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EPA modifies regs on solvent wipes use

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WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has modified the hazardous waste management regulations governing the use of solvent-contaminated wipes.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the EPA has excluded the wipes from the agency's hazardous waste regulations—with the caveat that businesses clean or dispose of wipes properly.

This comes, according to the Automotive Service Association (ASA), as the EPA's final risk analysis, published in 2009, concluded wipes possessing certain hazardous solvents do not pose significant risk to human health and the environment if properly managed. The EPA noted that wipes are used in conjunction with solvents for cleaning and other purposes by tens of thousands of facilities in numerous industry sectors including automobile repair shops.

“Today's rule uses the latest science to provide a regulatory framework for managing solvent-contaminated wipes that is appropriate to the level of risk posed by these materials...,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “I've heard directly from stakeholders about the benefits of this rule and the need to finalize it. The rule reduces costs for thousands of businesses, many of which are small businesses, while maintaining protection of human health and the environment.”

The ASA said the ruling excludes only wipes that are contaminated with solvents listed as hazardous wastes under RCRA that are properly cleaned or disposed of. To be excluded, solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed in closed, labeled containers and cannot contain free liquids when sent for cleaning or disposal.

Additionally, facilities that generate solvent-contaminated wipes must comply with certain recordkeeping requirements and may not accumulate wipes for longer than 180 days, the ASA said.

The EPA first proposed modified regulations for solvent-contaminated wipes in November 2003 and published a revised risk assessment for public comment Oct. 27, 2009.
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