Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for Small Business Owners

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To remove, transport and eradicate waste, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act or RCRA was implemented for these controls and to ensure the small businesses are able to ensure the contaminants are removed from the premises. While there are federal regulations attached to the RCRA, the process permits hazardous waste removal and treatment at the small business site.

The RCRA is necessary to ensure that businesses that have contaminants and hazardous waste are able to remove them and follow the legal procedure to do so when these issues are discovered. For new business owners, it is important that conditions are met that the landlord or previous owner of the property has initiated the necessary steps in following the RCRA and federal statutes in these regards. If nothing has been started in this manner, the new owner of the land or building may become responsible for waste and contamination elimination and cleaning. Because these steps must be followed by everyone, it is important to acquire all needed information about how to proceed.

While many companies are willing to follow the traditional and mandatory regulations for removal of waste and contaminants, some acquire these substances and fluids in great amounts based on the equipment and products used and created. These statutes force companies to adhere to the standards every business must follow. Even small businesses may manufacture something that causes toxic waste or other contaminants to exist on the premises. The RCRA requires these materials to be removed and transported to a safe environ where they may be cleansed, treated or stored for later destruction. If any legal violations occur, it is important to hire a lawyer to determine what to do next.

Site Visits with Waste Inspectors

Through the implemented regulations with the RCRA, a hazardous waste inspector will be on site and conduct a visit, inspection and interview to determine if waste needs to be removed, transported or discovered. The agent will want to inspect all operations to determine how much waste has accumulated, what type of waste is at the site and examine each manufacturing area. If the small business is a medical facility, this would include a pharmacy, dental or medical clinic, underground storage tanks and the morgue. For other businesses, this would involve inspection of manufacturing, distribution and storage facilities.

There is usually a large amount of areas the inspector needs to visit, and this may prompt multiple agents on site at the same time. Working for the Environmental Protection Agency, reports are prompt and complete at the time of the visit or shortly after. The inspection should reveal all hazardous waste that has accumulated during production and any byproduct of manufacturing. While many types are contained in a list, there may be other kinds that may ignite, cause corrosion to various materials, have reactive tendencies or are toxic in some manner. These are the substances and materials that need to be removed and then cleansed or stored in a safe place away from the company property.

Other Aspects of the RCRA

The regulation issued by federal law prevents contaminants and waste to remain on the property of a company. However, it is also to ensure that resources are utilized as best possible and other types of waste do not accumulate when it is not necessary. Conversing resources is important, and by following these guidelines, a company may find new processes that could lower costs and increase production. When restrictions are in place, it is essential to find a way to continue working and increase revenue for everyone involved. Sometimes, the agents that inspect the premises may provide these helpful hints along the way.

Inspections will determine how much waste is generated by the company and will place the business in a category. This will then help the inspector to understand whether various methods are assisting in proper management and disposal of hazardous waste based on requirements for the category. The containers need to be properly labeled, sealed and in working condition. Adequate training should be implemented with employees so they are aware of what is hazardous waste and how to prepare it if they are tasked to do so for the company.

Legal Help in the RCRA

Violations could become costly for the business. Because of this it is essential to hire a lawyer that understands environmental law and the EPA. He or she may be able to negotiate lesser fines, reduced charges or successful outcomes in these matters.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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