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Thurston County, Washington

Public Health and Social Services

Image of 2 people with vests talking
ecology catchphrase small changes make a big difference


Thurston County 's Hazardous Waste Program provides pollution prevention assistance and regulates businesses that handle, store, or generate hazardous materials or waste.  The goal of this program is to incentivize businesses to adopt best management practices that reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals.

Hazardous Waste Program Roles and Regulations

Thurston County's Hazardous Waste Management Plan.

Thurston County's Nonpoint Source Pollution Ordinance (Article VI of the Sanitary Code).

Washington State Administrative Code WAC 173-350-360 Moderate Risk Waste Handling.   

Disposal & Recycling of Specific Hazardous Waste 

Business Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance

Thurston County Hazardous Waste Program participates in the Pollution Prevention Partnership which is comprised of representatives from cities, counties, and health departments across Washington. The program is funded through the Department of Ecology and provides free technical assistance to businesses that generate, handle, or store hazardous materials or waste. 

Our technical assistance visits are designed to reduce or eliminate hazardous waste and pollutants at the source. A local pollution prevention specialist will meet with your organization to evaluate current activities and practices. They will discuss concerns, observations, solutions, and work directly to help solve common challenges around dangerous wastes, stormwater, solid waste, and spill prevention. This collaborative process limits liability, reduces risk, and improves work environments.

To read reports on previous campaigns, see Pollution Prevention Assistance Campaigns below. Examples of businesses we visit include different types of automotive shops, commercial printers, dental offices, dry cleaners, school laboratories, auto recyclers, and paint contractors.

When working with a business, our goal is to bring the business into compliance with the Thurston County's Nonpoint Source Pollution Ordinance (Article VI of the Sanitary Code) and provide them with the appropriate resources for correctly managing their waste streams in the future. If we observe practices or physical handling and storage methods that need to be changed, we'll set up a time to have changes made, and return for a follow up. Formal enforcement action is not our preferred method for bringing businesses into compliance with the ordinance.

When a business is determined to be in compliance with the county ordinance, they are given a Notice of Compliance (NOC), describing their general waste stream managed, the amount managed per month, and how they have chosen to manage the waste.

If a business is not in compliance with the ordinance at the conclusion of the initial visit, they are provided a Notice of Non-Compliance (NONC), which describes what wastes or products need to be addressed in order to be in compliance.

Most businesses that we work with are pleased with the outcome of our visits. Though some businesses may have to invest in pollution prevention equipment or supplies to satisfy the requirements of the Nonpoint Source Pollution Ordinance.  Many are already in compliance before our visit or are able to make simple changes to properly manage their waste streams.

Learn more about the Department of Ecology Pollution Prevention program.

Contact PPA Staff or schedule a Technical Assistance Visit

Thurston County Logo
pollution prevention logo from Ecology
ecology logo

Thurston County Environmental Health has conducted several voluntary pollution prevention industry campaigns to help Thurston County businesses understand and comply with the County's Nonpoint Source Pollution Ordinance,(Article VI).  Our philosophy about pollution prevention is to promote the use of effective less-toxic chemicals in industry.   Our program staff work with Department of Ecology to provide vouchers and financial incentives to promote chemical substitution in specific industry sectors.  When we start a new incentive program, we contact every business in the county and offer all the opportunity to utilize the voucher program. 

At the end of a pollution prevention visit, each business will receive a checklist of non-regulatory best management practices (BMP) that are aimed at reducing or eliminating hazardous chemicals and their impacts to human health and the environment. Specialists will note which BMPs are currently in place at the business, as well as which ones are recommended.  The waste reduction techniques can go a long way in improving your business.

