Concerns for Contractors: Non-Owned Disposal Sites
Where do contractors dispose of waste and what could go wrong with the disposal process?
All contractors rely on various types of facilities and resources to responsibly handle their waste. It quickly becomes ‘out of sight and out of mind’ once discarded, but it is an important part of the operational process contractors should carefully consider. Waste disposal facilities have seen a growing spotlight over the years partially due to increased efforts to recycle materials and better our communities. Conversely, we have also seen instances where public harm has been caused by the facility mismanaging their waste or by those who inappropriately discard their waste.
What type of disposal sites do contractors use?
There are several types of recycling facilities that sort and treat our waste. Most of us are familiar with plastic, paper, and aluminum recycling centers or maybe even scrap metal recycling for cars. We also produce a great deal of electronic waste or ‘e-waste’ that results from discarded computers, televisions, phones, and stereos etc. E-waste has seen an increase in negative publicity recently. Studies have uncovered lead and mercury releases among other toxicities that result with the accumulation of this type of waste if it is not properly disposed of. For example, cathode-ray tubes were commonly used in televisions and computer monitors have been found to be difficult to recycle and can cause lead poisoning as well. We are seeing environmental insurance companies becoming more cautious when offering coverages to e-waste recyclers by lowering the limits they are able to offer.
When items can’t be recycled, they have to be sent to a landfill. Municipal solid waste landfills are most commonly known for your traditional ‘trash’ from our garbage cans. Industrial waste landfills, also known as C&D landfills, are frequently used by our contractors to accommodate construction debris like brick, concrete, and lumber. Hazardous waste landfills also known as TSDFs (Treatment Storage Disposal Facilities) provide responsible protocols to temporarily store materials waiting for treatment. Some of these harsh materials can be reused or at least reduced with a variety of methods like incinerations or oxidation techniques while other forms of hazardous waste has to be permanently contained. With all of these forms of waste management there are strict measures taken to not contaminate surrounding properties, especially addressing potential surface and ground water contamination.
Who monitors these facilities for safety & how does that affect contractors?
The Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) monitors unacceptable hazardous waste management. It works to identify locations that cause environmental harm and provides both short term removal and long term remediation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also aids in finding Potentially Responsible Parties (PRP) who contributed to the waste in question. While not all pollution related claims become ‘superfund sites,’ it is important to recognize the effect mishandled waste can have on both public safety and the contractor’s well being from a financial and reputation standpoint.
How can contractors protect themselves?
Contractors can incorporate pollution policies to respond to these additional exposures. Not all pollution liability policies are built the same. It is important to review the specific policy if you have Non-Owned Disposal Site (NODS) coverage included. This provides protection from third party liability claims, not the owner or operator of the non-owned disposal site facility, for bodily injury, property damage, and or cleanup costs. Another detail that can be overlooked is if your NODS coverage provides offsite only or if it includes both onsite and offsite coverage. Depending on the risk, onsite coverage might not be available, but it is important to review and see what options are obtainable.
Due to the consequences of mismanaged waste, contractors must responsibly dispose of their materials as well as add pollution insurance protection for themselves from potential future liabilities.
Information for this article was obtained from the following sources:
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