The Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) was enacted in 1976 to protect citizens from hazardous waste by controlling the manner in which waste is disposed. The New York Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Law is the state counterpart to the RCRA, designed to safeguard the public while encouraging the conservation of energy and natural resources.
Both state and federal laws regulate the management of solid waste, hazardous waste, and holding tanks containing petroleum products and other chemicals by dictating how and where such waste must be disposed. Certain types of waste disposed of within the property boundaries of a farm are exempt from these regulatory requirements, including:
1. Solid waste generated within the property boundaries of the farm;
2. Animal and aquaculture manure, carcasses, and parts generated from farm activities; and
3. Pesticide waste disposed of in accordance with the guidelines printed on the pesticide labeling
Although pesticide waste is excluded from the RCRA and the state law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) imposes restrictions on farmers regarding the management of pesticides.
Disposal of non-exempt waste may place a farmer into one of three RCRA generator categories: Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator, Small Quantity Generator, and Large Quantity Generator. Each classification carries with it corresponding requirements, such as:
-Obtaining an EPA identification number
-Preparedness and prevention planning.
New York’s Hazardous Substances Bulk Storage Act (“HSBSA”) and Chemical Bulk Storage Regulations (“CBSR”) govern the management of hazardous substances, excluding petroleum products, stored in underground, aboveground, and non-stationary storage tanks. Bulk storage of petroleum products are controlled separately under New York’s Resource Management Services Regulations (“RMSR”). Under these state laws and the RCRA, farmers are subject to specific maintenance, inspection, reporting, handling, and storage requirements for petroleum and hazardous chemicals.
Farmers must practice proper spill prevention, maintenance, and disposal of waste protocols. The improper handling of waste material, hazardous chemicals, or petroleum can result in administrative, civil, and criminal penalties. Farmers are encouraged to contact the NYDEC if they are unsure whether specific waste is hazardous to ensure proper compliance.