Helping You Understand RCRA Compliance And RCRA Closure
Businesses handling hazardous wastes as a normal part of their operations must ensure that they observe safe handling and storage (sometimes called “housekeeping”) practices fully described in federal and state RCRA regulations, and appropriate transportation and disposal procedures, to minimize the potential for a release of hazardous wastes into the environment. The more densely populated the area, the more significant deviations from approved practices become.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has historically been, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) continues to be, particularly vigilant in making unannounced inspections of facilities that have previously either obtained permits under RCRA or have even occasionally, if not regularly, disposed of hazardous waste properly as a result of their operations, as well as of facilities with past violations. Because unannounced (and warrantless) facility inspections are legal, so long as the government’s purpose is not to uncover criminal violations, they can present challenges for businesses of all sizes.
Penalties For Noncompliance
Many businesses erroneously think the term “housekeeping practices” means these are not substantive requirements, or they draw that conclusion because no actual release into the environment has occurred. The fines proposed by the agencies, however, often after agonizing months following the initial inspection, are enormous and potentially crippling, demonstrating that the violations are not trivial.
While the imposition of a “notice of violation” or “inspection report” by either the USEPA or the NYSDEC technically shifts the matter into the sphere of enforcement (as opposed to compliance), our experience is that vigorous immediate compliance efforts to correct even the partial accounting of the alleged violations during the inspection itself — more will be found upon review by the inspector back in the office — yields enormous dividends of goodwill with the agencies. Treating the matter as one of compliance by rectifying the noncompliance, and performing our own facility inspection with an experienced environmental consultant, can further engender goodwill and reduce the fines for the agency-discovered violations. The attorneys at Periconi, LLC, pride themselves on their success in reducing monetary penalties and reducing the likelihood of future inspections.
Contact the attorneys at Periconi, LLC, for a consultation if your business is facing potential RCRA compliance issues.
What Is “RCRA Closure?”
We have assisted numerous businesses to comply with RCRA closure requirements in areas within and outside New York. One such business is a multinational aviation company, for which Periconi, LLC, successfully obtained RCRA closure for facilities in three separate states, each with somewhat different state versions of the federal regulations.
RCRA closure requirements under federal law, with their state counterparts, are meant to ensure that when a business ceases operations, it removes any trace of hazardous wastes that were once part of the facility’s operations from any fixtures (including vats and tanks), but also the ground, soil and groundwater. Oversight is particularly intense because this is the last time the government will get to ensure — before the business disappears — that it has not left behind environmental contamination. Requirements go well beyond quick removal of obvious wastes. Cleaning and decontamination of all equipment before it is dismantled, as well as what lies underneath that equipment, often hidden from view during years of operation, must be thorough. In most cases, the company has previously met financial assurance requirements and must obtain a release from the state or USEPA from those requirements.
The attorneys of Periconi, LLC, have successfully and repeatedly worked with a major national environmental consulting company to help business clients across the country achieve efficient and relatively stress-free RCRA closure to the satisfaction of a number of state agencies.