What should I Expect when EPA Inspects my Livestock Operation?
|Purpose of the inspection||Record and Document Review|
|The Inspector||Facility Tour|
|The Inspection||Exit Interview|
|Entry Interview||After the Inspection|
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspects animal feeding operations to evaluate their compliance with federal environmental laws. Poorly managed facilities have the potential to pollute the nation's rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater. The pollution can come from any number of sources including direct runoff from the feeding operations, overflows or seepage from waste retention structures or from over application or improper applications of liquid wastes or manure to fields and crop land. Your state environmental agency may also inspect your facility for compliance with state regulations as well as federal requirements. This fact sheet explains what you can expect during an EPA inspection. It tells you what a typical inspector will be looking for and what may happen afterwards. Not all inspections are the same. Yours will depend on what kind of operation you have and on EPA's reason for doing the inspection.
EPA inspections at animal feeding operations are typically Compliance Evaluation Inspections, where the facility is being inspected primarily to determine if it is complying with the requirements of the Clean Water Act. A second purpose of the inspection is to evaluate whether requirements of any other federal environmental laws are applicable to the facility, and if so, whether the facility is in compliance with such requirements.
Facilities are selected for inspection in two ways. Some facilities are selected for inspection based on "probable cause", which means that EPA has obtained some specific evidence of a possible existing violation at a facility. EPA conducts such inspections in response to citizen complaints about a specific facility, emergency situations such as reports of ongoing spills, information about specific water quality problems or fish kills, or as a follow-up to prior inspections indicating violations at the same facility or at other facilities owned or operated by the same person.
The second way in which facilities are selected is through a "neutral inspection scheme." Some inspections will be conducted at facilities where EPA does not have any prior information indicating that there are existing violations. These are routine inspections to evaluate compliance. This does not mean that the selection of facilities is entirely random, but rather that facilities are selected based on criteria that allows EPA to evaluate compliance across the industry without bias entering into selection of facilities. The facilities are selected based on "neutral" specific criteria such as geographical location, size, and type of operation.
Some inspections will be of permitted facilities, to evaluate the facility's compliance with terms of its permit. Other inspections will be at non-permitted animal feeding operations, to determine if the facility meets the basic definition of a CAFO, if the facility has or is likely to cause water pollution, and if the facility should have an NPDES permit.
The person who inspects your facility will work for EPA or perhaps for one of EPA's contractors. In either case, he/she will show you credentials as a form of identification. The inspector is not permitted to release their credentials or allow you to make a photocopy of them. You may ask the inspector for an EPA number to call to confirm that the visit is authorized.
The inspector will be knowledgeable about the CAFO regulations and the requirements of your permit but may nor may not have specific education and work experience in your type of animal agriculture operation.
Because of the unique nature of CAFOs, some additional areas need to be evaluated. To help ensure that the inspections are complete and that they are consistent, the inspector will use a CAFO INSPECTION FORM while conducting the inspection. This form is attached. The inspection will require your time and participation. However, the inspector will make every effort to conduct the inspection in a way which will have the least disruptive effect on your operation. EPA will respect established and documented bio-security procedures of the facility.
The typical sequence of events that will occur during the inspection are an Entry Interview, a Record and Document Review, a Facility Tour, and an Exit Interview.
The purpose of the entry interview is for the inspector to present you with his credentials authorizing the inspection, seek your consent to come onsite for the inspection, inform you of the scope and purpose of the inspection, provide you with a copy of the federal regulations concerning false and misleading statements, and ascertain basic information about the facility. Expect the inspector to be cordial and polite but remain professional. Information and documents
which the inspector may ask for include:
Since the operation of a CAFO usually involves many environmental issues beyond animal waste control, the inspector will also conduct a "multi-media screening" evaluation. This is included in the CAFO inspection form. This may include questions about your management and control of wastes from maintenance facilities, releases of chemicals to the environment, bulk fuel storage, pesticide usage and possibly other issues.
Your permit may require you to keep certain records or to have prepared specific management plans. The inspector will generally ask to see these records to verify that you are complying with the terms and conditions of your permit. The inspector may ask to see all records or may just ask for a random sample to evaluate. Typical records which you may be asked to produce include:
Other documents that you may be asked to produce may include:
After reviewing the records and documents, the inspector will ask you, or your representative, to accompany him or her on a tour of facility. The purpose of the tour is to assess existing conditions and confirm that the facility conforms to the description in the permit. During this phase of the inspection the inspector may want to observe the following portions of your facility to assess their structural integrity, maintenance condition and availability:
In order to document findings of the inspection, the inspector may photograph or video aspects of your operation. If your facility is discharging during the course of the inspection or if there is evidence that the facility had recently discharged he or she may also take samples.
During the course of the facility tour, the inspector may determine that he or she needs to see additional records or documents. The inspector will inform you of these needs as soon as possible to facilitate your retrieving the needed information.
Following the facility tour, the inspector will conduct a debriefing or exit interview with you. This phase of the inspection is to allow both parties to follow up on the inspection or to clarify issues which arose during the inspection. If the inspector obtained any records or documents from you during the inspection, he or she will prepare a Receipt for Documents and Samples. You will receive a copy of the receipt. The inspector will also give you the opportunity to claim that some or all of the information you have provided is confidential business information (CBI).
To the extent possible the inspector will relay to you the basic findings of the inspection. If the inspector needs additional information from you or some other source to complete his or her evaluation, they may not be able to provide you with a final list of their findings.
The inspector does not make the determinations of compliance or non-compliance of your facility with the regulations. That determination is made by other EPA enforcement personnel, as described below.
Once the inspector has reviewed all the information that they obtained during the inspection, he or she will prepare an inspection report. In some cases the inspector may contact you if he or she finds that they need additional information or clarification on some issue. The inspector will forward the inspection report to a Compliance Officer in the Region 7 Water, Wetlands, and Pesticides Division, and to an attorney in the Region 7 Office of Regional Counsel. Those offices will review the inspection report and evaluate whether your facility is in non-compliance and what type of follow-up action by EPA, if any, is appropriate. You will receive a copy of the inspection report, and the state environmental agency will be sent a copy of the report. EPA responds to non-compliance in a number of different ways, depending on the nature and circumstances of the violation:
If you have any questions following the inspection, EPA encourages you to contact the Agency. The inspector can leave a contact name and phone number with you when he or she departs.