EPA Launching Electronic System to Track Hazardous Waste

June 1, 2018
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The EPA is Creating a New National System for Electronically Tracking Hazardous Waste Shipments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is creating a new national system for tracking hazardous waste shipments electronically. The system, known as e-Manifest, is expected to launch on June 30, 2018. Regulated entities, including hazardous waste generators, transporters, brokers, and receiving facilities, should be preparing to comply with the new requirements.

EPA Launching Electronic System to Track Hazardous Waste Shipments

Photo courtesy of Daniel von Appen (Unsplash.com)

Pursuant to the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act of 2012 (Act), the EPA was authorized to establish a national e-manifest system to track hazardous waste shipments. The Act gave the EPA the authority to adopt regulations that 1) accept electronic-manifests in addition to the existing paper manifests and 2) set up user fees to offset the costs of developing and operating the e-Manifest system. In 2014, the EPA finalized a rule authorizing the use of electronic manifests to track hazardous waste shipments nationwide. Earlier this year, the agency published its final methodology for setting user fees based on the costs of processing manifests.

Scope of e-Manifest

Under the e-Manifest Act, if either the generation state or receiving state requires a manifest, then the receiving facility must complete the facility portion of the manifest, sign and date the facility certification to indicate the receipt of the covered wastes (or any discrepancies), and then submit that completed manifest to EPA. The submission will also require the receiving facility to pay the associated fee for that manifest. 

States through which waste is transported en route to a designated facility in another state are not covered by the e-Manifest Act. Accordingly, their tracking requirements would not trigger any responsibility for the designated facility to respond to a transit state’s manifest requirement.

The new e-Manifest system affects any regulated waste shipped on a manifest, including:

  • Federal hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA),
  • Regulated PCB waste shipped on a manifest,
  • State-regulated hazardous waste (if manifest is required by origination or destination state),
  • Very Small Quantity Generator waste (if manifest required by state), and
  • Imported hazardous waste.

Special Requirements for Generators 

Once the system goes live next month, generators will have the option to create and submit manifests electronically in e-Manifest. If generators would like to submit electronically, they must register for e-Manifest and obtain an EPA Identification (ID) Number. Generators with e-Manifest accounts will be able to view manifests and participate in the electronic data corrections process supported by e-Manifest.

Generators may continue to use paper manifests after June 30, 2018; however, use of e-Manifest is highly encouraged by EPA. If generators do not create e-Manifest accounts for viewing hazardous waste manifests, they must make arrangements with their receiving facilities to obtain paper copies of completed manifests per recordkeeping requirements in 40 CFR part 262. The e-Manifest system will only supply electronic copies of completed manifests to registered generators with e-Manifest accounts.

Special Requirements for Receiving Facilities

After June 30, 2018, receiving facilities will have the option to create and submit manifests electronically in e-Manifest. Receiving facilities must submit all manifests, both paper and electronic, to the EPA.

Electronic and hybrid manifests are submitted to EPA instantaneously, as they are signed electronically by the receiving facility in the system. EPA’s Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule (CROMERR) provides the legal framework for electronic reporting under EPA’s regulatory programs. Those signing electronically need to go through identity proofing plus sign using a CROMERR- compliant electronic signature (e.g., password plus personal challenge question). If a paper manifest is used, the receiving facility must submit the manifest to EPA within 30 days of receipt.

The EPA will charge receiving facilities a fee for each manifest submitted, which the fee determined by how the manifest is submitted. For billing purposes, receiving facilities must obtain an EPA ID Number. 

Special Requirements for Brokers

Once e-Manifest launches, brokers will have the option to prepare manifests electronically for their generator clients. Brokers to obtain an EPA ID Number using the Site ID Form (EPA form 8700-12), which will allow brokers to track their manifest activities in e-Manifest and make draft manifests available to their clients.

Special Requirements for Transporters

Under the new system, transporters may prepare manifests electronically in e-Manifest for their generator clients. According to the EPA, “the broad adoption of electronic manifesting will depend upon transporters obtaining portable devices (e.g., smartphone or tablet) for their transport vehicles and making the electronic manifest capability available to their generator customers in the field.”

Transporters with portable devices and network connectivity can involve their generator customers in two ways: (1) fully electronic manifests with the generator and all handlers signing manifests electronically; and (2) a hybrid electronic manifest, where a generator, not able to sign electronically, can sign and retain a printed copy of the manifest, while the transporter and other handlers sign and transmit the manifest electronically. For transporters lacking portable devices, transporters can continue to use paper manifests.

Transporters will not be subject to e-Manifest user fees. As highlighted above, the fees will be paid by the designated receiving facilities when they submit their manifests to the system. While the EPA is encouraging transporters to adopt electronic systems, it is also important to note that the Department of Transportation’s hazardous materials regulations still require transporters to carry one paper copy of a manifest on their transport vehicles, which must be accessible to emergency responders in the event of an incident during transport. The EPA advises that transporters using electronic manifests can simply print a copy of the manifest for use as the shipping paper.

New Record Keeping Obligations and User Fees

Under the new system, the use of an electronic manifest use is optional. Going forward, the EPA is offering the following manifest options:

  • Paper (generator, transporter, and receiving facility all sign on paper)
  • Hybrid (starts as paper manifest signed by the generator and then is signed electronically by the transporter and receiving facility)
  • Electronic (created in e-Manifest and electronically signed by all entities listed on the manifest)

The EPA will implement the e-Manifest regulations until states adopt and become authorized under the e-Manifest regulations. The EPA will also manage the collection of all user fees and impose all penalties for non-payment.

The manifest fees under the EPA’s User Fee Rule largely depend on the type of manifest (paper or electronic) and the manner of submission (e.g., direct mail, data file upload, image upload). Mailed paper forms incur the highest fees; scanned image file and data + scanned image file uploads will incur moderate fees; and electronic manifests, including hybrid manifests, will incur the lowest fees. The EPA has not imposed fees on generators or on members of the pubic that would use the system only to access data.

Preparing for Compliance

According to the EPA, the new electronic system will improve access to higher quality and timely data regarding hazardous waste shipments while also saving time and resources for both businesses and regulators. In fact, the EPA estimates e-Manifest will ultimately reduce the burden associated with preparing shipping manifests by between 300,000 and 700,000 hours, saving state and industry users $75-$90M annually.

Nonetheless, for regulated entities, the new system represents a significant change. To assist with compliance, the EPA has posted a list of frequently asked questions and answers on its website. The agency has also conducted several webinars and other training events. The materials can also be accessed online (here).

To ensure you are meeting all of your regulatory obligations, we also encourage businesses in the hazardous waste industry to work with an experienced environmental law attorney. At Scarinci Hollenbeck, we are happy to answer any questions and assist you in complying with the new e-Manifest system.

If you have any questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Dan McKillop, at 201-806-3364.