This post was written Duane Neukom, Marketing Manager at WasteXpress, a hazardous waste removal company. The company provides on-site disposal, transportation and industrial services to businesses across Oregon and Washington. 

In 1999, the United Nations Environmental Program estimated that industrialized countries produce up to 400 million tons of hazardous waste each year. Hazardous waste is any type of waste that poses a threat to the environment or public health. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) states that hazardous waste falls into two categories: characteristic and listed wastes. Characteristic hazardous waste products are those that are corrosive, reactive, ignitable or toxic. Listed hazardous waste products are those that regulatory authorities deem as hazards, such as F, K, or P-listed. By applying proper hazardous waste removal transportation practices, you can remain compliant with the law while reducing waste and keeping the public and land safe.                


Hazardous Waste Removal Transportation Process 

All companies that produce hazardous waste must follow the hazardous waste removal guidelines outlined in the RCRA and Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA). The first step in the professional waste removal process is classification. Waste classification, or characterization, helps determine if waste is hazardous or non-hazardous, as well as whether it is a characteristic or listed hazardous waste product. The classification process helps businesses reduce waste, promotes recycling and conserves resources. 

After the waste is classified, a hazardous waste removal company creates a shipping name during the waste profiling process. Waste profiling is the process of describing the characteristics of hazardous and non-hazardous waste so professionals can confirm the appropriate treatment methods or the recyclability of the materials.  

Before transport, a waste removal company affixes the shipping names to the containers holding waste products; prepares the shipping papers; and mark the containers with the appropriate warning labels. 

Hazardous Waste Removal DOT Compliance 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created the Hazardous Waste Materials Transportation Act to ensure the safe transport of all hazardous materials. Hazardous waste transporters are subject to DOT, EPA and RCRA regulations, including: 

Obtaining an EPA identification number. This ID number helps keep track of hazardous waste and its transporters. 

Compliance with the manifest system. Hazardous waste transporters cannot transport waste unless a manifest accompanies the materials. The manifest must stay with the hazardous materials at all times. When the waste arrives at its destination, the recipient must sign and date the manifest. 

Use of DOT shipping papers and labels. The shipping papers created during the waste profiling process help the transporter and public know how to combat a spill or exposure if there’s an accident. The labels placed on the outsides of the containers should contain the name of the shipment, EPA ID number, United Nations number, packaging specifications and the appropriate handling guidelines or warnings. 

The proper handling of hazardous waste discharges. Even when waste is removed and transported safely, it can still be dangerous, especially if there’s an accident. In the event of an accident, the waste transporter must notify the appropriate authorities, such as the National Response Center. 

Hazardous Waste Removal Documentation and Manifests 

To help make filling out shipping papers and manifests simpler for transporters, the EPA and DOT created a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest that complies with the RCRA. This uniform manifest helps eliminate variability among different states, as well as the need to fill out state-specific manifests, and it makes shipment tracking easier. As of September 2006, the use of the uniform manifest is mandatory in all 50 states. 

Under the RCRA, the shipping papers or manifests that accompany hazardous waste must provide the following information: 

  • Details about the company that generated the waste.
  • Details about the facility that will receive the waste.
  • Description of the quantity of waste, including the number of containers and the container types.
  • Details about how the waste will arrive at the receiving facility. 

After a shipment of hazardous waste arrives at its destination, the client and transport company should receive copies of the signed manifest for their records. 

The proper removal and transport of hazardous waste is vital to public and environmental health. By working with an established waste removal company that’s licensed by local DEQ, EPA and local DOT, you can rest assured knowing your company is in compliance and the transport company is up-to-date on the latest waste removal laws.

Workers who are involved with hazardous materials must have the proper personal protective clothing for the particular risks involved in their job.  When cleaning up following an accidental spill of hazardous materials, it is imperative that all safety precautions are taken. pb