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United States              EPA530-F-95-030
Environmental Protection      February 1996

The U.S.
Protection Agency
(EPA) developed the
RCRA Expanded
Public Participation
Ride to empower
communities to
become more
actively involved in
local hazardous
waste management.
                          his rule
                          makes it
                          easier for
                   citizens to become
                   involved earlier and
                   more often in the
                   process of permitting
                   hazardous waste facil-
                   ities. It also expands
                   public access to
                   information about
                   facilities. As a result,
                   the rule enables com-
                   munities to become
more active participants in important local
environmental decisions. In addition, the
rule addresses environmental justice con-
cerns by providing opportunities for all
members of a community to have a voice
in the permitting process.
  The RCRA Expanded Public
Participation Rule also helps facilities.
Earlier participation can eliminate confusion
or delays in the permitting process that can
occur when the public is not involved until
much later. This helps ensure that the per-
mitting process moves forward in a timely
manner. By fostering better relationships
with communities, the rule also can help
improve facilities' images and reduce poten-
tial conflict. In addition, citizens are often
able to provide valuable information regard-
ing local conditions for facilities to consider
in developing their permit applications.
Furthermore, the rule is very flexible—it
identifies the basic requirements needed to
satisfy EPA's public participation goals and
recommends additional activities that facili-
ties might conduct.
                                              The RCRA Expanded Public Participation Rule:
Involves the public earlier in the permitting process
Provides more opportunities for public participation
Expands public access to information
Offers guidance on how facilities can improve public
    To Whom Does This Rule Apply?
           he new rule applies to hazardous
           waste facilities that are seeking an
           initial or renewed permit under
    Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation
    and Recovery Act (RCRA). Hazardous waste
    facilities are those that generate,  accumulate,
    treat, and/or dispose of hazardous wastes. To
    conduct their operations, they must obtain a
    permit from an EPA-authorized  state/tribe
    or from EPA in states/tribes that are not
    authorized to administer RCRA permits.
  The RCRA Expanded Public
Participation Rule does not require
facilities that are already involved in the
permitting process to repeat a step in
order to comply with the new regula-
tions. The rule does require, however,
that facilities comply with new require-
ments during steps that they have not
yet undertaken. Authorized states/tribes
must modify their permitting require-
ments to meet  the new public participa-
tion regulations.

How Voes the Rule Increase
Public Involvement?

          rior to this rule, RCRA
          provided opportunities for
          formal public involvement
at two key points in  the permitting
process: 1) when the permitting agency
announced its intent to grant or deny a
permit and 2) when  a facility requested
a modification  of a permit that had
already been granted.
Based on recommendations from envi-
ronmental groups, business trade asso-
ciations, and concerned citizens, EPA
revised RCRA's permitting procedures
to involve the public much earlier, to
provide more opportunities for public
involvement throughout the process,
and to expand  public access to infor-
mation about the facility and its
activities. Specifically, the rule improves
public participation  in the following
four ways:
/. Permit applicants must hold an
   informal public meeting to inform
   community members of proposed
   hazardous waste management

             activities before applying for a
             permit to conduct these activities.
          2,. The permitting agency must
             announce the submission of a
             permit application by sending a
             notice to everyone on the facility
             mailing list. The announcement
             will tell community members
             where they can examine the appli-
             cation while the agency reviews it.

          3. The permitting agency may require
             a facility to set up an information
             repository (or library) at any point
             during the permitting process. The
             repository should include relevant
             documents, such as the permit
             application, reports, and any other
             information the permitting agency
             wishes to  make available.

          4. The permitting agency must notify
             the public prior to a trial (or test)
             burn at a combustion facility (i.e.,
             an  incinerator or other facility that
             burns hazardous waste) by sending
             a notice to everyone on the facility
             mailing list.
 for More Information
 Copies of the rule and relevant documents can be
 obtained by calling the RCRA Hotline at 800 424-
 9346 or TOO 800 553-7672. In the Washington, OC,
 area, call 703 412-9810 or TOO 703 412-3323.
 'Documents can also be obtained- by writing the
 RCRA Information Center (RIC), U.S. Environmental
 Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste, 401 M.
 Street, SW. (5305W) Wellington, OC 20460.
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