Waste, Chemical, and Cleanup Enforcement
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EPA enforces a variety of environmental requirements related to pollution by waste and chemicals. For more on EPA's enforcement process, go to Basics on enforcement.
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Mining and mineral processing. EPA is taking action to protect communities and the environment from illegal or high risk hazardous waste operations at phosphoric acid and other high risk mineral processing facilities. Reducing pollution from mining and mineral processing operations is one of EPA's national initiatives.
Hazardous wastes. EPA enforces requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regarding the safe handling, treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes. EPA and the states verify RCRA compliance with these requirements through a comprehensive compliance monitoring program which includes inspecting facilities, reviewing records and taking enforcement action where necessary. The RCRA compliance assistance program provides businesses, federal facilities, local governments and tribes with tools to help meet environmental regulatory requirements.
Underground Storage Tanks. EPA enforces requirements under Subtitle I of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These requirements focus on preventing, detecting, and cleaning up releases. These provisions are enforced by EPA and by states that are authorized to operate their own program in lieu of the federal program.
Lead-based paint. EPA enforces requirements under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. Contractors and construction professionals who work in pre-1978 housing or child-occupied facilities must follow lead-safe work practice standards to reduce lead exposure. This includes providing owners, tenants, and child care facilities with lead-based paint information; and notifying them about the presence of lead. Owners and landlords of pre-1978 residential housing must give tenants a lead-based paint warning pamphlet and notify the tenants of known lead-based paint in the housing. Sellers are subject to similar requirements. Learn more about lead. Learn more about enforcing lead laws and regulations.
Asbestos. EPA enforces regulations under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) on how to respond to asbestos in schools. EPA also enforces worker protection standards for certain state and local government employees who are not protected by the asbestos standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Accidental Releases. EPA enforces requirements under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act to prevent chemical accidents and releases. Owners and operators of sources producing, processing and storing extremely hazardous substances must identify hazards associated with an accidental release, design and maintain a safe facility, prepare a Risk Management Plan (RMP) and minimize consequences of accidental releases that occur. EPA conducts inspections and and reviews facility RMPs to verify compliance and ensure the quality of the overall preparedness, prevention and response.
Pesticides. EPA enforces requirements under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that govern the distribution, sale and use of pesticides. EPA takes enforcement actions to address the distribution or sale of unregistered pesticides, registered pesticides whose composition differs from that submitted at registration, and registered pesticides that are misbranded or adulterated. EPA may also stop the sale or seize pesticide products which do not meet FIFRA requirements. One focus of EPA's FIFRA enforcement program is to ensure pesticides entering the United States meet FIFRA requirements. To learn more about the imports enforcement program, see recent import enforcement activities.
EPA and the states verify FIFRA compliance through a comprehensive FIFRA compliance monitoring program which includes inspecting facilities, reviewing records and taking enforcement action where necessary. The FIFRA compliance assistance program provides businesses, federal facilities, local governments and tribes with tools to help meet environmental regulatory requirements.
Toxic Chemicals. EPA enforces requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) which regulates the introduction of new or already existing chemicals. TSCA requirements for chemical manufacturers or importers include reporting, record-keeping and testing of the chemical substances.
EPA and the states verify TSCA compliance through a comprehensive TSCA compliance monitoring program which includes inspecting facilities, reviewing records and taking enforcement action where necessary. The TSCA compliance assistance program provides businesses, federal facilities, local governments and tribes with tools to help meet environmental regulatory requirements.
PCBs. EPA enforces regulations under TSCA. TSCA prohibits the manufacture of polychlorinated biphenyls (commonly known as PCBs), controls the phase-out of their existing uses, and sees to their safe disposal.
Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know (EPCRA). EPA enforces requirements under EPCRA to ensure that facilities are prepared for chemical emergencies and report any releases of hazardous and toxic chemicals. EPCRA requires that citizens be informed of toxic chemical releases in their area. Industrial facilities must annually report releases and transfers of certain toxic chemicals. This information is publicly available in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database.
EPA and the states verify EPCRA compliance through a comprehensive EPCRA compliance monitoring program which includes inspecting facilities, reviewing records and taking enforcement action where necessary. The EPCRA compliance assistance program provides businesses, federal facilities, local governments and tribes with tools to help meet environmental regulatory requirements.
EPA's cleanup enforcement program protects human health and the environment by getting those responsible for contamination to either clean up or reimburse EPA for its cleanup. EPA uses several cleanup authorities independently and in combination to address specific cleanup situations.
- Superfund enforcement: Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly referred to as Superfund): EPA finds the companies or people responsible for contamination at a site and negotiates with or orders them to clean up the site or to pay for EPA or another party to do the cleanup work.
- Addressing liability concerns to support cleanup and reuse of contaminated lands: The reuse of previously contaminated property is an important goal of EPA's cleanup and enforcement programs. The cleanup enforcement program encourages the cleanup and revitalization of contaminated properties by addressing Superfund liability concerns and implementing the landowner liability protections.
- Corrective Action: When solid or hazardous waste is not properly managed and contamination results at facilities regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), EPA and the states require the owners and operators to perform the cleanup.
- Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: RCRA provides EPA with several enforcement authorities to ensure that releases from leaking underground storage tanks (USTs) are cleaned up and owners/operators comply with other RCRA requirements.