What is elementary neutralization?

Facts and info about how elementary neutralization can help reduce liability and cut costs

When a Milwaukee-area manufacturer faced a complicated problem, they knew they needed to find the best waste solutions company in Milwaukee to help solve it. The Certified Environmental Solutions (CES) team was already providing sustainable industrial waste management services and they were quick to respond to this new challenge. The manufacturing needs of the client had changed, and a production line was being decommissioned and moved to a different facility. The removal of this production line would generate several thousand gallons of RCRA corrosive waste. Not only would the disposal of the hazardous waste be expensive, it would also affect their regulatory requirements and move them into being a Large Quantity Generator (LQG) of hazardous waste. The client’s normal generator status was as a Small Quantity Generator (SQG). There was a significant need to find a creative solution that was economical, would minimize the company’s liability, and would reduce the regulatory impact of this shift in production.

Elementary neutralization requires the measured mixing of various corrosive liquids, at certain rates, in certain volumes, with an appropriate amount of mixing, to achieve a pH close to neutral.

How can you neutralize thousands of gallons of corrosive liquid?

The creative solution we determined was the best course of action was elementary neutralization. But what is elementary neutralization?

Elementary neutralization is a regulatory exclusion that allows for pH adjustments to be conducted on corrosive wastes rendering them non-hazardous. The regulatory definition is,

Elementary neutralization unit means a device which: 

(a) Is used for neutralizing wastes only because they exhibit the corrosivity characteristic defined in § 261.22 of this chapter, or are listed in subpart D of part 261 of this chapter only for this reason; and 

(b) Meets the definition of tank, tank system, container, transport vehicle, or vessel in § 260.10 of this chapter.  

Non-hazardous industrial wastewater in a 1,000-gallon mixing vat at Milwaukee manufacturing facility after elementary neutralization was performed on corrosive liquids.

Sixty-three percent (63%) cost savings!

As you consider if elementary neutralization is appropriate for your operations, there are several aspects to be mindful. First, elementary neutralization only refers to simple pH adjustments, not to address other hazardous characteristics such as toxicity due to RCRA Heavy Metals. Second, neutralized waste should only be discharged down the drain if it meets all applicable local, state, and federal requirements. You may still have to ship the neutralized waste offsite for further treatment before it can be discharged. Third, elementary neutralization contains certain health and safety considerations and should only be done by trained professionals. Corrosive liquids going thru a chemical reaction can off-gas, generate heat, and even boil if they are water-reactive. Lastly, even after you have neutralized the corrosive liquids, you should retest the results after the waste has been allowed to settle to ensure the pH is stable. If the material was not thoroughly mixed, the pH has the potential to rise or fall back into being considered a RCRA corrosive waste. 

Once we determined that elementary neutralization was the best solution for this project, the experienced CES team put a comprehensive plan in place and within a short period of time the corrosive liquids had been safely neutralized and shipped offsite as a non-hazardous waste for wastewater treatment. Not only did this solution reduce the disposal expenses by sixty-three percent (63%), it also eliminated the concern of increased regulatory liability.     

Certified Environmental Solutions (CES) is your best option for a responsive environmental services partner in Milwaukee. To learn more about our competitive pricing and creative solutions for chemical waste disposal in Milwaukee, visit our website; www.certifiedenv.com. Or please contact a team member via e-mail at: info@certifiedenv.com or phone at (262) 800-8520. A member of our team will respond to your inquiry quickly. We look forward to helping you achieve your environmental, health, and safety program goals. 

As a comprehensive environmental services provider, we can help you with many aspects of your EH&S programs, including cost reduction, improved sustainability, reduced liability, responsive services, and proactive account management.

Certified Environmental Solutions, “Protecting the Environment and Your Business”