By Philip L. Comella and Craig B. Simonsen

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently published its final rule for the national electronic manifest (e-Manifest) system, which upgrades the current paper-based system of tracking hazardous waste shipments and disposal.  79 Fed. Reg. 7518 (February 7, 2014).

The rule indicates that it affects approximately 160,000 entities in at least forty-five industries that are involved in shipping off-site, transporting, and receiving approximately 5.9 million tons of RCRA hazardous wastes annually. “These entities currently use between 4.6 and 5.6 million EPA Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests to track hazardous waste shipments from the site of generation to sites of treatment, storage, or disposal.”

According to Mathy Stanislaus, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, this “action is a key step in bringing the oversight of these potentially dangerous materials into the 21st century.” “Once fully implemented, the national e-Manifest system will provide greater access for emergency responders to information about the types and sources of hazardous waste that are in transit between generator sites and waste management facilities.” EPA News Release.

We had previously blogged about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announced public meetings to “obtain public input from stakeholders” on the national electronic e-Manifest database system intended to capture information on shipments of hazardous wastes. The rulemaking had been described in and authorized by the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act. In announcing the public hearings EPA indicated “EPA envisions that e-Manifest will facilitate the electronic transmittal of manifests throughout the hazardous waste shipping process, including enabling better transparency by sharing data with the public at appropriate stages.”

The final rule is effective on August 6, 2014. However, “the implementation and compliance date for these regulations will be delayed until such time as the e-Manifest system is shown to be ready for operation and the schedule of fees for manifest related services has been announced.” Watch here for a full report.