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ISSUE 2: WHAT REGULATORY CONSTRAINTS ARE FACED BY LABORATORIES--PARTICULARLY WITH REGARD TO WASTE STORAGE, WASTE MINIMIZATION, ON-SITE WASTE TREATMENT, AND MIXED-WASTE DISPOSAL? HOW DO FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL REGULATIONS OVERLAP, AND HOW DO THESE JURISDICTIONS COORDINATE WITH EACH OTHER, IF AT ALL?

Research laboratories face constraints, in attempting to manage their waste-generation activities, that are related to the regulatory climate under which they operate.

  • Regulations change constantly, and jurisdictions overlap. The body of regulations continues to grow by leaps and bounds at various levels of government. In some areas of the country, cities and counties are enacting hazardous-material ordinances that do not necessarily complement existing state and federal requirements. In other areas, only the federal government is responsible for regulations.

  • It would be helpful if professional judgment, such as in a performance-based system, could be more often applied to many of the situations encountered. A number of waste-minimization measures, for example, would not be possible under existing regulations even though they would result in less pollution with lower control costs.2 There generally is little incentive for a regulator to grant a variance to the regulations or site-specific requirements under a permit unless considerable site-specific evidence is available to support the decision, but there is an incentive to be conservative. That consideration needs to be accounted for in any strategies involved in dealing with these issues. Research laboratories must somehow engender enough confidence in regulators and neighboring communities for the regulators to be more willing to entertain proposals for responses to problems. In addition, research laboratories must be mindful of the political constraints under which the regulators operate.

  • Environmental regulations appear to be interpreted quite differently by different states, and each indicates that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is the source of its guidance. EPA delegates authority to the states, and it would be helpful if it provided clear and unambiguous guidelines and were more consistent in overseeing the states' implementation of its regulations. At this point, there is no “court of appeal” when interpretations at the state regulatory level differ. Laboratory managers should also become more active in raising concerns with state regulatory agencies and EPA regional offices. Within states, there are attempts at consistency; but local jurisdictions, especially in California, are enacting regulations that might be more stringent than federal standards. Because

2  

Examples of waste-minimization measures are these: (1) increased holding times for partially used materials would make it easier for redistribution programs to find users for such items; (2) distillation in a central facility, within the institution, to service a series of laboratories might increase if permit requirements were removed; (3) exemption of permit requirements for laboratory scale (small-scale) treatment (e.g., destruction of cyanides) would allow treatment closer to the site of generation and reduce the amount of hazardous waste transported to disposal facilities.



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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH: Report of a Workshop ISSUE 2: WHAT REGULATORY CONSTRAINTS ARE FACED BY LABORATORIES--PARTICULARLY WITH REGARD TO WASTE STORAGE, WASTE MINIMIZATION, ON-SITE WASTE TREATMENT, AND MIXED-WASTE DISPOSAL? HOW DO FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL REGULATIONS OVERLAP, AND HOW DO THESE JURISDICTIONS COORDINATE WITH EACH OTHER, IF AT ALL? Research laboratories face constraints, in attempting to manage their waste-generation activities, that are related to the regulatory climate under which they operate. Regulations change constantly, and jurisdictions overlap. The body of regulations continues to grow by leaps and bounds at various levels of government. In some areas of the country, cities and counties are enacting hazardous-material ordinances that do not necessarily complement existing state and federal requirements. In other areas, only the federal government is responsible for regulations. It would be helpful if professional judgment, such as in a performance-based system, could be more often applied to many of the situations encountered. A number of waste-minimization measures, for example, would not be possible under existing regulations even though they would result in less pollution with lower control costs.2 There generally is little incentive for a regulator to grant a variance to the regulations or site-specific requirements under a permit unless considerable site-specific evidence is available to support the decision, but there is an incentive to be conservative. That consideration needs to be accounted for in any strategies involved in dealing with these issues. Research laboratories must somehow engender enough confidence in regulators and neighboring communities for the regulators to be more willing to entertain proposals for responses to problems. In addition, research laboratories must be mindful of the political constraints under which the regulators operate. Environmental regulations appear to be interpreted quite differently by different states, and each indicates that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is the source of its guidance. EPA delegates authority to the states, and it would be helpful if it provided clear and unambiguous guidelines and were more consistent in overseeing the states' implementation of its regulations. At this point, there is no “court of appeal” when interpretations at the state regulatory level differ. Laboratory managers should also become more active in raising concerns with state regulatory agencies and EPA regional offices. Within states, there are attempts at consistency; but local jurisdictions, especially in California, are enacting regulations that might be more stringent than federal standards. Because 2   Examples of waste-minimization measures are these: (1) increased holding times for partially used materials would make it easier for redistribution programs to find users for such items; (2) distillation in a central facility, within the institution, to service a series of laboratories might increase if permit requirements were removed; (3) exemption of permit requirements for laboratory scale (small-scale) treatment (e.g., destruction of cyanides) would allow treatment closer to the site of generation and reduce the amount of hazardous waste transported to disposal facilities.