The EPA on Friday finalized a hazardous waste export and import rule in a move that the agency says will better protect people and the environment from mismanagement practices.
“This new rule will provide greater protection to communities from mismanagement of hazardous waste when it is shipped across multiple countries to be disposed or recycled,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, in a statement.
The updated regulations consolidate earlier ones under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) more stringent hazardous waste rules. The law applies to all US hazardous waste exports and imports, although, as the Washington Examiner reports, 90 percent of these shipments from the US are to Mexico and Canada.
The rule requires mandatory electronic reporting of hazardous waste exports and imports to the EPA and the US Customers and Boarder Protection. Electronic reporting and linking the two agency’s export information will enable better tracking and monitoring of international hazardous waste shipments, the EPA says.
Border patrol agents will ultimately approve — or not — the import or export of recyclable hazardous waste.
The rule will go into effect Dec. 31.
In an EPA blog, Stanislaus says hazardous waste shipped across boarders for disposal or recycling increases the risk of mismanagement because shipments may be abandoned or sent to unapproved facilities that don’t safely manage the waste.
This rule will provide greater protection to global human health and the environment by providing for increased transparency, data sharing and more complete and efficient tracking for international hazardous waste shipments,” he writes.
Several industry groups had opposed the new rule because they say it will increase the cost of doing business and ignores Mexico’s poor environmental record when it comes to battery recycling, the Washington Examiner reports.
“While this revision would result in one set of requirements for all transboundary shipments, it does so by unnecessarily increasing the requirements applicable to the vast majority of those shipments,” Federal Recycling and Remediation Coalition, representing hazardous waste generators, said in comments submitted to the EPA in December.
“Therefore, the FRRC encourages EPA to withdraw the Export-Import Revisions Proposal or revise the proposal to maintain the current requirements applicable to transboundary shipments of hazardous waste and wastes subject to alternate requirements between the US, Canada and Mexico.”