Automotive Services

The automotive services campaign focused on commonly generated wastes streams, which include used oil, antifreeze, solvents, and paint-related waste. Technologies that allow for the use of non- or less-toxic cleaners were emphasized, as were proper storage, disposal or recycling of waste materials. Additionally, aqueous parts washers, spill prevention and secondary containment were highlighted. For more information, please see the following:


This campaign helped Thurston County nurseries, including tree and turf farms, become aware of environmental and public health risks from improper storage, use, or disposal of hazardous materials. The primary issues were disposal and secondary containment. To find out more, visit the links below:

Dental Waste

This campaign helped Thurston County dentists become aware of potentially hazardous wastes that are generated by dental facilities, such as silver-containing x-ray chemicals, scrap mercury amalgam, chair-side sink traps, and vacuum pump filters that contain heavy metals that must be managed properly.  Reported reduction was 21% decrease in mercury coming into LOTT after the dental campaign.  To find out more, visit the links below:


This campaign helped Thurston County photo developers become aware of the various hazardous wastes photo developing products generate, which must be managed properly to protect the environment and worker health and safety. These hazardous chemicals must be disposed of by recycling or through a permitted hazardous waste management facility.


This campaign helped County furniture manufacturing, repair, and finishing businesses become aware of the hazardous materials they use, offering less-hazardous materials and processes in their operations. See the link below for more information:


This campaign worked with Thurston County marinas in providing hazardous waste collection bins along with gloves, containers, and labels so that boaters could label and deposit hazardous materials. For additional information, see the following document.


This campaign helped commercial printers in the County become aware of the wide variety of hazardous wastes their businesses generate and how to treat, recycle, or dispose of them. See the link below for more information:

Retail Businesses

This campaign helped retail businesses in the County manage and properly dispose of hazardous materials generated as a result of doing business.  For additional information, see below.

X-Ray Processors

This county campaign raised awareness of proper handling of silver waste from X-rays, including disposal options (drop-off and pick-up services and on-site silver treatment).  Reported reduction of 34% decrease in incoming silver coming into LOTT after the X-ray and film developer campaign.  To find out more, visit the following links:

Auto Recyclers

This campaign helped Thurston County auto recyclers become aware of seven hazardous materials (gas, oil, antifreeze, batteries, Freon, lead tire weights, and residual liquid from crushing) contained in automobiles that should be removed from vehicles and reused, recycled, or disposed according to regulations. The County developed options for each of these hazardous wastes with an emphasis on reuse and recycling. For additional information, see the following document.

Small Engines

This campaign helped Thurston County small engine repair shops become aware of proper handling of hazardous wastes and modify outdoor marine engine testing to eliminate the release of environmental pollutants. To find out more, visit the following link:

School Labs

This campaign focused on Thurston County school labs, emphasizing chemical management, safety, purchasing, record keeping, and removal of high-risk chemicals. To read about this campaign, visit the link below:

The Wellhead Protection Program focuses on businesses within Group A water system areas.  This program is designed to evaluate businesses within these areas that could have an impact on above ground drinking water.  For information on Thurston County's well head protection program, visit:

Well Head Protection (pdf) 

Doing Business in a Wellhead Protection Area (pdf)

                                         Thurston County Well Head Protection Area Map

Lacey WHPA Map

Disposal and Recycling of Specific Hazardous Wastes

A permit is required prior to removal of asbestos. For details, please go to the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) site or call 360-539-7610.

After contacting ORCAA and at least one business day before disposing of asbestos, call Thurston County's Waste and Recovery Center (WARC) 360-867-2491 to request the current disposal rate and to make an appointment.  Appointments must be scheduled for weekdays, 10 a.m-2:30 p.m. Be sure to specify the type of asbestos-containing material (friable or non-friable, and whether it is pipe, pipe insulation, tile, etc.).

Wrapping requirements

  1. Thoroughly wet material.
  2. Double wrap in 6 mil plastic (not the equivalent) with no air pockets. Each layer of plastic must be at least 6 mil thick (not millimeters) to ensure proper strength.
  3. Seal with tape.
  4. Mark each bag with: "CONTAINS ASBESTOS" and your name, address, and daytime phone number.
  5. Take prepared package to the WARC.

Antifreeze is classified as a Washington State dangerous waste if it contains more than 10% ethylene glycol due to its toxicity. However, antifreeze is exempt from most dangerous waste regulations if it is recycled. If your business produces antifreeze as a waste stream, you have two options: recycle it, or dispose of it as dangerous waste. Recycling can be on-site for reuse or off-site by a vendor (see below for local vendors). On-site recycling units may produce a sludge that designates as dangerous waste.

