The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has finalized a rule to improve the nation’s hazardous waste regulations to protect public health and the environment. The updated Hazardous Waste Import and Export Regulations streamline the hazardous waste export and import process, implement mandatory electronic reporting for international shipments and electronically linking export information.
According to Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management: “This new rule will provide greater protection to communities from mismanagement of hazardous waste when it is shipped across multiple countries to be disposed or recycled. The rule provides for improved transparency, data sharing and tracking for international shipments.”
In a, EPA blog, Stanislaus said: “When hazardous waste is shipped across multiple countries to be disposed of or recycled, there can be a higher risk of mismanagement, which endangers the health and safety of surrounding communities. Abandoned shipments — or shipments sent to unapproved facilities that are not able to manage the wastes appropriately — present the biggest dangers to people and the environment.”
The final rule improves and consolidates previous regulations so that one set of requirements – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) more stringent controlling transboundary movements of hazardous waste requirements – applies to all U.S. hazardous waste exports and imports.
More efficient compliance monitoring will be provided by the rule’s requirement to link the consent to export with the electronic export information submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These regulations support a broader U.S. government effort led by CBP to convert from a paper-based border-crossing approval process for a wide range of exports and imports, to an electronic border-crossing approval process. This rule covers the hazardous waste export component of this larger International Trade Data System initiative.
Additionally, the new rule requires mandatory electronic reporting to EPA, which will enable increased sharing of hazardous waste export and import data with state programs, the general public and individual hazardous waste exporters and importers.
While some electronic reporting will be required when the rule becomes effective, the full range of electronic reporting will not be mandatory until the respective electronic reporting functions are built and beta tested, at which point a compliance date will be announced in a separate Federal Register announcement.