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*	' U.S. Environmental Protection Agency	15-P-0169
^	ro.	Hffiro nf Incnortnr Perioral	June 17, 2015
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	 \ Office of Inspector General
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At a Glance
Why We Did This Review
We evaluated whether the
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and authorized
states have safeguards to
control long-term risks of
hazardous waste disposal
beyond the 30-year post-
closure care period.
The EPA regulates hazardous
waste disposal under the
Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA).
Regulations require that
owners maintain and monitor
closed disposal units for a
period that lasts 30 years. This
is called the post-closure care
period. The EPA authorized
48 states to implement the
RCRA hazardous waste
program within their state.
Leaks from disposed waste
could contaminate ground
water, resulting in loss of water
supply, high cleanup costs and
potential health problems.
Over 1,500 units are closed
with waste in place across the
This report addresses the
following EPA goal or
cross-agency strategy:
• Cleaning up communities
and advancing sustainable
Send all inquiries to our public
affairs office at (202) 566-2391
or visit
The full report is at:
Some Safeguards in Place for Long-Term Care of
Disposed Hazardous Waste, But Challenges Remain
Safe disposal of hazardous
waste requires commitment to
long-term care of closed
disposal units.
For more information on
hazardous waste disposal units
and cleanups near you, visit the
EPA's Cleanups in My
Community website at
What We Found
Long-term risks at closed RCRA hazardous
waste disposal units with waste left in place
are partly addressed by legal and
operational safeguards. For example, RCRA
regulations require that the implementing
authority—which in most cases is a state
environmental director—make a site-specific
determination on whether unacceptable
risks remain at the end of the planned
post-closure care period. In addition, RCRA
provides a safeguard through corrective
action and other enforcement authorities
that the EPA and authorized states can use
to address cleanup needs at facilities
undergoing post-closure care.
States have exercised their authority, extending post-closure care and associated
financial assurance when unacceptable risks remain. One state also ended post-
closure care and established other long-term care arrangements under an
environmental covenant. If long-term problems arise after post-closure care, the
implementing authority may be able to address these problems using its RCRA
enforcement authority.
The challenges to effective long-term care that remain include:
•	The EPA has not finalized its guidance on criteria for determining whether
human health and the environment will be protected if post-closure care
ends. The EPA missed its commitment to issue the guidance in 2013.
States have made decisions on adjusting the care period without benefit of
national guidance on criteria that should be considered.
•	Eighteen states do not have environmental covenant statutes that
strengthen controls for long-term protection of land use.
•	The EPA and state hazardous waste programs will have an increased
workload as more units reach the end of their expected 30-year
post-closure care periods.
Recommendations and Planned Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the EPA finalize the guidance on adjusting the post-closure
care period, and provide information on the benefits of implementing controls
afforded through environmental covenant statutes. The EPA agreed with all
recommendations and provided acceptable corrective actions and completion