Mixing Antifreeze with Other Liquids

Don’t mix antifreeze or used oil with other materials such as water, brake fluid, solvents, or gas. Label waste antifreeze containers and keep them closed (animals are attracted to the sweet odor of antifreeze—and it’s very toxic). Recycle often and don’t accumulate large volumes since you will need secondary containment for all of it. Maintain your disposal and/or recycling paperwork for five years or longer if possible.

Regulatory Requirements

If your business generates 220 pounds or more of dangerous waste in a month or accumulates greater than 2,200 pounds at any time, your facility is a small quantity generator of hazardous waste. Small quantity generators of hazardous waste must comply with the Washington State Dangerous Waste Regulations (WAC 173-303).  If your business recycles its oil and antifreeze, these materials do not count towards your hazardous waste generator status because they are not being managed as waste.  Recycled oil and antifreeze are exempt from dangerous waste regulations and do not need to be reported to the Department of Ecology. 

Thurston County encourages businesses to recycle antifreeze as much as possible. Thurston County also requires businesses to retain their receipts or manifests documenting how much they recycled or disposed of which vendor was used, where it was recycled or disposed, and when it was collected.

Antifreeze Management & Recycling Vendors that accept antifreeze, used oil, and used filters:

Additional Information

Staff from the Business Pollution Prevention Program is available to answer your questions about the proper management of many business wastes including antifreeze, vendors, best management practices, and ways to calculate pollution prevention costs. Please contact the Business Pollution Prevention Program at 360-867-2664, Monday through Friday during regular business hours or TTY/TDD 711 or 1-800-833-6388.

The WARC, Hazo House, and transfer stations accept only certain types of batteries. Reference the table below for more information. When possible, batteries will be recycled.

Battery Type

WARC Disposal

Rochester / Rainier Transfer Stations Disposal

*Alkaline: residential customers

*Alkaline: business customers

Hazo House  or Garbage

Hazo House


Not accepted


Hazo House


Lead Acid

Hazo House

Not accepted


Hazo House

Not accepted


Hazo House

Not accepted


Hazo House

Not accepted


Hazo House

Not accepted


Hazo House

Not accepted

*Customers must cover the battery contact points with tape or place each battery in an individual plastic bag.

Disposal of car batteries at the transfer stations is free, and Hazo House battery disposal is free for Thurston County residents. Businesses utilizing the Hazo House are charged the applicable waste fee.  Businesses must make an appointment at least one business day in advance by calling Hazo House at 360-867-2912 during business hours. Residential alkaline batteries disposed of as garbage are subject to a disposal fee. Commercial alkaline batteries in quantities of five (5) pounds or less can be taken to Hazo House free of charge. Check Where do I take my waste? (Thurston County Public Works) for additional disposal / recycling locations. 

Some contaminated soil can be disposed of through Thurston County’s Waste and Recovery Center, but the soil needs to be tested for specific chemicals prior to acceptance. For guidance regarding the testing and disposal of contaminated soil call Thurston County's Solid and Hazardous Waste Program at 360-867-2664. 

Animals on Roads or Right-of-Ways

Deceased deer or elk on unincorporated Thurston County roads or right-of-way, can be reported to Thurston County Public Works through this online service request or call 360-867-2300.

For deceased pets or small wildlife on roads or right-of-way, call Animal Services – 360-352-2510

Disposal and Burial

There are proper protocols and procedures for burial of animals.

Small, deceased pets or small deceased wildlife (<60 lbs) that will not be cremated nor buried, may be disposed of in the garbage or transfer station / drop box locations as long as they are double bagged.   To report deceased wildlife (not killed by a car, but by other circumstances) Report Wildlife Observations (WSDA). 

For Disposal of Livestock, including disposal of diseased livestock, refer to the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Disposal Manual (pdf).  For community members not accustomed to burying deceased livestock, we highly recommend checking with the Solid Waste Program about the suitability of a selected burial location, based on the published WSDA guidelines, BEFORE the burial takes place. 

