Section 1: Hazardous Wastes

All waste generators must determine whether or not their refuse is hazardous, either by applying knowledge of the waste (e.g., material safety data sheets) or by having the waste analyzed by a certified laboratory. Hazardous wastes can be characterized as wastes that are ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic and/or are specifically listed as hazardous waste because of their chemical properties and environmental health hazards.

Hazardous waste is defined as waste or a combination of waste and other discarded material including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material that because of its quantity, quality, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality. It may also lead to an increase in serious irreversible illness or serious incapacitating but reversible illness, or may pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment if improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of, or otherwise managed.

Hazardous waste does NOT include material that is solid or dissolved material in domestic sewage discharge, solid or dissolved material in an irrigation return flow discharge or industrial discharge that is a point source subject to permits under federal law.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you should be able to:

  • Determine if your facility produces hazardous wastes.
  • Follow up with your state government or your waste recycling contractor to determine proper handling and disposal protocols.
  • Develop appropriate temporary storage for hazardous wastes.
  • Build on knowledge gained from the Petroleum Control Unit, learning how to handle and dispose of used oil spill response materials.
  • Advise staff to assist boaters in determining how and where to dispose of their potentially hazardous wastes.
  • Implement use of a pollution-tracking log.

Best Management Practices

Evaluate Waste Streams

Many small businesses are hazardous waste generators. Even if you generate only a small amount of waste, the waste must still be evaluated and, if it is hazardous, properly managed. As mentioned, it is important to know what kind of waste you have as a means of protecting the environment, your staff and boaters and your marina. In case of an emergency, it is also helpful for you and the fire department to know what hazardous chemicals you may be dealing with. 

To determine if you have hazardous waste, you must know about ALL the wastes that come from your business. Go through your business and make a list of all your wastes (include even those that you think are not hazardous). Go through the list and carefully evaluate each waste stream.

  • Evaluate your waste stream, determine your waste generator status and comply with regulations that apply to your state.check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Evaluate all wastes generated at the business to find out if they would be classified as hazardous.
  • Keep waste evaluation information on file at your business.

There are two ways in which your waste can be classified as hazardous:

  1. Listed Hazardous Wastes. Lists of hazardous wastes are available from your state government. If the waste is on the list, it is fairly straightforward.
  2. Characteristic Hazardous Wastes. The waste exhibits one or more of the characteristics of hazardous materials – ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic. There are ways to test the waste to determine if it exhibits a hazardous characteristic, or you can use knowledge of the waste to help make the determination (e.g., either first-hand experience or information gathered from a Material Safety Data Sheet). The test for toxicity is called the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) and is performed by industrial laboratories.

 Hazardous wastes generated by marinas may include:

  1. Spent solvents, including acetone used for fiberglass repair
  2. Solvent-contaminated wipes or shop towels
  3. Waste paints
  4. Spent fluorescent bulbs containing mercury
  5. Used antifreeze contaminated with metals, solvents or fuels
  6. Used oil contaminated with metals, solvents or fuels
  7. Contaminated gasoline or oil
  8. Lead acid batteries
  9. Dust or debris from sandblasting or stripping

Keep any information that you use to make your waste evaluation in your files. If you do not have enough information from the process to evaluate a waste, you may need to have the waste sampled and sent to an environmental testing lab for analysis. Keep any lab results you have on your waste in your files. All hazardous waste must be sent offsite to a recycling facility or a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility. If you need additional assistance, contact your state agency.

Determine your Hazardous Waste Generator Status

Once you have reviewed all your waste streams and determined if any are hazardous wastes, the next step is to identify your hazardous waste generator category.

  • Determine the hazardous waste generator status for the business, based on how much hazardous waste is generated in a calendar month. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Identify and comply with the hazardous waste regulations that apply to your specific generator category. Under most state hazardous waste regulations, different standards can apply to a business, depending on the generator category they fall under. Consult your state for specific requirements.

