RCRA cleanups at hazardous waste facilities

Date Posted: 10/31/2022
Hazardous Waste Cleanup

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) sets standards for responsible solid waste management and safeguards for hazardous wastes, from generation to transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. Under the law, Corrective Action is a necessity. Facilities that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste must investigate and clean up hazardous releases into soil, ground water, surface water, and air. Nearly 111 million people live within three miles of a RCRA Corrective Action cleanup.

EPA implements the program predominantly through permits and orders issued under statutory authorities established by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984. In addition to EPA, 44 states and territories are authorized to run the Corrective Action program. RCRA Corrective Action facilities vary greatly. Among other types of entities, they include:

Present and past chemical manufacturing plants,

  • Oil refineries,
  • Lead smelters,
  • Wood preservers,
  • Steel mills,
  • Commercial landfills, and
  • Federal facilities.

Usually, facilities are brought into the RCRA Corrective Action process when:

  1. There is an identified release of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents, or
  2. When EPA is considering a treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) RCRA permit application.

An average cleanup could include the following:

  • Initial site assessment,
  • Site characterization,
  • Interim actions,
  • Evaluation of remedial alternatives, and
  • Implementation of the selected remedy.

An EPA study released at the end of September 2022 estimated the economic benefits of cleaning up facilities under the RCRA Corrective Action program. An analysis of 79 cleanups from 2020 to 2021 showed that these facilities support 1,028 onsite businesses. This supplies benefits such as:

  • About $39 billion in annual sales revenue,
  • Over 82,000 jobs, and
  • An estimated $7.9 billion in annual employment income.

Almost 25 percent of the facilities in the study are found within communities with possible environmental justice concerns. Not surprisingly, the Corrective Action program contributed to a $323 million increase in home values near the finished cleanups studied. Ultimately, EPA believes the benefits of these cleanups are much greater since there are almost 4,000 facilities being cleaned up in total.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Safety Topic Webcasts

If your employees deal with hazardous waste, they need to understand applicable requirements. To learn more about hazardous waste and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act watch our webcast EPA 101 for the Safety Professional - A 30,000-Foot View on November 10, 2022. Hazardous waste will be one of many environmental topics covered during this webcast. Log in or register for a free trial and save your seat today!

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