The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulations in place that affect local, state and federal governments and their respective agencies. In addition, the EPA has regulations for almost every industry imaginable.
With so many regulations it is almost impossible to keep track of them all. The guidance for EPA enforcement comes from the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA), which allows the EPA to monitor all aspects of hazardous waste management.
State Records of Common EPA Violations
The RCRA includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. The following are the most common violations of the RCRA as recorded by several states that most frequently result in fines or greater penalties.
Most violations relate to issues culled from state records. The EPA doesn’t keep a national list of the most common violations, so state records are generally used as an indicator of typical mistakes made by companies during hazardous waste disposal.
The Top Common Violations
Punishment for EPA violations can be an order for corrective action, fines that can be hefty, and, in extreme cases, jail time. There is no formal EPA violations list, but the following covers violations seen most frequently.
- Dumping Hazardous Waste Down the Drain
Dumping hazardous waste down the drain or into the local sewer system can result in hefty penalties. This is an important violation as hazardous waste disposed of this way often finds its way into streams, rivers, lakes, or the ocean.
Prohibited items for the drain:
- Controlled Substances
- Radioactive Waste
- Hazardous Chemical Waste
- Sludge, Solids or Viscous Substances
- Corrosive Waste
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Regulated Medical Waste
- Photo Processing Chemicals
- X-ray Processing Chemicals
Polluting waterways and aquifers contaminates drinking water and makes pristine waters unable to sustain life.
- Improper Waste Labeling
Lack of or improper labeling of hazardous waste. This violation stems from many of those considered waste generators failure to properly label onsite containers or tanks.
Often this is an unintentional error traced to employees who are very busy and overlook the labeling requirements. To combat this, companies should assign one person who places labels on containers before containers receive any waste. To help this individual perform this task, management should make sure to have adequate labeling supplies on hand.
- Inadequate Employee Training
Inadequate training or no training at all for employees is another commonly occurring problem. It’s so important because the safety of employees is at stake, and hazardous waste creates many health risks.
Long-term exposure to some hazardous waste can cause death caused by asbestos, for example. The labels and firmly sealed containers are there for a reason.
- Open Container Violations
Open containers of hazardous waste are another common violation. The EPA mandates that all hazardous waste containers be closed and latched when not in use except when opened to add or remove the hazardous waste.
These are just four of the top 20 violations that have been recorded as most frequent by several states. This list is not exhaustive and businesses that generate waste, especially hazardous waste, should turn to an experienced waste removal vendor to help them formulate an effective waste management program.
When hazardous waste is routinely generated and stored at your company, regardless of your generator status, it is crucial to work with a partner that is experienced, well-trained, and maintains top safety practices in removing hazardous waste products. This is where the team at HWH Environmental can make all the difference. Our responsive customer service team is here to help you answer any questions.