To discuss proper burial of a pet on an owner’s property, contact Thurston County Environmental Health at 360-867-2664

Intact fluorescent light tubes, light bulbs, and ballasts are accepted only at Hazo House. Disposal is limited to ten (10) tubes, bulbs, and ballasts per day per customer. Disposal is free for Thurston County residents.

Businesses are charged a fee and must make an appointment at least one business day in advance by calling Hazo House at 360-867-2912 during business hours. If bulbs or tubes are broken, they must be disposed of as garbage, and a disposal fee applies. Ballasts labeled “no PCBs” by the manufacturer should be disposed of as garbage at the WARC or Drop-Box Facilities, and the disposal fee applies.

Fluorescent lights contain mercury and are classified as hazardous waste per Washington State regulations and should not be disposed of in the garbage. Thurston County residents may return them for recycling at the following locations:

  • Batteries Plus Bulbs: Accepts CFL, HID & Fluorescent Tubes
    2905 Capital Mall Dr. SW, Olympia (360-570-0000)
    Up to 10 bulbs per day at no charge
  • Hazo House: Accepts all types of mercury-containing lamps including straight fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, high-intensity discharge lamps, neon lamps, and mercury vapor lamps.
    2420 Hogum Bay Road NE, Lacey (360-867-2912)
    Up to 10 tubes or bulbs, and no more than 15 ballasts per day per residential customer at no charge.
  • Home Depot: Accepts compact fluorescent light bulbs only (no tubes)
    1101 Kingswood Dr SW, Tumwater (360-786-9890)
    1325 Fones Rd SE, Olympia (360-412-1900)
    1450 Marvin Rd NE, Lacey (360-459-4256)
    No charge
  • Lincoln Creek Lumber/Ace Hardware: Accepts CFL, HID & Fluorescent Tubes
    2421 93rd Ave SW, Tumwater (360-956-9147)
    Up to 10 bulbs per day at no charge
  • Lowe's: Accepts compact fluorescent light bulbs only (no tubes)
    5610 Corporate Center Lane SE, Lacey (360-359-9044)
    4230 Martin Way E, Olympia (360-486-0856)
    No charge
  • Olympia Ace Hardware: Accepts CFL, HID & Fluorescent Tubes
    400 Cooper Point Road, Olympia (360-236-0093)
    Up to 10 bulbs per day at no charge
  • Puget Sound Energy:  Accepts compact fluorescent light bulbs only (no tubes) - customers only.
    2711 Pacific Avenue SE, Olympia (1-888-225-5773)
    No charge

For information on business recycling of fluorescent bulbs, call the Thurston County Business Pollution Program at 360-867-2664.

Thurston County has an estimated 4,000 heating oil tanks used for space heating of homes, churches, schools, and small businesses. Tanks are either above or below the ground. A typical tank is made of steel, unfortunately steel is susceptible to rust (or corrosion). Over time, corrosion (particularly underground tanks in tight, damp soils) may cause leaks, leading to possible contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water.

A property owner can be held liable for contamination or environmental damage caused by a leaking tank. It is, therefore, in the property owner's best interest to determine if a tank is leaking. Oil tanks that have been out of use for more than one year must be removed from the ground or properly abandoned (decommissioned in place).

For more information on regulatory requirements, insurance, and how to decommission a tank, see Thurston County's Guidelines for Decommissioning a Residential Heating Oil Tank

Heating Oil Tank Contacts

Unincorporated Thurston County

  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-786-5490
  • Contacting fire dept not required
  • *Permit and site plan is required
  • *Inspection is required
  • **Soil test required: Yes, if inspector detects contamination or if tank is decommissioned in place


  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-278-3525
  • Contacting fire dept not required
  • *Permit and site plan is required
  • *Inspection is required
  • **Soil test required: Yes, if inspector detects contamination or if tank is decommissioned in place


  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-491-5642
  • Contacting fire dept not required
  • *Permit and site plan not required
  • *Inspection not required
  • **Soil test required: Only if tank is leaking


  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-753-8314
  • Also contact fire dept at 360-753-8348
  • *Permit and site plan is required
  • *Inspection is required
  • **Soil test is required


  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-446-2265
  • Contacting fire dept not required
  • *Permit and site plan is required
  • *Inspection is required
  • **Soil test required: Yes, if inspector detects contamination or if tank is decommissioned in place


