Good Morning Chairman Thune, ranking member Boxer and Members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. I thank the Committee for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the addition of electronic hazardous waste manifests to the existing paper hazardous waste manifest system.
I am the Director of the Division of Compliance and Enforcement in the Bureau of Land and Waste Management at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The Division of Compliance and Enforcement is responsible for ensuring conformance with applicable regulations for management of hazardous, solid, infectious and radiological waste, as well as mining and reclamation, underground storage tank and Superfund activities in the State. Activities associated with these responsibilities include inspections of generators, transporters and treatment, storage and/or disposal facilities. Additionally, I serve as Co-Chairperson of the Hazardous Waste Subcommittee and Chairperson of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Task Force for the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO).
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), passed by Congress on October 21, 1976 established authority for EPA to develop a preventive system to control the growing volume of municipal and industrial waste through national goals designed to protect human health and the environment from potential hazards of these wastes; conserve energy and natural resources; reduce the volume of these wastes and ensure the wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner. The hazardous waste program, managed under RCRA Subtitle C is a cradle to grave system designed to ensure appropriate management of these wastes from generation to disposal.
The hazardous waste manifest is an essential tool for monitoring and tracking hazardous waste from the time the waste leaves the generator facility where it was produced until it is delivered to the destination facility for storage, treatment and/or disposal. Both the Department of Transportation and EPA require the manifest. Each entity handling the waste as it is transported to its destination is required to sign and retain a copy of the manifest. This results in accountability and responsibility for all involved in the disposal process. Once the destination facility receives the waste, a signed copy of the manifest is returned to the generator, thus confirming proper delivery of the entire shipment.
EPA enables States to assume primary responsibility for implementing the RCRA hazardous waste program; and as such, most states have requested and received authorization for the core elements of the RCRA program. As an authorized State, South Carolina applauds the inclusion of electronic reporting of hazardous waste activities in the hazardous waste manifest system and fully supports this initial step in that process.
S.3871 primarily focuses on the design of a system and does not identify a role for States other than membership on the proposed Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest System Governing Board and the requirements for development of the regulations. As a supporter of the concept, South Carolina offers the following comments:
1.) S.3871 should clearly state that participation in the electronic manifest reporting process is voluntary. Companies may be unable to submit this information electronically due to limitations with funding and technology.
2.) The definition of the term “user” should be clarified. The current definition could be interpreted to mean that use of the electronic manifest process is mandatory even though paragraph B indicates participation is voluntary. In addition, States accessing the information as part of the regulatory process could be considered “users” of the system and incur fees.
3.) The system should be designed in a manner that is inclusive of existing State regulatory programs and current manifest procedures and not require additional State financial resources.
4.) It is unclear if potential users will incur fees during the development stages.
5.) Paragraph (g) (B)(2) – Effective Date of Regulations states that regulations promulgated by the Administrator relating to electronic manifesting of hazardous waste shall take effect in each State as of the effective date specified in the regulation. States authorized to implement the RCRA program in lieu of EPA have State specific statutory requirements for promulgating regulations that may be inconsistent with the timeframe established in this paragraph. We respectfully request that this wording be modified to recognize state requirements for promulgation of regulations.
6.) S.3871 does not address the importance of the manifest in the transportation phase for wastes sent for treatment, storage and/or disposal. Specifically, the bill does not identify how inspectors and/or emergency response personnel will be able to access electronic manifests to identify wastes in transit. This information is vital, particularly in the event of an emergency.
For example, there have been several incidents where emergency personnel responded to a spill of hazardous waste and the transport vehicle driver’s English proficiency was limited. The absence of a paper manifest could have delayed or resulted in inappropriate response activities as it includes information needed for appropriate response activities.
7.) Electronic manifests would facilitate pre-inspection activities for State regulators. Because South Carolina, like many other States, does not receive copies of manifests, access to this information prior to the actual inspection would greatly enhance the inspection process.
8.) The regulations should not inhibit public access to the information.
In conclusion, we recognize that paragraphs five through eight can and should be more thoroughly addressed during the promulgation of regulations stage of this process. We wish to take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of including State representatives and strongly encourage the Committee to include steps to ensure that States are active participants in subsequent phases of regulation development.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share this information with you this morning.