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RCRA Corrective Action Enforcing Permits

EPA may take action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) corrective action enforcement authority when it discovers that

  1. A facility is in violation of the corrective action requirements in its RCRA permit or order;
  2. There has been a release at an interim status facility;
  3. The nature and extent of a problem or potential problem at a permitted or interim status facility needs to be evaluated; or
  4. An imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment may exist.

There are three statutory provisions in RCRA that give EPA or an authorized state the authority to address facility-wide corrective action in permits:

  • RCRA section 3004(u) requires corrective action for releases of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents from Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) identified in a facility permit. A SWMU can be a place or unit where solid or hazardous wastes are placed at any time, or where wastes have been routinely and systematically released.
  • RCRA section 3004(v) requires facility owners or operators to perform corrective action to address releases that have moved beyond a facility’s boundary.
  • RCRA section 3005(c)(3) allows EPA or an authorized state to include in a permit requirement to perform corrective action.

If a facility violates the conditions in its RCRA permit, EPA or an authorized state may take an enforcement action to bring the facility back into compliance with its permit and to collect penalties for noncompliance. EPA uses the authority in RCRA section 3008(a) to take such an enforcement action.

The corrective action requirements for a RCRA permit are found at 40 C.F.R. Part 264 Subpart F - Releases from Solid Waste Management Units. The regulations include the requirement to implement corrective action if certain limits are exceeded. Other RCRA regulations, e.g., the closure and post-closure regulations, which are incorporated into permits, may impact the Corrective Action program.

EPA's 1996 advance notice of proposed rulemaking for Corrective Action for Solid Waste Management Units at Hazardous Waste Management Facilities, which was later substantially withdrawn, is considered to be the primary guidance document for cleanup at permitted facilities.

Learn More: National Enforcement Strategy for RCRA Corrective Action

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