EPA announces new reforms for cleaning up hazardous waste
The EPA has launched a second round of reforms of the regulations governing the cleanup of hazardous industrial sites.
The 1980 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action Programme was designed to ensure that hazardous waste generated from ongoing industrial operations was properly managed and did not contribute to a further generation of toxic waste sites. The first reforms in 1999 were designed to focus on results of the programme rather than bureaucratic processes, and to improve access to information for the public and involve them in the remediation process.
As a result of a series of meetings with federal and state agencies, industry, and environmental and community groups, the 2001 reforms include:
- the launching of 25 pilot projects focussed on innovative approaches, with at least one expected in each EPA region;
- the support of culture changes in the implementation of the programme, for example, by increasing interaction between the EPA, states, industry and communities;
- encouraging the involvement of communities by promoting technical assistance opportunities and publicising information resources; and
- promoting RCRA brownfields redevelopment with additional pilot projects.
“The 1999 RCRA Cleanup Reforms promote faster, focused, more flexible cleanups to meet aggressive goals at facilities managing hazardous waste,” said Timothy Fields Jr., EPA Assistant Administrator. “By fostering creative cleanup solutions, the 2001 reforms reinforce and build upon actions taken by EPA, the states, and communities to meet these goals.”
In particular, the EPA is intending to continue a dialogue with interested parties on groundwater cleanup and other issues relating to the final cleanup of hazardous sites, and to provide guidance tailored to cleanup at facilities with limited resources.
The EPA’s brownfields programme is designed to empower states, communities and other stakeholders in economic development to work together to assess, clean up and sustainably reuse brownfield sites. The programme involves funding demonstration pilot brownfield-remediation projects, in order to provide training for residents and communities, preparing trainees for future employment in the environmental field, as well as assisting with the actual clean up of the sites.