Region 10 RCRA Compliance and Enforcement Homepage | Region 10 | US EPA

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Region 10 RCRA Compliance and Enforcement Homepage


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OVERVIEW OF THE RCRA ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM

The goals of the RCRA Enforcement Program are to ensure that RCRA rules and regulations are met, and to take necessary action to correct violations. The EPA and the authorized states achieve these goals by closely monitoring hazardous waste handler activities, taking legal action when handler is in noncompliance, and providing compliance incentives and assistance.

There are three main elements to RCRA’s enforcement program are compliance monitoring, enforcement actions, and compliance assistance and incentives.

Compliance Monitoring is used to verify a handler complying with RCRA regulatory requirements. Monitoring allows EPA and the authorized states to assess the effectiveness of specific legal actions that may have been taken against a handler, and enabling EPA to gather data in support of a future rulemaking. The overall compliance monitoring program allows EPA to evaluate the effectiveness of state programs (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State Programs) and to monitor nationwide compliance with RCRA. The primary method of gathering compliance monitoring data is through an inspection.

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Either EPA or an authorized state may lead inspections. The inspections must be conducted annually at all federal or state operated facilities and at least once every two years at each TSDF. The six types of inspections conducted under the RCRA program are:
  • Compliance Evaluation Inspection, routine inspections (includes a file review prior to the site visit; onsite examination of generation, treatment, storage, or disposal areas; review of records; and an evaluation of the facility’s compliance with RCRA) to evaluate compliance with RCRA.
  • Case Development Inspection, an inspection to gather data to support an enforcement action when significant RCRA violations are known, suspected, or revealed.
  • Comprehensive Ground Water Monitoring Evaluation, an inspection to ensure that ground water monitoring systems are designed and functioning properly at RCRA land disposal facilities.
  • Compliance Sampling Inspection, inspections to collect samples for laboratory analysis.
  • Operations and Maintenance Inspection, inspections to ensure that ground water monitoring and other systems at closed land disposal facilities continue to function properly.
  • Laboratory Audit, inspections of laboratories performing ground water monitoring analysis to ensure that these laboratories are using proper sample handling and analysis protocols.
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Enforcement Actions bring handlers into compliance when compliance monitoring detects a violation. The enforcement options available under RCRA are Administrative Actions, Civil Action, and Criminal Action.

Administrative Action is an enforcement action taken by EPA or an authorized state without involving a court process. Administrative actions tend to be resolved quickly and can be effective in forcing a handler to comply with regulations or to remedy a potential threat to human health or the environment. There are two types of administrative actions:

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Civil Action also known as a judicial action is a formal lawsuit filed in court against a person or facility who has either failed to comply with a statutory or regulatory requirement or administrative order, or against a person or facility who has contributed to the release of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents. There are four types of civil actions.
  1. Compliance Action, under Section 3008(a), the federal government can file suit to force a person to comply with any applicable RCRA regulations. This action allows the court to impose a penalty of up to $27,500 per day per violation for noncompliance.
  2. Corrective Action, under Section 3008(h), the federal government can sue to require the facility to correct the problem and take any necessary response measures. This action allows the court to suspend or revoke a facility’s interim status as a part of its order.
  3. Monitoring and Analysis, under Section 3013, the federal government can sue the person to require compliance with the order for his/her failure to comply with the monitoring and analysis order. This action allows the court to impose a penalty of up to $5,500 per day of noncompliance with the order.
  4. Imminent and Substantial Endangerment, under Section 7003, the federal government can sue the person to require action to remove the hazard or remedy any problem that has contributed or is contributing to an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment. This action allows the court to impose a penalty of up to $5,500 per day of noncompliance with the order.
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Criminal Action is issued based on the severity of the violation and it is reserved for the most serious violations. Seven criminal acts have been identified in Section 3008 and these are subject to criminal action and carry penalties.
Six of the seven criminal acts impose a penalty of up to $50,000 per day and up to five years in jail. The six criminal acts are:
The seventh criminal act imposes a penalty of up to $250,000 or 15 years in prison for an individual, or a $1 million fine for a corporation. This act is:
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The EPA uses the guidelines in the Civil Penalty Policy for assessing penalty amounts and uses the Interim Revised Supplemental Environmental Projects Policy to allow for flexibility in assessing penalties.

The Federal Facility Compliance Act of 1992 has allowed EPA to issue administrative enforcement orders against a federal agency in the same manner taken against a person or facility. The EPA issued administrative order becomes final only when the federal agency has had the opportunity to confer with the EPA Administrator.

To achieve greater compliance, EPA also offers compliance assistance through numerous policies, including the Final Policy on Compliance Incentives for Small Businesses and Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations.

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URL: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/OWCM.NSF/enforce/RCRA+Compliance+home

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