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Facilities and Enforcement Activities Related to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

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Overview of RCRA Subtitle C Compliance and Enforcement Program, Data Collection, and Information Sources

This page provides information about facilities regulated under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and corresponding information about EPA, state, and local inspections, violations identified, and enforcement.  RCRA Subtitle C applies to hazardous waste handlers.  The law is intended to ensure proper management and disposal of hazardous waste.  A significant component of the RCRA program is tracking, including hazardous waste manifests, facility record keeping, and biennial waste reports. EPA's hazardous waste web site offers more information.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, which amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act, was the first substantial effort by Congress to establish a regulatory structure for the management of solid and hazardous wastes. Subtitle C of RCRA addresses "cradle-to-grave" requirements for hazardous waste from the point of generation to disposal.  RCRA allows EPA to authorize states to implement RCRA Subtitle C, including the permitting, planning, administrative, and compliance and enforcement aspects of the RCRA program. EPA also maintains enforcement and compliance monitoring authorities and a program oversight role.

Authorized states report key information to EPA, including:

This information is stored in the national database RCRAInfo, which is searchable on EPA’s Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO) web site. Data entry and minimum reporting requirements for this system are summarized on ECHO.  The questions below provide information on how to use ECHO and other resources to search for RCRAInfo information, and how to use other information that EPA has compiled to review the performance of authorized state RCRA programs.

Finding RCRA Program Information and Compliance and Enforcement Data

  1. What are the types of hazardous waste handlers regulated by EPA and the states under the RCRA Subtitle C Program?  How many are there?
  2. What options are available for reviewing the amount of waste generated by RCRA-regulated facilities?
  3. How can I find specific information about RCRA waste generation, use, and disposal near where I live?
  4. Can I review RCRA compliance and enforcement information along with Toxics Release Inventory information?
  5. How can I find compliance and enforcement information about regulated hazardous waste handlers?
  6. Can I search for a company or particular handler to see if it has violations?
  7. Where can I find more information about specific enforcement cases taken by EPA under RCRA?
  8. How can I find the number of inspections, violations, and enforcement actions within a state?
  9. Where can I find information about specific state compliance and enforcement program performance?
  10. Where can I find information about compliance and enforcement activity in a state over time?
  11. How can I download summary information about federal and state compliance and enforcement activity?
  12. How can I find information about a specific compliance and enforcement activity across all states?

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1: What are the types of hazardous waste handlers regulated by EPA and the states under the RCRA Subtitle C Program?  How many are there?

RCRA Subtitle C handlers tracked for compliance and enforcement purposes are:

EPA has established minimum data requirements requiring authorized states, territories, District of Columbia, and EPA regional offices to track and report handler universes and activities on all facilities, regardless of size.  For more details on required data, see the summary of compliance and enforcement data entry requirements in ECHO. 

The RCRA Regulated Handler Counts by State (PDF) (2 pp, 84K) table provides a universe count for each state for most types of handlers. Nationally there are approximately 800 operating TSDFs.  The approximate universes of generators are: 23,000 LQGs, 151,000 SQGs, and 196,000 CESQGs.  Establishing a definitive regulated universe of facilities under the RCRA program is difficult and dependent on a number of factors (see further discussion in the annual reports posted under question 8).  Because the quality of the universe information varies, it is not appropriate to compare one state’s data with another without knowing the accuracy of the data and details of the compliance monitoring program in each state.  Although these numbers represent the active universe in the national database, the states may have more current information.  Links to state environmental agency web sites may be found in ECHO.

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2: What options are available for reviewing the amount of waste generated by RCRA-regulated facilities?

Two databases have chemical release and generation information reported by RCRA waste generators:

The Biennial Report information and the TRI information are reported in different formats and have somewhat different universes of facilities that report.  Release amounts can differ between the databases because TRI asks only for the “pollutant pounds” within a waste stream, whereas Biennial Report includes the full volume of a waste stream (for example, hazardous chemicals that are mixed with non-hazardous materials).  TRI data is integrated with compliance and enforcement data on the ECHO web site.

See Question 4 for other ways to access TRI data. Biennial Report data is not integrated with compliance data. See Question 3 for information about obtaining Biennial Report information. 

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3: How can I find specific information about RCRA waste generation, use, and disposal near where I live?

EPA, in partnership with the states, biennially collects information regarding the generation, management, and final disposition of hazardous wastes regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, as amended. The purpose of the 2007 National Biennial Report is to communicate the findings of EPA's 2007 hazardous waste reporting data collection efforts to the public, government agencies, and the regulated community. The 2007 National Biennial Report consists of three volumes of data:

For the 2007 National Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report, EPA has included all data that were identified by the state or implementing EPA office for inclusion in the report with the following two exceptions:

  1. Hazardous waste received from off site for storage/bulking and subsequently transferred off site for treatment or disposal is excluded from generation quantities; and
  2. Hazardous waste that is stored, bulked, and/or transferred off site with no prior treatment/recovery, fuel blending, or disposal at the site is excluded from management quantities.

