Cleveland and Ohio Business Budgets: Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest System

It has been a long time in coming since, in May 2001, the Federal EPA initially proposed to transition from paper-based to electronic-based reporting for businesses in Cleveland, Ohio and the USA. EPA is now establishing the e-Manifest system according to the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act, enacted into law on October 5, 2012, and EPA has announced it will be launching e-Manifest June 30, 2018. EPA has had a pilot version of the e-Manifest system available to the general public for several months.  However, this system is still under active development.  Several key features are currently not available or require enhancements.  Additionally, the timing and content of new system updates is uncertain.

The “e-Manifest Act” authorizes the EPA to implement a national electronic manifest system and requires that the costs of developing and operating the new e-Manifest system be recovered from user fees charged to those who use hazardous waste manifests to track off-site shipments of their wastes. EPA is currently in the process of finalizing the methodology for setting user fees based on the costs of processing manifests.

Key features are:

  • e-Manifest extends to all federally and state-regulated wastes requiring manifests
  • EPA encourages the use of electronic submittals, though the statute allows optional use of paper manifests. and authorizes central collection of data from electronic and paper manifests
  • EPA is authorized to collect reasonable user fees for all system related costs including development and maintenance
  • EPA must conduct annual Inspector General audits and submit biennial reports to Congress
  • EPA must establish a uniform effective date in all states for e-Manifest, and must implement e-Manifest until states are authorized

The five Options for manifest submission established by EPA are listed below, from the most economical to the least:

  • Option 1: Completely electronic manifest;
  • Option 2: Hybrid manifest, which starts on paper and the transporter converts to electronic;
  • Option 3: Paper manifest to the Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF), where the TSDF submits data and a manifest scanned image after shipment is complete;
  • Option 4: Scanned copy of the manifest with minimal data uploaded; or
  • Option 5: Paper copy mailed directly to EPA.

Option 2 is currently not available.  Very few details have been released as to how EPA will do electronic conversions for Options 4 and 5.

In addition, Option 1 manifests require CROMERR signatures by all parties.  This type of signature is more than using a conventional tablet to sign your name. Although EPA completed and published e-Manifest Release 2.0 in January 2018 and is currently “user testing” it, the EPA has not yet given final approval to any CROMERR-compliant hardware.

Besides the technical challenges which remain, one inescapable reality is that user fees will accompany the e-manifest mandates, regardless of which option you choose (with option 5, continuing to use paper manifests, being the most costly approach!). The fees will be accessed by the EPA on the TSDF who will recover those fees from you, the hazardous waste generator, through its increased prices (perhaps a separate line item charge on each invoice).

EPA completed the User Fee Final rule in December 2017 and published it on January 3, 2018 (83 FR 420). The final rule establishes the methodology that EPA will use in setting and revising user fees in order to recover the full costs of the electronic manifest system. For further information about the user fee final rule,  please refer to the User Fee Final Rule web page.

At the time of this rule’s publication EPA did not have a final budget for the program in Fiscal Year 2018, nor does EPA have all the contracts in-place for setting up and hosting the system, and for running the paper processing center. For this reason, the following table of fee estimates should be interpreted as rough approximations of the final fees. EPA will publish a final two-year schedule of user fees when more information about the e-Manifest budget and contracts awards becomes available.

The fee estimates presented in the following table are per-manifest fees for each manifest submission type:

It is hard to budget for these increased costs of waste disposal until the fees are finalized but the math is simple (starting, most likely, at $20 per manifest X the projected number of waste shipments you expect per year).

With only a little over two months remaining before the targeted implementation date, MUCH remains to be resolved on the e-manifest system.  Yet, the Federal EPA insists that they will implement the e-manifest system on June 30, 2018, regardless of a state’s ability to adopt the e-Manifest rule or can assume implementation and enforcement responsibilities by the target date. Also, there will be changes which affect each user, even if you keep using paper manifests. EPA is replacing the current 6-part manifest with a new 5-part manifest form. The changes to the form include replacing the two copies that were previously earmarked for distribution to the states with one copy that will be sent to the federal e-Manifest database.

Besides staying tuned-in to CTI’s blog updates, frequently asked questions are addressed at EPA’s e-Manifest Program website and at EPA’s recently updated  frequently asked questions website. Other useful inks include:

Published by Stephen Kovatch

Senior Client Manager  Stephen J. Kovatch focuses on assisting clients in establishing corporate regulatory compliance programs in the areas of air, water, and waste management. Mr. Kovatch also provides direction to industrial facility owners who are active in the transaction of contaminated property by defining objectives, coordinating soil and water sampling protocols, risk assessment, and remedial / cleanup activities. He frequently represents clients in property sales negotiations and regulatory agency and insurance proceedings.

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