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About the Data




About BRS Data

BRS was last updated on RTK NET with a set of EPA data made on December 15, 2016, and includes records from 1989 through 2015.

For 2003 data only, some waste generation forms from the state of Texas had duplicate ID numbers to other waste generation forms. These forms were not loaded into the database by EPA. As a result, tens or hundreds of thousands of tons of waste have potentially gone missing from the database for this year. EPA has no current plans to fix this problem.

The Biennial Reporting System (BRS) is one of EPA's primary tools for tracking the generation, shipment, and receipt of hazardous waste. It contains information from the Hazardous Waste Reports that must be filed every two years under the RCRA program. RCRA (the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) is the Federal statute that regulates the generation, treatment, storage, disposal, or recycling of solid and hazardous waste. Facilities must report their activities involving hazardous waste to BRS if they fulfill one of two criteria:

  1. They are a Large Quantity Generator (LQG) of waste, or
  2. They treated, stored, or disposed (TSD) of RCRA hazardous waste on site in units subject to RCRA permitting requirements.

The definition of Large Quantity Generator is complex, but a simplified version is any site that generates more than 2,200 lbs of RCRA waste in a single month, accumulates more than 2.2 lbs of RCRA acute hazardous waste in any single month, or accumulates more than 220 lbs of spill cleanup material contaminated with RCRA acute hazardous waste in any month.

Not all hazardous waste is reported within BRS. Some waste that might otherwsie be considered hazardous is exempted from regulation within RCRA as part of the original legislation. Some waste treatment units, in particular wastewater treatment units, are not regulated under RCRA but instead under other environmental statutes. However, BRS appears to be the best U.S. hazardous waste tracking database available.

Note that RCRA hazardous waste quantities are traditionally reported in tons (2000 pounds). Direct comparison of BRS and TRI waste quantities is difficult since TRI reports on quantities of chemical components while BRS reports on quantities of wastes (which may contain many different hazardous and non-hazardous components). For instance, if 500 pounds of lead dust was spilled onto 3 tons of soil, and this soil was shipped offsite to a landfill, then this would be reported as a transfer of 500 lbs of lead under TRI and as a shipment of 3 tons of lead-contaminated waste under BRS.

This access program makes a distinction between "Total" and "Federal" waste totals. "Total" waste includes all wastes reported within the BRS database. "Federal" waste includes only those wastes that have a Federal EPA waste code -- those that do not are wastes regulated by an individual state only.

Previous version of RTK NET's BRS access program also referred to "RCRA" waste. This term has a varying meaning according to the reporting year, but it basically means "the amount of waste included in EPA's Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report document". Because the method used to calculate this quantity varied from one year to the next, and because RTK NET's calculations could not be made to exactly match those from EPA's National Report, RTK NET has stopped trying to present its own calculations of these waste quantities.

BRS data can also be obtained through an EPA Envirofacts Query Form.

The data from prior years have been put into a common format by RTK NET, although they were originally different. Some years of data include data items that do not exist in other years. The RTK NET documentation on individual data fields shows the range of years that each was reported within.

There are a few important terms that are used in a specialized fashion within this documentation:

A facility that is a Large Quantity Generator of hazardous waste, see more detail above. Facilities may also by SQGs (Small Quantity Generators) or CESQGs (Conditionally Exempt SQGs) -- these do not have to report to BRS unless they also treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste..
Treatment, Storage, or Disposal of hazardous waste. This generally also includes recycling.
The process of treating, recycling, or disposing of hazardous waste. Sometimes waste storage is included within waste management totals and sometimes it is not, so look at individual data fields and their descriptions carefully.
Generated Waste
A hazardous waste that is generated at a BRS facility. It may later be managed on-site or sent off-site for management.
Received Waste
A hazardous waste that is received by a BRS facility from an off-site location, for purposes of storage or management.
A process, system, or unit that treats, recycles, or disposes of waste.

In general, the BRS database holds a core of information about each facility, with additional information about each waste generated by the facility or received by the facility from off-site.

The RTK NET access programs for BRS used to include an ability to search by industry. This has been discontinued for now because the industry codes within BRS have been severely fragmented by year. Facility SIC codes exist for 1989-1991, generated waste SIC codes exist for 1989-1999, and facility NAICS codes exist for 2001 and later years. It is therefore impossible to have a consistent industry search across all years. If sufficent user requests are received, we can consider putting back a fragmented industry search in some form.

Other notes on reports

All of the standard reports permit you to search by reporting year or range of reporting years. In addition, you can control the output of your search by choosing the level of detail, type of output, and Email address if any. Each of these options is explained in more detail in the next section.

If you have any questions, comments, or found any bugs in these reports please either send RTK NET mail to rtkhelp@rtknet.org or call us at 202-234-8494.

Individual Data fields

Additional help is available through the help file associated with BRS standard report output. (This link takes you to the output help file for facility or area reports, since they supply all of the BRS data fields and the generated and received waste reports do not.)