By Paul Ploumis
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized changes to existing regulations on export and import and hazardous waste from and into the country. The final rule was signed by Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator on October 28, 2016. The rule will be effective at the federal level and in all states from December 31, 2016. The final rules are expected to provide greater protection to human health and environment.
According to EPA, the new regulations address the concerns raised by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. It also brings the US in compliance with its legal obligations under the OECD 2001 Council Decision. The rule provides increased transparency, data sharing and more efficient compliance monitoring for international shipments, it noted.
Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, stated that the new rules are a result of EPA’s continuing efforts to improve the tracking of hazardous waste imports and exports. It offers better protection to communities from mismanagement of hazardous waste shipments. The official version of the final rule is expected to be soon published in the Federal Register. The implementation will be in a phased manner, Stanislaus said. Appropriate transition periods will be allowed to minimize the burden of implementing these new requirements, he added.
The new requirement strengthens tracking of individual import and export shipments. Further, the law will require EPA’s consent to an import notice submitted by either the foreign exporter or the U.S. importer. Further, all US hazardous waste shipments with Canada, Mexico and non-OECD countries will be controlled by one set of rules consistent with the stringent OECD procedures.
The new rule implements switch to mandatory electronic reporting to EPA that will enable increased sharing of hazardous waste import and export data with state programs, the general public and individual hazardous waste exporters and importers. The new rule thus ensures that internationally shipped hazardous waste is responsibly and safely handled. Some electronic reporting will become mandatory as the rule goes into effect. The full range of mandatory electronic reporting is subject to successful creation and implementation of respective electronic reporting functions. The respective dates of compliance will be announced accordingly.
The rule ensures efficient compliance monitoring mechanism by linking the consent to export with the electronic export information submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This will further strengthen the efforts led by CBP to convert the border-crossing approval process from paper-based to electronic.
The US EPA is a government agency which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment through laws. Headquartered in Washington D.C, the US EPA has 10 regional offices and 27 laboratories. The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education. It is responsible for maintaining and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.