You can never be too careful when dealing with hazardous waste, especially when discarding it. Businesses whose work produces hazardous waste as a byproduct must store it properly onsite in hazardous waste drums or other certified containers until it can be removed by hazmat professionals. While the waste is onsite at their business it’s their responsibility, and any mishaps would be blamed on them. However, once the waste is finally taken away to a storage site, these businesses remain in a tenuous situation. Despite the fact that the waste is no longer on their property or within their care, these business owners can still be held liable if something happens at the storage site.
As stipulated in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) there are four reasons a business can get in trouble for their hazardous waste:
- Hazardous wastes are present at a facility
- There is a release, or possibility of a release of these hazardous substances
- Response costs have been or will be incurred
- The defendant is a liable party
In addition, there are four classes of liable parties:
- Current owners and operators of a facility
- Past owners and operators of a facility at the time hazardous waste had been disposed
- Generators and parties that arranged for the disposal or transport of the hazardous substances
- Transporters of hazardous waste that selected the site where the hazardous substances were brought.
Based on these regulations, businesses who hire others to dispose of their hazardous waste can still be found liable for regulations broken by a completely separate party.
Our advice is to do extensive research about prospective hazmat partners. Look into storage quality, trustworthiness of disposal company, and longevity of both. Find hazardous waste drums that are reliable and durable and a partner company who knows their stuff, so you can feel confident that your materials are being stored properly and you won’t get hit with penalties later.