May 13, 2016
OIG Says EPA Has Fallen Short in Auditing TSD Facilities
Did you know that 80% of all U.S. citizens live within 3 miles of a RCRA hazardous waste generator or permitted treatment, storage, and/or disposal (TSD) facility? Therefore, compliance at these facilities is important to the health and safety of these surrounding communities. Compliance evaluation inspections (CEIs) are the primary mechanism that EPA and states use for monitoring facilities for compliance with RCRA Subtitle C requirements. CEIs are used to determine:
- Whether all waste streams have been identified.
- Whether a proper hazardous waste determination has been made for all waste streams.
- Whether all waste is being handled properly.
EPA has a statutory obligation to inspect federal, state, and local government-owned TSD facilities every year and privately owned TSD facilities every other year. [RCRA Section 3007(c–e)/42 USC 6297(c–e)] Completed CEIs for TSD facilities are recorded in RCRAInfo, an inventory system used by EPA and states to track information on waste handlers. RCRAInfo is available to the public through EPA’s Envirofacts website.
Using data found on Envirofacts, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a report concluding that EPA, with the help of authorized states, has conducted CEIs for only 85% of federal TSD facilities, 54% of state and local government-owned TSD facilities, and 94% of privately owned TSD facilities. Thus, current inspection frequencies are not meeting statutory benchmarks.
In response to the draft report, EPA did not concur with OIG’s conclusions and recommendation and cited budget constraints for not meeting inspection frequencies. Although the OIG report recommends corrective action to achieve the required frequencies, it is not clear whether EPA will have or allocate the necessary funds to implement those actions.
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This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.