  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-264-2368
  • Contacting fire dept not required
  • *Permit and site plan not required
  • *Inspection is required
  • **Soil test required: Yes, if inspector detects contamination


  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-754-4180
  • Contacting fire dept not required
  • *Permit and site plan is required
  • *Inspection is required
  • **Soil test required: Yes, if inspector detects contamination


  • Building Dept Phone Number: 360-458-8407
  • Contacting fire dept not required
  • *Permit and site plan is required
  • *Inspection is required
  • **Soil test required: Yes, if inspector detects contamination

*Obtaining the proper permit is the responsibility of the homeowner, not the contractor. However, many contractors include this process in their service. If your contractor obtains the permit, make sure you receive a copy.

**Soil tests are always strongly recommended because they are the only way to legally document that your site is not contaminated.

Why is Mercury a Problem?

Mercury is a highly toxic element that can harm the brain, kidneys, and lungs. As the only element or metal that is liquid at room temperature, it is used in many common household products and fixtures.

To reduce risks to the public and environment, Washington State has passed legislation making it illegal to sell or distribute certain mercury-containing products in Washington, these include thermometers, manometers (blood pressure measuring devices), and novelty items such as toys, games, jewelry, or decorations that contain mercury.

Mercury Pollution

Mercury enters the air, land, and water from many sources.  In Washington State, the top three sources from human activities are diesel fuel combustion, coal-fired power plants, and wastewater treatment plants. Municipal and medical waste combustion are also large sources.  Mercury does not break down in the environment, it is "persistent" and builds up in the food chain (bioaccumulates).

We add to mercury pollution if we throw a mercury product in the trash or wash it down the drain.  Each year, broken fluorescent lamps in Washington release as much as 1,800 pounds of mercury.  Thermostats and dental amalgam add an estimated 400 pounds each.  Broken thermometers may add up to 300 pounds.

Products That May Contain Mercury

thermometers (looks like a silvery liquid)
fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps
auto switches
float switches
button-cell batteries
latex paint (pre-1990)
some oil-based paints
alkaline batteries (pre-1996)
fungicides for seeds and turf
dental amalgam


Amount of Mercury in Products

Fluorescent light bulbs
Pocket Calculator
Button-cell batteries (watches) 
Dental amalgam
Older pressure gauges
Manometers and barometers
Plumbing traps

Amount of Mercury*
0 - 50 mg
0 - 50 mg
0 - 50 mg
0 - 100 mg
10 - 1000 mg
10 - 1000 mg
100mg to 1000mg
0 mg to 3 g
3 - 10 g
50 g to several pounds
100 g to several pounds

*Figures taken from Purdue University and NEWMOA (Northeast Waste Management Officials' Assn) Mercury in Products database.

Low-Mercury Lamps
Low-mercury or “green” fluorescent lamps are available from several companies. The lamps have green markings to denote that they passed the U.S. Federal EPA Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP).

The amount of mercury in lamps varies widely. Philip’s low-mercury 4-foot T8 lamp has only 3.5 milligrams (mg) mercury, but some HID lamps have as much as 90 mg. In 1999, the average mercury content for a typical 4-foot fluorescent tube was 11.6 grams. The best way to know if you are buying a lamp with low-mercury content is to ask the vendor. Exposure to the mercury from even the low-mercury lamps may still be a health concern, so breaking them is not recommended.

Manufacturers can submit data for specific lamp types to the Washington State Department of Ecology to receive written confirmation that their spent lamps do not designate as a dangerous waste within the State of Washington. 

Mercury is a highly toxic element that does not break down. Each year, broken fluorescent lamps release an estimated 500 pounds of mercury into Washington's environment. Workers may be exposed to elevated levels of mercury in the vicinity of newly broken lamps. 

Mercury in the atmosphere eventually becomes deposited on the ground and in water. A 2002 Department of Ecology study found elevated mercury levels in bass from 70% of lakes sampled, including those from Black Lake in Thurston County.

