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1991 National RCRA Hazardous Waste Biennial Report

Hazardous Waste Generation | Hazardous Waste Management | Hazardous Waste Shipment and Receipts

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the States, biennially collects information regarding the generation, management, and final disposition of hazardous wastes regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), as amended. The purpose of this report is to communicate the findings of EPA's 1991 Biennial Reporting System (BRS) data collection efforts to the public, government agencies, and the regulated community. The report consists of six documents:

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We have also included an Errata Sheet (Text File)

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RCRA Hazardous Waste Generation

In 1991, 23,426 large quantity generators produced 306 million tons of hazardous wastes regulated by RCRA. This is an increase of 3,000 generators and 108 million tons of waste compared to 1989. As identified in Exhibit 1, the largest hazardous waste generating states were Texas (104 million tons), Michigan (32 million tons), Louisiana (31 million tons), and New Jersey (29 million tons). Together, these states accounted for 64% of the national total.

In comparing 1991 and 1989 data, it is important to note that many new wastes were captured by RCRA in 1990 with the promulgation of the Toxicity Characteristic (TC) Rule. The TC Rule added 25 new hazardous waste codes (D018-D043) and required more stringent analytical tests for the presence of toxic constituents in waste. These codes captured, at a minimum, 137 million tons of previously unregulated wastes. An additional 25 million tons were described by D018-D043 mixed with other waste codes. This suggests that the new toxicity characteristic waste listings captured between 137 and 162 million tons of previously non-regulated wastes. Excluding these newly regulated wastes, the amount of hazardous waste generated in 1991 was between 29 and 54 million tons less than the 198 million tons reported in 1989.

Hazardous waste generators are included in the "National Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report" if they identified themselves as large quantity generators. The following are the federal criteria for being a large quantity generator:

According to these criteria, a generator that reports more than 13.2 tons (12 months x 1.1 tons) of annual hazardous waste generation must be a large quantity generator, because the generator must have generated at least 1.1 tons in at least one month. A generator that reports less than 13.2 tons in a year may not be a large quantity generator, because they may have generated less than 1.1 tons in every month. Of the 23,426 generators that identified themselves as large quantity generators, there are 14,190 generators that generated more than 13.2 tons in 1991, 8,086 that generated between 1.1 and 13.2 tons, and 1,150 that generated less than 1.1 tons.

It is important to note that the large quantity generators identified in this report have been included on the basis of the best available and most current information provided electronically to the EPA by the States. Both the EPA and the States have made significant efforts to ensure the accuracy of these data. However, the large quantity generator counts may include some generators that met lower, state-defined thresholds for large quantity generators. The EPA and the States endeavor to control for variation in state programs, but it is not always possible to distinguish generators that the federal threshold determines to be large quantity generators from generators that a state threshold determines to be large quantity generators. The EPA and the States also endeavor to ensure that only federally regulated wastes are counted in the determination of federal large quantity generators, but the large quantity generator counts may include generators that, when determining whether they were large quantity generators, counted wastes regulated only by their states or wastes that are exempt from federal regulation.

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RCRA Hazardous Waste Management

In 1991, 3,862 treatment, storage, or disposal facilities (TSDs) subject to RCRA permitting standards managed 294 million tons of hazardous waste. This represents an 800 facility increase in the number of TSDs and a 98 million ton increase in the amount of waste managed as compared to 1989. As identified in Exhibit 2, the states managing the largest quantities of hazardous wastes were Texas (104 million tons), Michigan (32 million tons), Louisiana (32 million tons), and New Jersey (30 million tons). Together, these states accounted for 67% of the national management total.

The majority (76%) of the national total was managed in aqueous treatment units. One hundred and thirty-two (132) million tons were managed in aqueous organic treatment units, 19 million tons in aqueous inorganic treatment units, and 74 million tons in both inorganic and organic aqueous treatment units.

Land disposal accounts for 9.0% of the management total. Nationwide, 23 million tons of hazardous wastes were disposed in underground injection wells, 1.7 million tons were disposed in landfills, 240 thousand tons were managed in surface impoundments, and 52 thousand tons were managed by land application (land farming).

Recovery operations account for 2.2% of the national management total. Facilities reported that 3.6 million tons were managed in solvent recovery units, 1.4 million tons were managed in fuel blending units, 1.0 million tons were managed in metals recovery units, and 480 thousand tons were recovered by other methods such as acid regeneration, waste oil recovery, and non-solvent organic recovery.

Thermal treatment accounts for 1.1% of the national management total. A total of 1.9 million tons were incinerated, while facilities reused 1.5 million tons as fuel in boilers or industrial furnaces.

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RCRA Hazardous Waste Shipments and Receipts

In 1991, 24,000 facilities reported shipping a total of 13 million tons of waste, of which five million tons were shipped interstate. The states that shipped (in or out of state) the largest quantities of wastes were Texas, Connecticut and Michigan. The states that received the largest quantities of waste (from in or out of state) were California, Ohio and Michigan. The largest net importers (imports minus exports) were Ohio (150 thousand tons), South Carolina (127 thousand tons), and Kansas (110 thousand tons). The largest net exporters (exports minus imports) were Massachusetts (197 thousand tons), California (136 thousand tons), and Texas (131 thousand tons).

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