Hazardous Waste Management

  • Meet all mandatory requirements for storage, transport, containment and disposal of hazardous wastes. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Store hazardous wastes and materials in appropriate, labeled and separate containers. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Store regulated liquid wastes in proper, well-labeled containers. For more information on storing hazardous waste, see “Store Materials with Care” section in Boat Maintenance Unit. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Collect hazardous waste only in tanks or containers – hazardous waste generators are not allowed to collect hazardous wastes in pits, piles, lagoons or other land units without a permit.
  • Keep hazardous materials on an impervious surface away from floor drains and covered to prevent contact with precipitation. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Provide secondary containment that is capable of holding 110 percent of the volume of each tank. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Minimize spills, leaks or releases of hazardous waste. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Prevent hazardous wastes from being thrown in the trash, dumpster, waste pile, or onto the ground.
  • Do not discharge hazardous wastes from maintenance activities into surface waters.
  • Ensure that hazardous wastes are not dumped into sinks, drains, or toilets.
  • Send all hazardous wastes offsite to a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility or recycling facility.
  • Document all hazardous waste training in each employee’s personnel file. All personnel who handle hazardous waste must receive training to ensure compliance with the state regulations.
  • Consult your state for additional requirements.

Minimize Your Use of Hazardous Products

By minimizing the use of hazardous products, you can reduce health and safety risks to your staff, tenants and contractors; lower disposal costs; decrease liability; and limit chances that you will be responsible for a costly cleanup of inappropriately disposed material.

  • Minimize use of hazardous products. check box for Regional Best Management Practice
  • Avoid using products that are corrosive, reactive, toxic or ignitable to the greatest extent possible. The use of these materials is likely to generate hazardous waste.
  • Adopt an inventory control plan to minimize the amount of hazardous material you purchase, store, and dispose.
  • Do not store large amounts of hazardous materials. Purchase hazardous materials in quantities that you will use up quickly.
  • Establish a “first-in first-out” policy to reduce storage time.

Manage Universal Waste

Universal wastes are a subset of commonly generated hazardous wastes and include waste lamps, batteries, mercury-containing devices, and some pesticides. Universal waste requirements are streamlined to encourage the recycling of these wastes.

This designation varies by state, so be sure you understand your state’s requirements. Consult your state administrative code for details; for example: Wisconsin Admin Code NR 673 and Ohio Admin. Code Chapter 3745-273.

Examples of Materials Managed as Universal Waste:

  • The bulb or tube portion of an electric lighting device (incandescent, fluorescent, high intensity discharge, neon, mercury vapor, high-pressure sodium and metal halide lamps).
  • Some pesticides, including hazardous waste pesticides that are either suspended and recalled under Section 6 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); suspended or cancelled as part of a voluntary recall by the registrant; or collected in waste pesticide programs.
  • Mercury-containing equipment consists of devices, items, or articles (excluding batteries and lamps) that contain varying amounts of elemental mercury that is integral to their functions. Some commonly recognized devices are thermostats, barometers, manometers, temperature and pressure gauges, and mercury switches, such as light switches in automobiles.
  • Hazardous waste batteries include nickel-cadmium batteries and spent lead-acid batteries.

NOTE: If not managed as a universal waste, then hazardous waste must be managed as hazardous waste under the applicable regulations.

Manage Used Oil and Filters

Examples of used oil include engine oil, lubricating oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and hydraulic fluid.

  • Do not mix used oil with solvents or other materials since the mixture may need to be disposed of as hazardous wastes.
  • Label containers and tanks as “Used Oil” and keep them closed unless oil is being added or removed.
  • Only use containers and tanks that are in good condition (e.g., not rusting or leaking).
  • Explore used oil recycling options. Call your municipal solid waste department or state agency for oil recycling locations. Recycling options include reconditioning, refining, reusing, or burning for energy recovery.
  • Use a licensed solid waste transporter to ship used oil to an oil reclamation company. Your state may require that you use a transporter with an EPA identification number to ship used oil offsite.
  • Remove, drain, and recycle used oil filters. If you do not recycle, consult state regulations for determining if filter should be treated as hazardous waste.
    • Purchase or rent an oil filter crusher to reduce the size of disposal waste. This device will crush the filter to approximately one-fifth its original size and will also remove the majority of excess oil for recycling. If you currently pay to dispose of your filters per drum, you will reduce disposal costs by placing five times more filters in each drum.

See: Petroleum Control Unit, Section 1 for more details on managing oil.

Example Regulations for Used Oil Filters:

In Ohio and Michigan, you do not need to handle used oil filters as hazardous waste if the filters are non terne-plated and have been properly drained of used oil; filters may be sent to the municipal waste stream. Non-terne plated filters do not contain lead in the metal portion of the filter and are commonly used.

However, oil filters were banned from Wisconsin landfills in 2011. Also, states have varying requirements for what qualifies as “properly draining” a filter prior to disposal. For example, to hot-drain a filter, bring engine to normal operating temperature just before removing the filter for draining. The oil filter should be allowed to drain for 12 hours.