Fluorescent lamps are still a good environmental and economic choice because they are energy efficient ― using one-quarter the energy of incandescent lamps and lasting up to ten times longer. Reducing energy cuts down on power plant emissions of mercury and other emissions that contribute to global climate change, acid rain, and smog.

How to clean up a broken fluorescent lightbulb.

  • Avoid breathing vapors or touching broken materials.
  • Do not vacuum or sweep.
  • Open a window.
  • Let vapors vent for 10 minutes.
  • Use stiff paper or cardboard to pick up large pieces.
  • Use duct tape to pick up small pieces and powder.
  • Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel.
  • Place all materials in a sealed, airtight container, preferably a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.
  • Wash your hands.

Use an eye dropper to remove all visible beads of mercury or use stiff paper to scoop it up. Place the mercury in a wide-mouth container set in a pan to catch any drips and seal the container with tape. Use duct tape to pick up any remaining particles - shine a flashlight on the area to see any beads of mercury. Place all the items that have touched mercury into double plastic bags and bring to Hazo House.

If you spill more than two tablespoons, call the Washington Department of Ecology at 360-407-6300.

Additional Information
For additional information, click on any of the links below:

  • Mercury in the Environment ( - Risks to people and wildlife from mercury, its toxic effects and an overview of methylation; U.S. Geological Survey Washington’s Universal Waste

Unwanted Medications  (click for disposal information)


All of the sites shown on this map accept up to five gallons of used motor oil per visit for recycling. These self-service locations have no trash cans. We recommend bringing a plastic bag for empty containers, gloves, and a clean up rag. After pouring your used oil into the tank, wipe up any drips or spills and take your trash with you.

View Thurston County Used Oil Collection Sites (via google maps) Click on any of the blue place markers for the site name, address, hours of operations and any additional automotive waste accepted. Please note that hours of operation are subject to change.

You can increase or decrease the magnification and scroll right, left, up or down. You can also click on the hyperlink below the map to see it in another window.


Used oil is produced in many service and industrial activities such as auto repair, metal working, machine lubrication, refrigeration, and hydraulic equipment repair. Used oil can be recycled to make new lubricants or used as an industrial fuel when properly managed. When recycled, used oil is excluded from regulation as a hazardous waste.

Recycling used oils prevent potential pollution of the air, land, surface water, and groundwater. Used oil can contain cancer-causing agents, metal contaminants, and organic compounds that filter into the groundwater supply when the used oil is dumped, spilled or sprayed as a dust suppressant. Such contamination can result in serious hazards to human health.

Used Oil Defined

Used oil is any oil that has been refined from crude oil or any synthetic oil that has been used and, as a result of such use, is contaminated by physical or chemical impurities. Used oil must have been refined from crude oil or made from synthetic materials. Animal and vegetable oils are excluded from the definition of used oil.

Used Oil Includes:
Synthetic oil — usually derived from coal, shale, or polymer-based starting material.
Engine oil — typically includes gasoline and diesel engine crankcase oils and piston-engine oils for automobiles, trucks, small engines, boats, airplanes, locomotives, and heavy equipment.
Transmission fluid
Hydraulic fluid
Refrigeration oil
Compressor oils
Metalworking fluids and oils
Electrical insulating oil
Brake fluid

Used Oil Does Not Include:
Used oil mixed with hazardous waste(s)
Brake fluid contaminated with chlorinated compounds
Petroleum and synthetic products used as solvents
Kerosene, gasoline, diesel or jet fuel
Vegetable and animal oil, even when used as a lubricant
Wastewater from which the oil has been removed
Oil contaminated media or debris
Oil contaminated with PCB's
Metalworking fluids formulated with chlorinated compounds

On-Specification and Off-Specification Used Oil

To qualify as on-specification used oil, the oil to be burned for energy recovery cannot exceed any of the following limits. In general, if your used oil is just crankcase used oil and not mixed with anything, it will be on-specification. If you choose not to test for the on-specification status, or do not have knowledge* of your used oil it must be managed as off-specification.

*Knowledge is personally knowing how the used oil was generated, where it came from and what sources of contamination are possible. Knowledge also includes making decisions on new batches of used oil based on testing results of previous batches.


