Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Compliance Monitoring
To protect human health and the environment, EPA works with its federal, state, and tribal regulatory partners to assure compliance with statutes and regulations in the management of hazardous wastes and underground storage tanks. Most of the compliance monitoring responsibility under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is delegated to the states and local authorities. EPA provides oversight of compliance monitoring activities in the RCRA program to ensure facilities are properly inspected. Currently, all states and territories have been granted authority to implement the base or implement additional parts of the RCRA program with the exception of Alaska and Iowa.
For a detailed overview of the RCRA compliance program:
RCRA encompasses several different program areas to assure compliance with statutes and regulations in the management of hazardous wastes and underground storage tanks. They include:
- Hazardous Waste
EPA and its regulatory partners inspect facilities that generate, transport, treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste to verify compliance with applicable regulations.
EPA and states’ main focus areas of compliance are:
- Identification of hazardous waste
- Hazardous waste generators
- Hazardous waste transporters
- Owners and operators of hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal
- See Hazardous Wastes
- Used Oil
Petroleum or synthetic oil becomes used oil if contaminated with physical (e.g., metal particles) or chemical (e.g., additives) impurities during use. Used oil is regulated as hazardous waste when it is contaminated following use. EPA and its regulatory partners conduct inspections of recycled used oil facilities to assure compliance with applicable regulations. Compliance monitoring involves reviewing a facility’s compliance with:
- storage requirements
- transportation requirements
- burning requirements
- processing requirements
- re-refining of the used oil requirements
For parties that merely generate used oil, the regulations establish storage standards.
For a party considered a used oil processor, re-refiner, burner, or marketer (one who generates and sells off-specification used oil directly to a used oil burner), additional tracking and paperwork requirements must be satisfied.
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities Standards for the management of used oil, 40 CFR Part 279 State authorized programs or EPA direct implementation
- Universal Wastes
Universal wastes cover a variety of wastes including batteries, pesticides, lamp bulbs, and mercury-containing equipment such as light switches. Compliance monitoring involves reviewing a facility’s compliance with:
- storage requirements
- transportation requirements
- marking requirements
- processing requirements
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities Standards for universal waste management, 40 CFR Part 273 State authorized programs or EPA direct implementation
- See Universal Wastes
- Mixed Wastes
Mixed waste contains both radioactive and hazardous waste components. EPA's regulations provide flexibility to generators and facilities that manage low-level mixed waste (LLMW) and technologically-enhanced, naturally-occurring, and/or accelerator-produced radioactive material (NARM) containing hazardous waste. LLMW is exempt from some RCRA storage and treatment regulations, and LLMW or eligible NARM from RCRA hazardous waste transportation and disposal regulations. These wastes are exempt from RCRA Subtitle C requirements, including permitting, provided they meet specific conditions. The exempt wastes must then be managed as radioactive waste in accordance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations or Nuclear Regulatory Commission Agreement State Regulations.
Compliance monitoring involves reviewing a facility’s compliance with the regulations that apply to generators, transporters, and owners and operators of hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities to the extent the mixed waste is not exempt from those regulations.
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities Standards for the management of specific hazardous wastes and specific types of hazardous waste management facilities, 40 CFR Part 266 EPA and Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Land Disposal
Disposal is the placement of waste into or on the land. Disposal facilities are usually designed to permanently contain the waste and prevent the release of harmful pollutants to the environment. The most common hazardous waste disposal practice is placement in a land disposal unit such as a landfill, surface impoundment, waste pile, or land treatment unit. Compliance monitoring involves reviewing a facility’s compliance with:
- waste treatment standards
- disposal prohibitions
- dilution prohibitions
- storage prohibitions
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities Land disposal restrictions, 40 CFR Part 268 State authorized programs or EPA direct implementation
See Land Disposal
- Hazardous Waste Injection
Injection wells have a range of activities including long term storage, enhancing oil production, mining, and waste disposal which can pollute ground water. Class I wells inject hazardous and non-hazardous wastes into deep, isolated rock formations that are thousands of feet below the lowermost underground sources of drinking water (USDW). Hazardous waste disposal wells are stringently regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and RCRA. Most Class I hazardous wells are located at industrial facilities. Only a few Class I wells are at commercial operations that can accept hazardous waste generated offsite.
Compliance monitoring under RCRA involves reviewing a facility’s compliance with the regulations that apply to treatment, storage and disposal facilities.
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities Underground injection, 40 CFR Part 265, Subpart R; Miscellaneous units, 40 CFR Part 264, Subpart X State authorized programs or EPA direct implementation
- Hazardous Wastes Imports/Exports
The Hazardous Waste Imports/Exports program requires prior notification of shipment of wastes, collects export manifests documenting individual shipments of waste, and receives export annual reports from the regulated community. The program also assists in developing and handling international and border aspects of civil RCRA enforcement matters.
Compliance monitoring involves reviewing a facility’s compliance with the requirements applicable to transporters, such as:
- an EPA identification number
- transfer facility requirements
- manifesting and record keeping
- actions to be taken in the event of hazardous waste discharges or spills
- The Border Center web page on hazardous waste Exit
- Criteria and Process for Denial of Requests to Import Waste to a U.S. Facility
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities Standards applicable to transporters of hazardous waste, 40 CFR Part 263 EPA
- Permitting Program
Permits are required for generators and transportation, storage and disposal facilities. Compliance monitoring involves reviewing a facility’s compliance with the requirements of its permit and with the regulations applicable to the facility type.
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities EPA administered permit programs: the hazardous waste permit program, 40 CFR Parts 270 State authorized programs or EPA direct implementation
- Underground Storage Tanks
EPA and its regulatory partners conduct inspections of underground storage tanks (USTs) to assure compliance with technical standards and corrective actions when a release has occurred. Compliance monitoring involves reviewing a UST’s:
- compliance with general requirements
- spill and overfill protection
- release detection system
- corrosion protection system
- reporting and record keeping
- tank closure system
Relevant Rules Monitoring Responsibilities Technical standards and corrective action requirements for owners and operators of underground Storage Tanks (USTs), 40 CFR Part 280; Approval of state underground storage tank program, 40 CFR Part 281 State authorized programs or EPA direct implementation
- Solid Waste
The solid waste program, under RCRA Subtitle D, encourages states to develop comprehensive plans to
- manage nonhazardous industrial solid waste and municipal solid waste,
- set criteria for municipal solid waste landfills and other solid waste disposal facilities, and
- prohibit the open dumping of solid waste.