Even if the drained filter is permitted in the municipal waste stream, we encourage you to recycle the filters as scrap metal. The oil collected must be managed as used oil.

For more information on oil and gasoline management, see the Petroleum Control Unit. For more information on spill-proof oil changes, see Boat Maintenance Unit.

Proper Disposal of Used Oil Spill Materials

Disposing used oil-absorbent material depends on the type of product and how it was used.

  • Recycle oil absorbent materials if possible, or dispose of in accordance with petroleum disposal regulations.
  • Standard absorbents saturated with oil or diesel only (no gasoline) may be wrung out over used oil collection bins.
  • Disposal requirements for used absorbent materials vary — see below and consult your state for more details.

Examples of Disposal Regulations:

Michigan: Oil absorbent materials should be double bagged – one plastic bag sealed inside of another – and disposed in regular trash. Standard absorbents saturated with gasoline may be air dried and reused. Small pads used to clean up minor drips at the fuel pump may be allowed to air dry and reused. Bioremediating bilge booms may be disposed of in your regular trash as long as they are not dripping any liquid. Because the microbes need oxygen to function, do not seal them in plastic bags.

Wisconsin: The disposal of oil-absorbent materials containing waste oil is permitted in landfills if no free-flowing oil is present and the absorbent materials are not considered hazardous (WI Act 152, 2011). Standard absorbents saturated with gasoline should be stored in fireproof containers to prevent evaporation and disposed of as hazardous waste.

Ohio: For absorbents containing used or virgin oil, talk with an oil recycler to see if it is possible to recycle absorbents (e.g. burned for energy recovery). In this case they can be managed under the used oil regulations and are not considered a waste. Absorbent materials that won’t be recycled can usually be thrown in the dumpster if they contain only oil and the oil has been drained or removed to the extent where there are no visible signs of free-flowing liquid remaining in or on the material. Although it is unlikely absorbents would be considered hazardous waste, it is your responsibility to make sure they are non-hazardous before throwing anything in the dumpster. In some situations, absorbents may be hazardous if they’ve been contaminated with heavy metals or if they’ve been used to clean up chemicals other than oil (e.g. solvents or gasoline).

Manage Hazardous Waste from Boat Owners

Hazardous waste generated by private boat owners is considered household hazardous waste and is not subject to hazardous waste requirements as long as it is managed with their non-hazardous solid waste. If you collect the waste at your marina:

  • Provide separate containers for the collection of used oil, antifreeze, solvents and each of the different types of universal waste and clearly label the containers.
  • Lock the intake to oil and antifreeze recycling containers to prevent contamination.
  • Instruct your patrons to get the key from the appropriate staff person or to leave their oil or antifreeze next to the collection container or tank. Assign a member of your staff to inspect the collection site daily for any material that may have been dropped off.
  • Do NOT allow patrons to pour gasoline, solvents, paint, varnishes, or pesticides into the oil or antifreeze recycling containers. The introduction of these materials results in disposing of the container or tank contents as hazardous waste — a very expensive undertaking.
  • Check with your recycler before mixing any materials. Ask if engine oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid and gear oil may be mixed in a waste oil container. Some haulers will also take diesel fuel and kerosene. Also ask if ethylene glycol and propylene glycol antifreeze need to be collected separately.
  • Post signs indicating what may and may not be placed in each container.
  • Use funnels to prevent spillage during filling. Remove the funnel and cap the container when waste is not to be added, or use a funnel with a spring-loaded cover.
  • If you collect household hazardous wastes from your clients and take it to the local collection center, keep it separate from your marina hazardous waste as a cost measure, as well as an environmental best practice.
  • Keep track of the household hazardous waste gathered from boaters. This can be done by having a sign-up sheet where the boater can list their name and the wastes they brought over.

In some areas, boat owners may be able to take their hazardous waste to a local household hazardous waste collection facility. If there is a facility nearby, post information identifying its location, phone number, the types of waste accepted and its days and hours of operation.

Track Pollution Incidents

  • Track pollution incidents and use a Great Lakes Pollution Report and Action Log to document pollution incidents and actions taken.
  • Post the Log on a clipboard in the maintenance area or another easily accessible location.
  • Stay aware of any pollution incidents by checking the log daily. Ensure any incidents are recorded. If incidents are reported, follow up to make sure they were handled properly.

Next: Section 2: Waste Reduction, Disposal and Recycling