View Full Version : HHW

Jerry Peck
04-14-2010, 07:57 PM
Household Hazardous Waste

What can you guys in the environmental profession tell me about the requirements for handling "household hazardous waste"?

I ask as I ran into a case today where something is considered as "HHW" and which I would never have guessed it was classified as such, and the difference in clean-up costs to what I have run across in the past will be staggering (i.e., "the difference" is staggering, the cost is going to be quite low as this is HHW versus being considered 'other than' household hazardous waste).

Jerry Peck
04-15-2010, 05:43 PM
AN underground fuel oil tank, rusted off at the vent pipe at ground level, overflowing when it rains hard - measured 38" deep fuel oil/water mix (hard to tell if it is mainly fuel oil or mainly water).

Volusia County has a program where they will come out and pump it out for free, and then a contractor (there are a few on their list) can be hired to go to the house and fill the tank with sand and seal the top off, then remove the contaminated soil around the tank.

The main problem seems to be disposing of the contaminated soil which is removed.

That process is a LOT cheaper than the way it was done in South Florida where the tanks were removed and all contaminated soil removed all around the tank and under the tank, for a distance out from the tank beyond the contaminated soil - just in case.

One problem with some of the tanks is that they are right next to the slab of the house and below the footing level (naturally), which means if the tank is removed the footing and slab must be supported while the tank is out and the soil is dug out, then piers/pilings installed to support the house as the clean fill going back in will never be able to be compacted sufficiently to support the footings and slab again.

Leaving the tanks in place and filling the tanks solves that major expense aspect of the tank removal.

I was mainly letting everyone know that HHW makes underground fuel oil tanks a much less problem when found at 'houses' (which is obvious from the "household" part of HHW ;) ).

From your link: (bold and underlining are mine)
- Disposal Options
- - Certain types of HHW have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers, contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets, and present hazards to children and pets if left around the house. Federal law allows disposal of HHW in the trash. However, many communities have collection programs for HHW to reduce the potential harm posed by these chemicals. EPA encourages participation in these HHW collection programs rather than discarding the HHW in the trash. Call your local environmental, health, or solid waste agency for the time and location of your HHW collection program. Also, read product labels for disposal directions to reduce the risk of products exploding, igniting, leaking, mixing with other chemicals, or posing other hazards on the way to a disposal facility. Even empty containers of HHW can pose hazards because of the residual chemicals that might remain.


jamie wilks
04-17-2010, 12:06 PM
Jerry Peck

Being a Home Inspector and a Professional Fire Fighter (as well as a member of the local Haz Mat team), I run into this type of situation quite frequently. Most of the time I run into these situations on the fire side, but if a home I inspect has an UGST; I let the client know of the issues regarding an UGST. In Virginia, each locality (city or county) has different regulations dealing with HHW; in addition the state also has its own set of regulations administered through two different departments (emergency management and environmental management). Some localities are very lenient, while others are stricter in dealing with HHW (not to mention hazardous materials or waste). Most localities have programs set up for homeowners to deal with HHW. As for an UGST (oil tanks), one again each locality is different and has its own set of guide lines or requirements. Some localities allow the abandonment of an UGST, while others require its removal (along with soil sampling, etc). There is also a state fund to assist some home owners in dealing with UGST issues.