United States             Solid Waste and
                    Environmental Protection      Emergency Response          EPA/530-SW-90-067
                    Agency                (OS-305)                 July 1990

                    Office of Solid Waste
x°/EPA        Environmental
                    Fact  Sheet
                    PROPOSED RULEMAKING FOR
                    WASTE MANAGEMENT UNITS AT

               This proposed rule is intended to establish a comprehensive set of procedural and
            technical standards for investigation and cleanup of facilities that receive permits for
            managing hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
            (RCRA). The proposal will provide a consistent regulatory framework for making
            cleanup decisions at thousands of industrial facilities across the United States, and will
            provide impetus for an increased State role in this important environmental cleanup

       In 1984, amendments to RCRA provided broad new mandates to
       address cleanup, or "corrective action," at facilities engaged in
       management of hazardous wastes,  and therefore, subject to regulation
       under Subtitle C of RCRA. Prior to  1984, the primary focus of the
       RCRA program was one of "prevention," that is, ensuring that newly
       generated hazardous wastes were managed properly by industrial
       handlers, in order to avoid creating new contamination problems and
       new Superfund sites. Since the 1984 amendments, however, the
       corrective action program under RCRA has been a critical component
       of the Agency's overall hazardous waste regulatory program. The scope
       and mandate of the corrective action program, and the types of
       environmental problems that it will address, are comparable in many
       respects to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund

       Under Section 3004(u) of RCRA, all permits issued after 1984 must
       address corrective action for the entire facility. Section 3004(v)
       established the authority to require owners/operators to clean up
       environmental releases that migrate outside a facility's boundary.
       Section 3008(h) provides a parallel  enforcement authority to initiate
       corrective actions at facilities that have interim status (i.e., that have
       not been issued permits under RCRA).

 To date, more than 600 permits and enforcement orders have been
 issued to facilities to initiate remedial studies and actual cleanup
 actions. The Agency estimates that, ultima >ly, between 3,000 and
 4,000 facilities will require corrective actions of some kind. The types
 of industries that will potentially be affected by the corrective action
 rule are highly diverse, and include chemical manufacturing,
 petroleum refining, and many others. Approximately 350 Federal
 facilities—primarily those owned by the Departments of Defense and
 Energy—are also potentially subject to corrective action requirements.

 The types of environmental problems that are being addressed under
 the  RCRA corrective action program also vary widely. Many RCRA
 facilities are very large industrial complexes, with numerous historical
 waste management units, and serious, complex contamination
 problems affecting ground water, surface water, soils, and air. These
 facilities are equivalent in scale—and in the potential risks they pose
 to the environment and to human health—to the  sites being
 addressed under the Agency's Superfund program.  On the other
 hand, many RCRA facilities have only minor releases, and will lend
 themselves to relatively straightforward cleanup solutions.

 To date, EPA has been imposing requirements on facility owners/
 operators to investigate and clean up releases on  a case-by-case
 basis, with limited guidance. Thus, the primary objective of today's
 proposed rule is to set forth a clear and comprehensive set of
 standards and procedures that will provide a more consistent
 approach to investigating and making cleanup decisions at these
 facilities. In addition, the proposed rule will provide an opportunity for
 the regulated industry to comment on the specific aspects of the
Agency's regulatory approach to corrective action. The rule should
 also  serve to encourage States to assume a larger  role and to seek
 authorization for the corrective action program.

Following are key provisions of the proposed rule.

 • Definitions. The proposal defines several terms which are
   important to defining the scope and coverage of the rule: facility,
   release, and solid waste management unit (SWMU).

 • Process. The proposal outlines a highly flexible process for
   performing investigations and making remedial decisions. There is
   a strong emphasis placed  on streamlining investigations, focusing
   studies on plausible  solutions, and taking early actions ("interim
  measures") to  start cleanups as soon as possible. A new permit
  modification procedure is also proposed, which will provide a
  mechanism for resolving disputes between the Agency and owners/

  • Cleanup Standards. The proposal specifies how numerical cleanup
   standards for different environmental media are to be established,
   and identifies "points of compliance," that is , where the cleanup
   standards must be met. The rule proposes a 10 4 to 10 6 risk
   range for carcinogens, and a point of compliance for ground water
   at the unit boundary.

  • Remedy Selection. Four standards for remedies and a set of
   decision factors which will allow remedies to be tailored to fit
   facility conditions are proposed. These remedy selection
   requirements are designed to be flexible, and to result in cleanups
   that are consistent with Superfund remedies.

  • Waste Management Standards. The proposal outlines specific
   requirements for how hazardous and nonhazardous wastes must
   be managed in the course of cleaning up facilities. These
   requirements will ensure that adequate controls are placed on
   wastes that are stored, treated, or disposed during cleanup

This proposed rulemaking provides a clear articulation of EPA's
expectations for remedying environmental problems at thousands of
hazardous waste facilities across the United States. It should
significantly enhance the Agency's ability to effectively and
expeditiously implement this major environmental cleanup program.

For more information or to receive a copy of the Federal Register
notice, please contact the RCRA Hotline, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to
7:30 p.m., EST. The national toll-free number is (800) 424-9346; for
the hearing impaired, it is TDD (800) 553-7672. In Washington, D.C.,
the number is (202) 382-3000 or TDD (202) 475-9652.

Copies of documents applicable to this proposal may be obtained by
writing: RCRA Information Center (RIC), U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste (OS-305), 401 M Street SW,
Wasthington, D.C. 20460.