Explosive Waste

Explosive Waste

Hazardous waste comes in three forms: listed, characteristic, and mixed waste. Explosive waste most often falls under the second category, because of its reactive nature.

Characteristic wastes are those that display at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Ignitability: Liquids with flashpoints below 140°F, non-liquids that can cause fire, and ignitable compressed gases and oxidizers
  • Corrosivity: Aqueous wastes with a pH less than or equal to 2, a pH greater than 12.5, or with the ability to corrode steel
  • Reactivity: Hazardous waste that is unstable, reactive with water, gives off toxic gases, and/or is capable of detonation when heated or under normal conditions
  • Toxicity: Wastes that should not be ingested or absorbed

If the waste displays a hazardous component and a radioactive one, it is classified as a mixed waste and is regulated under the Atomic Energy Act as well as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

You can find all of this information and more on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste page under the Characteristic Wastes heading. Further information can be located in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 40 §261.23 Characteristic of reactivity.

According to CFR 40 subchapter 261.23, a solid waste is considered explosive if it displays any one of the following eight characteristics:

  1. It is unstable under normal conditions and undergoes chemical change without detonation
  2. It reacts violently in the presence of water
  3. It creates explosive or potentially explosive mixtures with water
  4. It produces toxic gases that are harmful to human health or the environment when it is mixed with water
  5. It produces cyanide or sulfide that, when exposed to specific pH conditions, poses health issues to humans and/or the environment
  6. It can detonate or explode when heated
  7. It can detonate or explode under normal temperature and pressure conditions
  8. It is a forbidden or otherwise defined explosive as determined by 49 CFR 173.54, 49 CFR 173.50, or 49 CFR 173.53.

Explosives can be further broken down into Division 1.1 (formerly known as Class A) and Division 1.3 (formerly known as Class B explosives). Division 1.1 explosives are capable of producing a “mass explosion hazard,” while Division 1.3 explosives can generate a fire hazard and a minor blast or minor projection or both, but not a mass explosion hazard like Division 1.1.

Some common examples of explosive waste include: fireworks, ammunition, rocket motors, propellants from demilitarization efforts, detonators, and airbag inflators. Explosive waste often comes from businesses in government, manufacturing, and chemical industries.

To learn more about how Clean Management can assist your business in handling explosive waste, contact us today.


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