The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was designed as a "cradle to grave" federal regulatory program for hazardous waste. It regulates the generation, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. Click here to access select sections of RCRA at 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq. at the website maintained by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University. Although petroleum is not considered a hazardous waste, it will be regulated once it becomes a waste if it exhibits certain hazardous characteristics such as ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity, or a listed substance has been added. Applicability of RCRA to an AST owner or operator will most likely occur upon emptying and removal of ASTs. If waste removed from an AST exhibits hazardous characteristics, an AST owner will be considered a "generator" of hazardous waste. Click here for a link to RCRA's hazardous waste generator regulations at 40 C.F.R. part 262. A "generator" of hazardous waste is one whose act or process produces hazardous waste. This classification will subject the AST owner to registration and reporting requirements. Click here for a link to RCRA's permitting requirements at 40 C.F.R. part 270. Links to these RCRA regulations are provided via the website maintained by the United States Government Printing Office.
Used Oil Standards
EPA's used oil standards are a result of the Used Oil Recycling Act, 1980, and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments, 1984, which amended RCRA. Pursuant to subsequent regulations, handlers of used oil destined for recycling must operate under certain criteria. Click here to link to the federal used oil regulations at 40 C.F.R. part 279 via the US GPO website. Under the federal standards, used oil destined for disposal must be tested. If hazardous, it must be treated as a hazardous waste and will be governed by RCRA Subtitle C. However, until the decision is made to dispose of the used oil, EPA's used oil standards continue to apply. There are different categories of used oil handlers including: generators, transporters, processors and re-refiners, burners and marketers. Each is governed by regulations. If an AST owner maintains a used oil tank, it may be subject to these regulations as a generator, marketer, or transporter of used oil.
A "generator" of used oil is one who first produces used oil through commercial or industrial operation and vehicle services. Pursuant to EPA standards, generators of used oil must: store used oil only in tanks and containers; keep tanks and containers in good condition and free of leaks; label tanks and containers as used oil; stop, contain and cleanup spills or releases into the environment; and use a transporter with an EPA identification number when shipping used oil off-site. A generator who ships used oil off-site to a burner may also qualify as a "marketer" of used oil. Markers of used oil must notify EPA of their activities and obtain an identification number. In addition, the generator/marketer must keep records of each shipment.
A "transporter" is defined as any person or business who collects used oil from more than one generator or transporter, or a generator who transports shipments of more than fifty-five (55) gallons to another party for recycling, disposal, or continued transport. If an AST owner qualifies as a transporter, in addition to the generator requirements, he or she must also: obtain an EPA identification number and notify EPA of any activities involving used oil; store used oil in areas with oil-impervious floors and secondary containment; track incoming and outgoing used oil shipments; determine whether the used oil being transported or stored is hazardous waste and act accordingly; and properly manage residues generated from the storage or transport of used oil.
In addition to standards governing used oil activities, there are also standards for ASTs containing used oil. Tanks must be free from all visible leaks and spills, and structural damage and deterioration. Tanks must be clearly labeled as containing used oil. Further, storage areas around the tanks must be equipped with oil-impervious floors and secondary containment structures capable of containing all releases until discovery and cleanup can occur. The floor under the AST must cover the entire area within the containment structure except where portions of the AST meet the ground. These floors must be impervious to oil. SPCC requirements, also discussed in this site, may also apply. In the event of a release, the used oil handler must contain, cleanup, and properly manage the released used oil and any materials used for cleanup in a timely manner. Leaking tanks must be taken out of service or repaired or replaced. A release of used oil may also be subject to CERCLA, SARA Title III, and Clean Water Act requirements, depending on the nature of the substance.
- 40 C.F.R. part 279
- Subpart A--Definitions
- Subpart B--Applicability
- Subpart C--Standards for Used Oil Generators
- Subpart D--Standards for Used Oil Collection Centers and Aggregation Points
- Subpart E--Standards for Used Oil Transporter and Transfer Facilities
- Subpart F--Standards for Used Oil Processors and Re-Refiners
- Subpart G--Standards for Used Oil Burners Who Burn Off-Specification Used Oil for Energy Recovery
- Subpart H--Standards for Used Oil Fuel Marketers
- Subpart I--Standards for Use as a Dust Suppressant and Disposal of Used Oil