A facility’s Environmental Manager is tasked with ensuring compliance with the ever-changing rules and restrictions of today’s environmental policies. If this is a new role it is easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin. The following are typically regulated environmental policies and some of the common violations found in these areas.
Clean Air Act
Through the enforcement of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeks to protect and enhance the quality of the nation’s air to promote public health and the environment. Common violations under the CAA include:
- installing/operating equipment without permits.
- not keeping records required by permits.
- discharging air contaminants (pollutants) in excess of permit limits.
- not maintaining pollution control equipment.
Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the primary federal statute regulating the protection of the nation's waters. Common violations under the CWA include:
- no or inadequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).
- failure to obtain a permit for applicable discharges.
- failure to know about local treatment plant sewer use regulations and possible prohibited discharges for indirect dischargers.
- no or inadequate secondary containment of storage tanks.
- improper disposal down floor drains.
- failure to have Spill Prevention Control Countermeasure (SPCC) in place.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
The regulation of land-based waste management activity is achieved primarily through the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Common violations under RCRA include:
- not evaluating wastes to find out if they are hazardous.
- containers of hazardous waste open or in poor condition.
- failure to test and maintain emergency equipment as necessary
- not labeling used oil containers and fill pipes.
- failure to inspect hazardous waste container storage areas at least weekly.
- failure to comply with hazardous waste generator regulations and lack of documentation.
- improper or lack of hazardous waste labeling.
- failure to have waste batteries/fluorescent lamps properly containerized.
- no or inadequate hazardous waste manifests.
- lack of or inadequate training of employees.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
This law was enacted to address the problems of hazardous waste found at inactive or abandoned sites or those resulting from spills requiring emergency response. CERCLA was amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorizations Act (SARA) of 1986 with the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA) enacted as Title III. Common violations include:
- chemicals are stored onsite above threshold.
- no or inadequate Tier II reporting forms.
- no or inadequate Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting forms (Form R).
- failure to notify of a released substance.
Knowing what to expect, should assist determining the current compliance status with any applicable environmental policy. This is generally accomplished by conducting a baseline compliance audit. The audit involves evaluating the various applicable environmental regulations (CAA, CWA, RCRA, SARA, CERCLA and EPCRA) previously mentioned. The goal of the audit is to evaluate compliance and deficiencies with respect to permitting, reporting, monitoring, recordkeeping and limitations applicable to the various programs. The audit should be a comprehensive inspection of the facility’s operations and a review of the facility’s operational and environmental records. Lastly, the audit should recommend programs and procedures necessary to address the deficiencies.
- Article by Bennett Thayer.
View other articles in the July newsletter.