demonstration of Compliance.

18-WA-b.17 – Conduct Public Meeting, if Requested

If the public requests a public meeting on the demonstration of compliance, then one will be held at a location convenient to the public in the potentially affected area. WAC 173-303-282(4)(d)(i)(B). If an interested person submits a written request, then the WSDE may hold a public hearing to consider public comments on the developer’s Demonstration of Compliance. The interested person seeking a public hearing must state the issues to be raised and explain why written comments would not be sufficient. If ten or more persons request a public hearing on the subject of the WSDE’s tentative decision, then the WSDE will hold a public hearing for the purpose of receiving comments. WAC 173-303-282(4)(d)(ii)(B).

18-WA-b.18 to 18-WA-b.19 – Does WSDE accept the Demonstration of Compliance?

If the Demonstration of Compliance is not accepted by WSDE, then the developer may appeal such decision. Any person who is adversely affected by a decision of the WSDE may appeal the decision to the Pollution Control Hearings Board pursuant to the authority of WAC 173-303-845.

18-WA-b.20 – Application for Dangerous Waste Permit

The developer must submit the application provided by the WSDE. The application must include the following:

  • Detailed procedures and methods for treating, storing, and/or disposing of dangerous waste;
  • Detailed engineering drawings of the proposed facility;
  • Training plans;
  • Inspection plans;
  • Contingency plans;
  • Waste analysis plans; and
  • Procedures to close the facility when operations cease.

There are two parts to the dangerous waste permit application – Part A and Part B. Part A of the application contains general information about the facility along with maps, drawings, and photographs, as required by WAC 173-303-803(3). Part B of the application contains detailed information such as geologic, hydrologic, and engineering data and plans. For new facilities, both parts of the application must be submitted at least 180 days before physical construction is expected to begin. WAC 173-303-803(4)(b). The developer may not begin construction on the facility until a final Dangerous Waste Permit has been issued by the WSDE.

18-WA-b.21 – Provide Public Notice of Receipt of Application

The WSDE must provide public notice as well as notice to appropriate state and local government agencies that an application has been submitted. WAC 173-303-281.

18-WA-b.22 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The WSDE will review the application materials to ensure they are complete. They may ask for additional information if necessary.

18-WA-b.23 – Is the Application Complete?

The WSDE will notify the developer if any further information is needed for the application to be considered complete.

18-WA-b.24 – Draft Permit, Fact Sheet, and Supporting Documents

After the WSDE finishes the review, they prepare a draft decision on the permit. The decision can be either to issue or deny the permit. If approved, the permit will allow the developer to construct and operate the facility.

The WSDE writes a report called a “Fact Sheet” to explain the decisions made before writing the final permit decision. The Fact Sheet is given to the developer with the Draft Permit and other documents.

18-WA-b.25 – Provide Public Notice on Tentative Decision to Issue Permit

The WSDE must provide public notice on a tentative decision to issue a Dangerous Waste Permit to the developer.

18-WA-b.26 to 18-WA-b.27 – Comment on Dangerous Waste Permit

The public is given the opportunity to comment on any tentative decision of the WSDE to grant a Dangerous Waste Permit. The WSDE will take any comments provided by the public into consideration when making their final decision.

18-WA-b.28 to 18-WA-b.29 – Does WSDE Accept the Tentative Decision?

The WSDE may approve or deny the Dangerous Waste Permit. If the WSDE denies the Dangerous Waste Permit, they will outline the reasons for a denial in their decision.

18-WA-b.30 – Dangerous Waste Permit

The final Dangerous Waste Permit will outline any facility requirements that must be met by the developer. The permit includes details on how the developer must construct and operate the facility. In addition, the permit describes where the facility is located and what buildings and other structures are used to store or treat wastes.

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