Flash Point 
Total Halogens (rebuttable presumption)
Total Halogens 4,000 ppm

Allowable On-Spec
5 ppm maximum
2 ppm maximum
10 ppm maximum 
100 ppm maximum 
100°F minimum
1,000 ppm
4,000 ppm

Level Analytical Test
SW-846, 3040/3050
SW-846, 3040/3050
SW-846, 3040/3050
SW-846, 3040/3050
SW-846, Method 1010
SW-846, Method 8021
SW-846, Method 8021

Note: Used oil containing more than 1,000 ppm total halogens is presumed to be a hazardous waste. Persons may rebut this presumption by demonstrating that the used oil does not contain hazardous waste by using an analytical method from SW-846. For test methods that may be used for the rebuttal, see the EPA's Method 9076 and Method 9075 (September 1994).

Used Oil Generators
A used oil generator is any person, by site, whose act or process produces used oil or whose act first caused the used oil to be regulated.

Generators are businesses that handle used oil through commercial or industrial operations or from the maintenance of vehicles and equipment. Examples of common generators are car repair shops, service stations, quick lube shops, government motor pools and other government agencies, grocery stores, metalworking industries, and boat marinas.

Used oil regulations do not apply to:

Individuals who generate used oil through the maintenance of their personal vehicles and equipment.
Farmers who produce less than an average of 25 gallons of used oil per month from vehicles or machinery used on the farm during a calendar year.

Best Management Practices for Used Oil

  • Use labels and signs to segregate used oil from other wastes at your business and train your employees of the importance of keeping wastes separate.
  • Store used oil in a leak-proof, closed container.
  • Drain and collect all oil on a covered and curbed, impermeable surface area away from drains.
  • Do not open, handle, manage, or store containers and tanks in a manner that may cause them to leak or rupture.
  • Use tanks and containers that are in good condition (no rust, structural defects, or deterioration) to store used oil.
  • Be prepared to stop, contain, and clean up any releases of used oil.
  • Take steps to prevent the accidental contamination of your used oil with small amounts of solid or dangerous waste.
  • Label containers, above ground tanks, and fill pipes with the words, "Used Oil."
  • Physically inspect all used oil storage containers and tanks on a regular basis.
  • Know the on-spec/off-spec status of your used oil before it leaves your site.
  • Know whether your used oil is prohibited from burning as used oil prior to it leaving your site.
  • Know how your used oil will be recycled before it leaves your site.
  • If possible, keep all containers stored inside or under cover.

Recycling or Disposal of Used Oil

Used oil can be recycled in the following ways:

Reconditioned on site, which involves removing impurities from the used oil and using it again. While this form of recycling might not restore the oil to its original condition, it does prolong its life.

Inserted into a petroleum refinery, which involves introducing used oil as a feedstock into either the front end of the process or the coker to produce gasoline and coke.

Re-refined, which involves treating used oil to remove impurities so that it can be used as a base stock for new lubricating oil. Re-refining prolongs the life of the oil resource indefinitely. This form of recycling is the preferred option because it closes the recycling loop by reusing the oil to make the same product that it was when it started out, and therefore uses less energy and less virgin oil.

Processed and burned for energy recovery, which involves removing water and particulates so that used oil can be burned as fuel to generate heat or to power industrial operations. This form of recycling is not as preferable as methods that reuse the material because it only enables the oil to be reused once. Nonetheless, valuable energy is provided (about the same as provided by normal heating oil).

Sending Used Oil Off-Site

The following is a list of acceptable places where generators can send used oil:

  • A facility that has notified Ecology as an off-specification used oil burner.
  • A facility with a boiler, industrial furnace, or space heater that accepts on-specification used oil.
  • A used oil collection center.
  • A facility that has notified Ecology as a used oil processor.
  • Another business site you own that may have a space heater if that site complies with the aggregation point requirements in the regulations.

Handling - Used Oil Storage

  • Label all containers and tanks as Used Oil.
  • Keep containers and tanks in good condition. Don't allow tanks to rust, leak, or deteriorate. Fix structural defects immediately.
  • Never store used oil in anything other than tanks and storage containers.
  • Containers must be closed at all times, except when adding or removing used oil.
  • Containers and tanks must not be opened, handled, managed or stored in a manner that may cause the container or tank to leak or rupture.
  • Thurston County requires all containers or tanks of used oil and product oils to be stored in approved secondary containment. For additional information, see Secondary Containment.


