Washington state’s Department of Ecology wants to make its hazardous waste planning fee more equitable by clarifying how it will be calculated. The environmental agency is proposing a change to section 220 of Chapter 173-305 WAC that would increase transparency and prevent an inequitable financial impact to businesses that report a waste stream designated as both dangerous waste and extremely hazardous waste.
In Washington, businesses that generate certain amounts of waste are required to submit an annual pollution prevention plan along with a fee that largely depends on the amount of waste generated. This fee is also based on the type of waste generated. Washington state is stricter than the federal government in its definition of “hazardous waste,” designating certain types as “dangerous waste” and any dangerous waste that is highly toxic and will remain hazardous for several years at a disposal site as “extremely hazardous waste.”
“Some businesses in Washington are finding it challenging to properly designate their waste due to the complexity of the existing rule,” said Katrina Lassiter, who manages Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program. “As a result, businesses that report their waste as both dangerous and extremely hazardous pay higher fees than those who generate the same waste stream, but report it only as dangerous. We need to rectify this inequity.”
Ecology calculates the Hazardous Waste Planning Fee using a formula that applies risk factors (i.e., multiplication factors) to specific types of dangerous waste. Currently, the agency applies the following risk factors to an individual waste stream:
- 1 for a waste stream that designates as dangerous waste (DW).
- 10 for a waste stream that designates as extremely hazardous waste (EHW).
Current law doesn’t specify which risk factor to apply to a waste stream that designates as both DW and EHW. The proposed change would specify a risk factor of 1 to waste streams that designate as both DW and EHW.
While the dangerous waste regulations don’t require all hazardous waste generators to designate for extremely hazardous waste (unless they meet specific conditions in WAC 173-303-070), the designation requirements do require generators to manage their waste under the most stringent management standards that apply based on their generator category. Therefore, this rulemaking will not impact the overall risk these wastes pose.
The rulemaking process
State agencies have authority delegated through federal and state law to implement and enforce various rules. Ecology accomplishes this through its open and public rulemaking process, which includes three phases:
- The first phase starts with filing a pre-proposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101 form) with the Office of the Code Reviser that states the intent of the agency to adopt administrative rules and the purpose of those rules. The CR-101 form is published in the Washington State Register and announces Ecology is starting rule development.
- The second phase begins when the agency files a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (CR-102 form) with the Office of the Code Reviser, which is published in the Washington State Register and contains the formal proposed rule language. The CR-102 provides background information on the proposal and other documents related to the rulemaking as well. This filing opens the formal comment period during which Ecology will hold at least one public hearing and the public is able to submit comments to the agency. Ecology considers comments as the agency finalizes its recommendations for adoption.
- In the third phase, Ecology files a Rule-Making Order (CR-103 form) that announces the rule adoption. The rule becomes adopted when the agency director signs the form and it typically takes effect 31 days after filing.
Those wishing to keep updated on the Hazardous Waste Planning Fee rulemaking process and when its public comment periods are scheduled can: