The United States EPA enforces regulations intended to reduce pollution in the United States.
These regulations include the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which creates a framework for the proper management of solid waste, both hazardous and non-hazardous; oil spills prevention and preparedness regulations, including the Spill Prevention Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules and the Facility Response Plan (FRP) rule; and stormwater rules.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of those rules, provide some additional information, and make some online environmental training suggestions for you as well.
The EPA training and environmental training online course samples used to illustrate the EPA regulations all come from our Environment, Health, and Safety training library.
The EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
According to the EPA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) “is the public law that creates the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste.”
The term RCRA is used to refer to a couple of related things. First, the law created by the US Congress to set up a waste management program giving the EPA the authority to regulation RCRA. And in addition, RCRA is often used to refer to the actual EPA regulations, policy, and guidance about hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste management.
If you want to check these yourself, here’s:
Non-Hazardous Waste: Subtitle D
Subtitle D is concerned with non-hazardous waste and includes 40 CFR 239-259. In particular, those regulations include:
- Part 239-Requirements for State Permit Program Determination of Adequacy
- Part 240-Guidelines for the Thermal Processing of Solid Wastes
- Part 243-Guidelines for the Storage and Collection of Residential, Commercial, and Institutional Solid Wastes
- Part 246-Source Separation for Materials Recovery Guidelines
- Part 247-Comprehensive Procurement Guideline for Products Containing Recovered Materials
- Part 254-Prior Notice of Citizen Suits
- Part 255-Identification of Regions and Agencies for Solid Waste Management
- Part 256-Guidelines for Development and Implementation of State Solid Waste Management Plans
- Part 257-Criteria for Classification of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and Practices
- Part 258-Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills
- Part 259-Reserved
Hazardous Waste: Subtitle C
Subtitle C is focused on hazardous wastes and includes 40 CFR parts 260-273. In particular, those regulations include:
- Part 260-Hazardous Waste Management System: General
- Part 261-Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste
- Part 262-Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste
- Part 263-Standards Applicable to Transporters of Hazardous Waste
- Part 264-Standards for Owners and Operators of Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities
- Part 265-Interim Status Standards for Owners and Operators of Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities
- Part 266-Standards for the Management of Specific Hazardous Wastes and Specific Types of Hazardous Waste Management Facilities
- Part 267-Standards for Owners and Operators of Hazardous Waste Facilities Operating Under a Standardized Permit
- Part 268-Land Disposal Restrictions
- Part 270-EPA Administered Permit Programs: The Hazardous Waste Permit Program
- Part 271-Requirements for Authorization of State Hazardous Waste Programs
- Part 272-Approved State Hazardous Waste Management Programs
- Part 273-Standards for Universal Waste Management
As noted above, Part 273 covers standards for universal waste management.
The regs in part 273 apply to four types of universal waste:
- Mercury-containing equipment
- Mercury lamps
Underground Storage Tanks
Regulations for underground storage regulations include 40 CFR parts 280 and 281. In particular, these regulations include:
- Part 280-Technical Standards and Corrective Action Requirements for Owners and Operators of Underground Storage Tanks
- Part 281-Approval of State Underground Storage Tank Programs
Helpful EPA Documents on Solid Waste Management
The EPA provides a series of guidances for complying with Hazardous Waste Generator regulations by industry. You can find the EPA/RCRA Hazardous Waste Generator Guidance by Industry here.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Orientation Manual, according to the EPA, “provides introductory information on the solid and hazardous waste management programs under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Designed for EPA and state staff, members of the regulated community, and the general public who wish to better understand RCRA, this document constitutes a review of the RCRA program and is not a substitute for RCRA or its implementing regulations.” You can read the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Orientation Manual here.
The EPA also offers helpful resources on Sustainable Materials Management here.
Online Environmental Training: RCRA Online Training Courses
You may find the following online training courses helpful at your workplace:
This course explains the purpose of the Resource Conservation and Recover Act (RCRA), explains how to identify hazardous waste, will help you understand listed and characteristic hazardous wastes, and describes the four hazardous characteristics.
This course teaches you to differentiate between the different classifications of hazardous waste generators; to describe the regulations for hazardous waste accumulation; to describe the requirements for tanks and containers used for storing hazardous waste; to explain air emission standards; and to define volatile organic compounds.
In this course, you’ll learn to describe the pre-transport requirements for hazardous waste generators; to explain how to mark and label hazardous waste containers; to describe the purpose and information included on a hazardous waste manifest; to identify and describe manifest discrepancies; to describe the goals of the land disposal restriction (LDR) and the LDR prohibitions; and to describe LDR treatment standards.
In this course, you’ll learn to identify special wastes; explain why some wastes are exempt from regulation; describe special waste recycling standards; identify the four categories of universal waste; describe universal waste requirements; define used oil; describe used oil requirements; describe the properties of asbestos and the requirements for asbestos disposal; and describe how PCBs and their disposal regulations.
This course will teach you to list the requirements of the emergency preparedness and prevention standards; to describe a contingency plan; to describe the responsibilities of the emergency coordinator; to identify the items that should be included in a written inspection schedule; to list the areas and equipment that must be inspected, and identify the required inspection frequency; to list the items that should be on a typical inspection; and to list the information required to document personnel training.
This course will teach you to list the four categories of universal waste; to describe universal waste requirements; to describe appropriate storage and handling procedures for each type of universal waste; to describe the hazards of universal wastes; and to list the materials required and steps taken to cleanup mercury and pesticide spills.
The EPA’s Oil Spills Prevention and Preparedness Regulations (SPCC & FRP)
The EPA’s oil spill prevention programs includes both the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules and the Facility Response Plan (FRP) rules, as explained below.
Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rules
According to the EPA, “The SPCC rule helps facilities prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.”
The SPCC rule can be found at 40 CFR 112.
The EPA provides a helpful guide to help you determine if the SPCC Rule applies to your facility here.
If your facility has smaller oil storage capacity and has not had oil spills in the past, you may meet the criteria as a “qualified facility.” The owner of a “qualified facility” can prepare and self-certify an SPCC plan instead of having a Professional Engineer review and certify the plan. Learn more about qualified facilities here.
Farms may also have to comply with the SPCC rule. Read more about spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) for agriculture here.
Facility Response Plans (FRP) Rules
According to the EPA, “The FRP rule requires certain facilities to submit a response plan and prepare to respond to a worst case oil discharge or threat of a discharge.”
As the EPA puts it, “Facilities that could reasonably be expected to cause “substantial harm” to the environment by discharging oil into or on navigable waters are required to prepare and submit Facility Response Plans (FRPs). Facilities that could cause “significant and substantial harm” are required to have their plans approved by an EPA Regional Administrator (RA). Click to learn what substantial harm and significant and substantial harm mean in this context.
Online Environmental Training: SPCC Online Training Courses
You may find the following online environmental training courses related to the (SPCC) regulations helpful at your worksite.
This course will explain to you what the EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule is and why it was created; the key elements of an SPCC plan; common storage and handling types; the role of the Facility Response Coordinator (FRC); safe operating procedures; and control measures and countermeasures used to protect against and clean up after oil spills.
This course will teach you to define the terms “primary containment,” “secondary containment,” “sufficiently impervious,” “vaulted tank,” “run-on,” and “sufficient freeboard”; describe how active and passive containment measures differ; calculate the required capacity for a secondary containment structure responsible for two fuel tanks; list the alternative measures that are required when secondary containment has been deemed “impracticable”; list the responsibilities of EPA inspectors at SPCC-regulated facilities; describe the reportable discharge history criteria for facilities wishing to use alternate measures; and describe the equipment for which the EPA allows inspections to be replaced with alternative measures without an impracticability determination.
This environmental course will teach you to list the key elements of an SPCC plan; to list the inspection and testing requirements for SPCC-regulated facilities; to define the terms “baseline conditions” and “brittle fracture”; to list the factors which influence the frequency and scope of tests and inspections at SPCC-regulated facilities; to describe common elements of monthly SPCC inspections; and to describe common elements of annual SPCC inspections.
This online environmental training course will teach you to define the terms “run-on,” “runoff,” and “freeboard’; you’ll learn to describe why it’s important to control run-on and run-off; how to the “freeboard” volume can be determined for secondary containment; to describe devices and strategies that can be used to minimize or control run-on at SPCC-regulated facilities; to describe devices and strategies that can be used to control or prevent run-off at SPCC-regulated facilities, and to describe the difference between active and passive containment.
The EPA’s Stormwater Rules and Notices
According to the EPA, “Stormwater runoff is generated from rain and snowmelt events that flow over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, and does not soak into the ground. The runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. To protect these resources, communities, construction companies, industries, and others, use stormwater controls, known as best management practices (BMPs). These BMPs filter out pollutants and/or prevent pollution by controlling it at its source.”
The EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulates some stormwater discharges from three potential sources: municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities.
Proposed and final stormwater rules are listed here. They include:
- Final MS4 General Permit Remand Rule (December, 2016)
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System – Regulations for Revision of the Water Pollution Control Program Addressing Stormwater Discharges; Final Rule (December 08, 1999), Section 1 and Section 2
In addition, the EPA/NPDES includes web pages where you can keep up with the following notices:
Online Environmental Training: Stormwater Online Training Courses
You may find the following online environmental training courses related to stormwater helpful at your workplace.
This EPA training course will teach you to identify the causes of stormwater pollution; to describe legal provisions related to stormwater pollution prevention; to explain the goals of a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPP); to describe best management practices (BMPs); to distinguish structural BMPs from operational BMPs; to identify common structural BMPs and their methods; to list operational BMPs and key procedures; and to describe types of BMPs for preventing and responding to spills.
This online environmental training course will teach you to define the terms construction site, stormwater runoff, and erosion; to list and describe the possible impacts of common construction site pollutants on nearby wetlands, waterways, and fragile habitats; to list the site characteristics that must be evaluated and described in stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs); to describe how erosion control and sediment control best management practices (or BMPs) work; to distinguish between structural and non-structural BMPs; to list some key housekeeping BMPS for construction sites; and to list the order in which documents, plans, and permits are created before, during, and after a large construction project.
Conclusion: Online Environmental Training Courses for the EPA and Environmental Regulations
That’s it for our overview of the EPA’s environmental regulations and some online environmental training courses you can use at your workplace. We hope you found this helpful.
In future articles, we’re going to be taking more of a deep-dive view at particular EPA environmental regulations and environmental training needs to match, as well as showing some samples of our online environmental training courses.
Stay tuned for that and let us know if there are particular questions about EPA regulations, environmental training, and/or online environmental training courses that we can help you with.
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