Stakeholder Update – 05/24/2021

487 + 12 +

I just looked it up, as of this month, WTS has a network of 487 suppliers and 12 in our queue for evaluation and approval into what already is the largest network of Treatment, Storage, Disposal, Processing and Recycling Facilities along with Labs, Environmental Site Contractors and Transporters. These responsible and essential stakeholders are in addition to all our customers, who we view as potential end users for by-products.

“So what?  What’s your point, Mike?”  my good friend and counselor to leaders Bob Harries would ask.  I will tell you what: since joining WTS in 1996, I have never experienced a period like the current, whereby having access to the WTS Network of suppliers has been more valuable for the management of by-products, distressed and off-specification inventory and waste materials.

Before I get into the details allow me first to provide an overview of what is included in this month’s communication. Get to know James Moulds in our employee spotlight.  Many of you may have already met James who has been with WTS for close to 25 years.  James brings invaluable experience and knowledge to our WTS team and customers in his role as the Senior Environmental Manager on staff. Elsewhere, we are featuring an interesting case study on an on-going Sustainable Solution we developed for two of our core clients around the re-use of by-product rather than disposing of the materials as waste to power the circular economy, information regarding Hazardous Waste Generator status and its implications, and we have updated recent articles published on the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule and managing Aerosols as Universal Waste.

Back to the value of the WTS network and a deeper dive into the current State of the Hazardous/Industrial By-Product and Waste marketplace. The ongoing pandemic, various shutdowns (both planned and unplanned) compounded by natural disasters, industry consolidation, the barriers to entry into the hazardous waste space and growing volumes leave the demand for service surpassing the available capacity. The combination of these unprecedented factors is now leading to delays in pick-ups, processing, and efficient management of materials.  

We have now reached a point where fulfilling simple service requests, which in the past could be accomplished in a matter of days, now takes weeks to complete. This is not related to a particular geographic area or service sector but is rather industry-wide. However, it does seem that the most severe implications have taken place in the commercial Hazardous Waste Incineration area and the Hazardous Waste transportation network. Some further thoughts on why this is occurring follow:

Incineration: As a sign of a robust economy and increase in manufacturing leading to an increase in by-products, there seems to be an unprecedented demand for Hazardous Waste Incineration.  WTS counts 9 permitted HW incinerators in our network and we are in constant communication with them. They all report to be at, near or over-capacity in terms of receipts.  We can focus on three main reasons for this: (1) the aforementioned economic reasons, (2) effects and after-effects from the Covid- 19 pandemic – many facilities experienced temporary shutdowns which affected their ability to process in a timely fashion and leading to backlogs and (3) the deep freeze that was experienced in southern USA, particularly in Texas and Arkansas where 4 Hazardous Waste Incinerators are located. Not only did this result in the 4 incinerators being unable to process inbound receipts but shipments were diverted to other incinerators that were already at or beyond capacity.

WTS is actively monitoring the situation but as of this writing, there does not appear to relief in sight as volumes bound for incineration continue while processing backlogs have failed to catch up. For our valued clients, rest assured that your WTS representatives will continue to work diligently with you to accommodate your scheduling needs and we pledge to be transparent with you in our efforts.

An issue that may arise is compliance with 90-day (Large Quantity Generators) and 180-day (Small Quantity Generators) accumulation time limits. Please note that it is possible for generators to request extensions, typically for up to 30 days. 40CFR 262.34 allows LQG to accumulate hazardous waste on-site beyond 90 days if they have been granted an extension by the USEPA or an authorized state for “unforeseen, temporary, and uncontrollable circumstances” and allows for SQG to request extensions beyond 180 days in the same manner.  Additionally, note that SQG may always accumulate for up to 270 days if their designated TSDF is located more than 200 miles away. Notification is not required for this. The extension is granted at the discretion of the Agency or authorized state on a case-by-case basis. Note that states may have specific processes to request such an extension. California for example requires submission of a 30-day Storage Extension Application: Link: 30-day Storage Extension Application. Generators should always consult with their designated regulatory agency for specifics. As a best practice, extension requests should be done prior to the 90/180/270 timeframe expiration and should include detail such as Generator Information, volumes, and types of affected Hazardous Waste in Accumulation areas, original Accumulation dates and reason for delay in shipment. Again, always contact the respective regulatory authority ahead of time to determine if any specific requirements are in place.

