Frequent Questions

May a generator conduct thermal treatment without obtaining a permit?

A generator may not conduct thermal treatment without a permit.  Thermal treatment is regulated under Part 265, Subpart P; Part 264/265, Subpart O; Part 264, Subpart X; or Part 266, Subpart H.  The generator "permit exemption" for treatment only extends to treatment activities that share the same standards as storage (i.e., the treatment must occur in tanks, containers, or containment buildings).  The standards for thermal treatment are different in Section 262.34 storage requirements; therefore, thermal treatment may not be performed in generator accumulation units without a permit. To check your state's regulations regarding this contact your local office

More general information on this subject was answered in FAQ#309 as provided below: 

Can generators treat hazardous waste without obtaining a permit? Generators can treat hazardous waste in tanks, containers, or containment buildings without obtaining a permit or interim status provided they comply with the requirements in §262.34 as well as the unit-specific requirements in Part 265 (51 FR 10146, 10168; March 24, 1986).  Under this provision generators can treat only the hazardous waste generated on site.  A permit would be required to treat hazardous waste consolidated from off-site locations (Memo, Cotsworth to Regions; August 16, 2002; RCRA Online 14618).  Furthermore, generators can not treat hazardous waste by thermal treatment or incineration without obtaining a permit (Call Center Monthly Report Question; January 2003; RCRA Online 14662) [PDF 12K]. In addition, generators who treat hazardous waste to meet the land disposal restriction treatment standards must comply with the notification requirements in §268.7(a)(5) and have a waste analysis plan on site (Call Center Monthly Report Question; August 1992; RCRA Online 13553). 

Additional guidance regarding generator treatment is available in the following documents: 
Memo, Cotsworth to Steward; October 23, 1998 (RCRA Online 14466)
Memo, Shapiro to Directors; October 17, 1994 (RCRA Online 11881)
Memo, Lowrance to McCarley; September 20, 1991 (RCRA Online 11641)
Call Center Monthly Report Question; January 1988 (RCRA Online 13117)
Memo, Williams to Lenher; July 25, 1986 (RCRA Online 12694)

Note: On November 28, 2016, EPA published the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule, which makes several revisions to the hazardous waste generator regulations. These revisions may affect the information provided in this FAQ. The final rule and additional information, including a fact sheet, frequent questions, and a webinar recording and slides, are available at www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/final-rule-hazardous-waste-generator-improvements.

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule is effective on May 30, 2017; however, implementation in a particular state depends on the state’s authorization status. A discussion of the effect that this final rule will have on state authorization is available on page 85801 of the rule. Information about how the rule will affect the requirements in this FAQ in a particular state is best obtained from the state hazardous waste program. A list of state hazardous waste programs is available at www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/links-hazardous-waste-programs-and-us-state-environmental-agencies.

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