Are fines for improper waste disposal the best way to increasing

Improper Waste Disposal Meaning


The Federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) are the 1984 amendments to RCRA that focus on waste minimization and phasing out land disposal of hazardous waste as well as corrective action for releases. Some of the other mandates of this law include increased enforcement authority for EPA, more stringent hazardous waste management standards, and a comprehensive underground storage tank program.

Federal facilities are required to comply with all Federal, State, interstate, and local solid and hazardous waste requirements (including statutes, regulations, permits, reporting requirements, and administrative and judicial orders and injunctions). Section 6001 of RCRA subjects Federal facilities to civil penalties and confirms that Federal employees are personally liable for RCRA criminal violations. Federal agencies also must reimburse EPA for the costs of Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF) inspections at their facilities, comply with procurement requirements, and cooperate with EPA by making available information on their agency waste management practices and hazardous waste facilities. Federal facilities are also required to comply with all Federal, State, interstate, and local Underground Storage Tank (UST) requirements, both substantive and procedural. Section 9007 subjects Federal facilities to civil penalties and subjects Federal employees to criminal sanctions.

The Federal Facility Compliance Act (FFCA), enacted in 1992, had four key impacts:

  1. Subjected Federal agencies to RCRA civil penalties by expanding the waiver of sovereign immunity.
  2. Provided that Federal employees can be held personally liable for RCRA criminal violations.
  3. Provided new management and reporting requirements with respect to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) radioactive mixed waste.
  4. Identified a process under which conventional and chemical military munitions are or are not considered to be a waste for regulatory purposes under RCRA.

Although Federal facilities were subject to RCRA provisions prior to the 1992 amendment, the FFCA clarified that Federal facilities are subject to penalties and EPA administrative enforcement orders under Subtitles C and I. Congress intended the FFCA to confirm the Federal government’s obligation to comply with all solid and hazardous waste provisions at all sites and to ensure Federal facility compliance with all Federal, State, interstate, and local solid and hazardous waste requirements.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005, amended Subtitle I and reaffirmed that Federal facilities must comply with state and federal requirements for USTs to the same extent as private entities. It established statutory requirements specifically designed to improve the environmental management of Federal facility USTs. It also provided a clear and express waiver of sovereign immunity which clarified that state agencies can bring enforcement actions against federal facilities for violations of UST requirements.

RCRA established three distinct, yet interrelated, regulatory programs:

  1. Hazardous Waste Management Program (RCRA Subtitle C): Sets national standards for:
  • hazardous waste management
  • provides for EPA authorization and oversight of state implementation of RCRA
  • includes corrective action authorities to address releases to the environment
  1. Solid Waste Management Program (RCRA Subtitle D): Sets national standards for the management of solid waste.
  2. Underground Storage Tank Program (RCRA Subtitle I):
  • Protects groundwater from leaking underground storage tanks
  • Requires owners and operators of new tanks and tanks already in the ground to prevent, detect, and clean up releases
  • Banned the installation of unprotected steel tanks and piping

RCRA provides “cradle-to-grave” control of solid and hazardous waste by establishing management requirements for generators and transporters of hazardous waste and for owners and operators of hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs). RCRA has been amended by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA), the FFCA and the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

RCRA mainly applies to active facilities, although, through §7003, it can address the serious problem of abandoned and inactive facilities. These abandoned facilities also may be covered under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). (Find RCRA at 42 U.S.C. §6901 et seq. and its implementing regulations at 40 CFR Parts 240-282.)

RCRA Subtitle I provides a comprehensive regulatory program USTs storing petroleum or certain hazardous substances.

Subtitle C of RCRA was enacted in 1976, replacing the Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Resource Recovery Act. Subtitle C (RCRA §§3001-3023) establishes the national hazardous waste management program. This includes the identification and listing of hazardous wastes; standards applicable to generators and transporters and to owners and operators of TSDFs; and provisions for permitting, inspections, and enforcement. Most States have been authorized to implement some or all of the RCRA Subtitle C program. State RCRA programs must be at least as stringent as the federal program, but States also can adopt more stringent requirements.

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