As deliveries continue to be delayed, clients that are Large Quantity(LQG) or Small Quantity Generators(SQG) or that are required to do so by a state, should be advised to monitor dates around Return Manifest per 40CFR 262.42 and if they have not either received an executed copy from the TSDF or obtained a copy from the USEPA e-Manifest portal within 45 days of shipment for a LQG, they should file an exception report as follows :

  • A LQG must submit an Exception Report to the USEPA, or state if so authorized, if they have not received a copy of the manifest with either the handwritten signature of the owner or operator of the designated facility within 45 days (LQG) of the date the waste was accepted by the initial transporter.  Note: e-Manifest portal “copies” are acceptable. The Exception Report must include the following:
    • A legible copy of the manifest (i.e. -Generator’s copy) for which the generator does not have confirmation of delivery; and,
    • A cover letter signed by the generator or their authorized representative explaining the efforts taken to locate the hazardous waste and the results of those efforts.
  • An LQG must keep a copy of each Exception Report for at least three years from the due date of the report.
  • A SQG must submit a legible copy of the manifest, with some indication that the generator has not received confirmation of delivery to the USEPA or state if so authorized, if they do not receive a copy of the manifest with the handwritten signature of the owner or operator of the designated facility within 60 days of the date the waste was accepted by the initial transporter. Note: E-manifest portal “copies” are acceptable.
  • Since an SQG is not required to submit an Exception Report, it is not required to maintain a record pursuant to §262.42(b).  However, it is a good idea to maintain a record of your submittal for at least three years.
  • Note: The submission to EPA need only be a handwritten or typed note on the manifest itself, or on an attached sheet of paper, stating that the return copy was not received.

Should either one of these situations occur, please feel free to reach out to your WTS Technical Representative for assistance.

Hazardous Waste Transportation: The overall trucking industry has suffered from a capacity issue for several years and the Hazardous Waste Transportation network is not immune from this.  The cause of the capacity issue can be summarized quite simply in two words: Driver Shortage.  WTS has 64 transporters of various size and service lines located throughout the United States. They all report issues with having enough drivers on staff. At the end of 2018, there were an estimated 60,000 drivers needed, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA), which noted that the problem has only gotten worse. In 2021 and beyond, to help offset the demand, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the 10 years or an average of 110,000 per year, ATA said. Issues that face the industry include the following:

  • Younger workers are not entering the industry at a rate high enough to replace an aging workforce (57% > 45).
  • Younger workers who are attracted to the logistics industry are gravitating towards warehousing not trucking (>62% of warehouse jobs are filled by people < 45).
  • Most open truck driving jobs are for long-haul, over the road positions. The drivers of today more often opt for short-haul, local jobs so they can obtain the work-life balance we all seek. There is vast competition amongst trucking companies for the same open positions and companies prefer experienced drivers, while entry to the field and the process of obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License requires time, training, and money.

Our industry is more severely impacted by these trends, as the requirements in place for specialized services (Vacuum tankers, roll-off trailers, etc.) and intense training (DOT/PHSMA; Hazardous Waste; OSHA, etc.) can be viewed as a detriment by prospective or current drivers who may opt for a less onerous driver position. On a brighter note, legislation has recently been introduced in Congress for the DRIVE-Safe Act.  Federal law currently prohibits commercially licensed adults from driving across state lines before age 21 even though young adults become eligible to seek commercial driver’s licenses at age 18 in most states. The DRIVE-Safe act would lower that requirement to 18 in conjunction with enhanced safety and training standards for newly qualified and current drivers. Under the legislation, once a driver qualifies for a commercial driver’s license, they begin a two-step additional training program with rigorous performance benchmarks. Drivers must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time in the cab with an experienced driver. Every driver will train on trucks equipped with new safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and a speed governor of 65 miles per hour or below.  

WTS supports this legislation and we encourage all of our stakeholders to do the same. We also want to reiterate that, though the challenges we face may seem daunting at times, the entire WTS team is committed to providing our clients and our stakeholders with the highest level of service we can provide. We also commit to being transparent and working tirelessly with our stakeholders to overcome these challenges to deliver to you the service you have been accustomed to.

Thank you for your support. As stakeholders may we continue forward together, responsibly and collaboratively. Together is the best way through. Please feel free to contact me or any member of the WTS staff to discuss these or any other issues or concerns that you may have.