In Thurston County, your business options for used oil management consist of shipping off-site to be recycled, recycling on-site in an approved EPA approved waste oil heater, recycling through Thurston County’s hazardous waste collection site at Hazo House, or disposing it as a hazardous waste through a hazardous waste vendor.

As a generator, if you transport more than 55 gallons of used oil, you must deliver the shipment to an approved used oil collection center. The center must collect and retain the following information about you: your name, address, telephone number, date of delivery and amount being delivered.

Burning used oil in EPA approved waste oil heaters.

Used oil generators may burn used oil in on-site space heaters provided that:

  • The heater burns only used oil that the owner or operator generates themselves or used oil received form household “do-it-yourself” used oil generators.
  • The heater is designed to have a maximum capacity of not more than 0.5 million BTUs per hour.
  • The combustion gases are vented to the outside air.
  • The burner is operated following the manufacturer’s specifications.

Mixing used oil

No solid waste or hazardous waste can be mixed into or with used oil. If this occurs, the mixture is no longer considered used oil, and could be a hazardous waste (the entire contents of the container or tank.) Examples of the types of wastes that cannot be mixed with used oil include solvents, paints, inks, cleaners, and plastics.

Legitimate unused fuel products, such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel, or Jet-A fuel may be added to used oil if the mixture is to be burned for energy recovery. An example would be gasoline that was drained from a car at an automobile recycling facility and added to used oil. Mixing gas, kerosene, or other fuels with used oil may produce a “rich mixture” that may present safety issues when burned in a space heater.

Oil Leaks and Spills

Take steps to prevent leaks and spills. Keep machinery, equipment containers, and tanks in good working condition and be careful when transferring used oil. Have absorbent materials available on site.

If a spill or leak occurs, stop the oil from flowing at the source. If a leak from a container or tank cannot be stopped, place the oil in another holding container or tank.

Contain spilled oil. This can be accomplished by placing absorbent berms around the spill or by spreading an absorbent over the oil and surrounding area.

Clean up the oil and recycle the used oil as you would have before it was spilled. If recycling is not possible, you first must make sure the used oil is not a hazardous waste and dispose of it appropriately. All used cleanup materials, from rags to absorbent booms, that contain free-flowing used oil also must be handled according to the used oil management standards. Remember, all leaked and spilled oil collected during cleanup must be handled as used oil. If you are a used oil handler, you should become familiar with these cleanup methods. They may also be part of a spill response action plan.
Remove, repair, or replace the defective tank or container immediately.

More Informational Links

For additional disposal information visit: "Where Do I Take My?" (courtesy of Thurston County Public Works)

Dispose of Hazardous Materials

Hazo House
2420 Hogum Bay Rd NE, Lacey, WA 98516
Open Daily
8 am to 5 pm
Gates Close at 4:45 pm daily

Complaint Response

Contact Ecology Southwest Region Spills 360-407-6300 or call 911.

To the best of your ability, please be ready with the following information:

  • Where is the spill?
  • What spilled?
  • How much spilled?
  • How concentrated is the spilled material?
  • Who spilled the material?
  • Is anyone cleaning up the spill?
  • Are there resource damages (e.g. dead fish or oiled birds)?
  • Who is reporting the spill? (This can be kept confidential if you choose)

Thurston County will assist citizens and real estate agents by providing information about contaminated properties. However, if you suspect that a property is currently being used as a meth lab, please call the Thurston County Sheriff's non-emergency number at 360-704-2740.

Thurston County’s ordinance for contaminated properties from illegal drug manufacturing or storage.  Title 10; Chapter 10.92

Washington State regulations for contaminated properties. TItle 64; Chapter 64.44 RCW

Washington State regulations for decontamination of illegal drug manufacturing or storage sites Title 246; Chapter 246-205 WAC

Contact the Solid and Hazardous Waste Program at: 360-867-2664 or email us at if you have additional questions.