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4: Can I review RCRA compliance and enforcement information along with Toxics Release Inventory information?

Yes, the ECHO web site allows searching for facilities with Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) information.  The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 and the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 require facilities in certain specified industry sectors to report data on chemical releases to the environment, waste treatment and recycling, and pollution prevention.  The data is collected by EPA's TRI program and made available to the public each year.  For users interested in the RCRA program, the TRI data related to “Releases to Land” may be of primary interest.

TRI data are collected directly from facilities based on their calculations and estimates.  These data do not necessarily reflect permit allowances or indicate noncompliance.  Additionally, TRI data reflect releases and other waste management quantities of chemicals, not exposures of the public to those chemicals.  TRI data alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or to calculate potential adverse effects on human health and the environment.  Also, note that TRI does not cover all toxic chemicals or industry sectors. The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and Factors to Consider When Using TRI Data (PDF) (29 pp, 195K) contains additional information on and assistance in using and interpreting TRI data.

ECHO includes the TRI data from the most recent reporting year. To search for facilities that report to TRI, go to the ECHO Hazardous Waste Search and use the TRI Chemical Releases section. After selecting desired geographic search criteria, select one of the options for different TRI On-site Land Releases amounts (e.g., greater than 1,000 lbs., greater than 10,000 lbs., etc.). 

TRI data also can be accessed through TRI.Net, TRI Explorer, and EnviroFacts (these searches are not linked to compliance data, but provide more search choices for users who are interested in release analysis).

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5: How can I find compliance and enforcement information about regulated hazardous waste handlers?

Information from RCRAInfo is provided monthly to the ECHO web site.  Using the ECHO Hazardous Waste Search users can search for

Search results can be mapped.

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6: Can I search for a company or particular handler to see if it has violations?

Yes, you can search for a company or particular handler to see if has violations. Follow this process:

Past violations can also be searched:

Remember that all options selected are “anded”, therefore all select criteria must be met for your data output.

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7: Where can I find more information about specific enforcement cases taken by EPA under RCRA?

Resources are listed below.

On the ECHO search, in order to limit your case search to cases related to RCRA, scroll to the “Case Attributes” section of the EPA Enforcement Cases Search, and select “RCRA – Resource Conservation & Recovery Act” from the “Primary Law” drop down menu.

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8: How can I find the number of inspections, violations and enforcement actions within a state?

Data by year can be downloaded below (please visit EPA's state data comments page to access information provided by states regarding data discrepancies). These same reports are posted on the ECHO web site under Additional Resources and Reports.

Note: These 2009 annual reports also are available in Excel format on the ECHO Annual Results search page.

To retrieve data about which individual facilities received inspections, had violations, or were subject to enforcement, please use EPA’s ECHO Hazardous Waste Search.

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9: Where can I find information about specific state compliance and enforcement program performance?

This information is available through the State Review Framework. The State Review Framework is a collaborative tool for EPA and states to use to assess a state’s performance in environmental enforcement and compliance assurance programs, and to ensure the implementation of actions to address identified issues. The State Review Framework assesses performance of basic enforcement activities across Clean Air Act stationary source programs, RCRA Subtitle C programs, and Clean Water Act direct discharge programs. The goal is continuous improvement in program performance.

During the conduct of the State Review Framework reviews, recommendations for improvement may have been included in the associated reports where deemed necessary.  These recommendations also are available to the public.

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10: Where can I find information about compliance and enforcement activity in a state over time?

You can use the State Review Framework RCRA State Trends Report to select a state and examine key program indicators that EPA uses in its evaluation of the state. This tool can also produce a graph showing trends for any selected indicator beginning in 2004.

To access details and definitions regarding the State Review Framework metrics, please go to the Data Downloads and Data Metrics Info section of the ECHO State Review Framework Summary page and click Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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11: How can I download summary information about federal and state compliance and enforcement activity?

EPA has compiled the following national files in three different formats for use. All three files contain the same information. This provides State Review Framework data for all states (please visit EPA's state data comments page to access information provided by states regarding data discrepancies). Please download the documentation from the State Review Framework Data Downloads and Data Metrics Info section of the ECHO State Review Framework Summary page for explanations of the data.

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12: How can I find information about a specific compliance and enforcement activity across all states?

That information is available as a part of the State Review Framework RCRA Multi-State Report (please visit EPA's state data comments page to access information provided by states regarding data discrepancies).


Note: A compilation of many links on this RCRA overview page may be found on the ECHO Hazardous Waste Data Searches page.
 

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DISCLAIMER

EPA is distributing this data to improve the transparency, utility and quality of the data and provide the public with tools and real-time access to better understand facility and state performance in these programs. EPA is not distributing this information to endorse, adopt, use or propose to use the information to support an Agency decision or position. The distribution of this material is therefore not a "dissemination" for purposes of EPA's Information Quality Guidelines.

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