Whether you need assistance with a specific program element or need a status assessment of an entire management system, we are here to provide the information, experience and tools that you will need.
Our Consulting Services Help Keep You in Regulatory Compliance
We invite you to also review our information on our compliance assessment services. Because there are regulatory and practical cross-links between environmental regulations and occupational health and safety regulations, we invite you to view our Workplace Safety page.
On this page, we present summaries of various environmental regulations.
Environmental Regulations Overview
If your business has impacts to the environment, then you likely have regulatory compliance obligations. In brief, environmental regulations cover impacts to air, water and land. Ultimate regulatory authority governing industrial activities and pollution control regulation lies with the Federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). However, administration of the regulations typically occurs at the State and local government levels. Additionally, State and local governments may have their own standards and requirements which must be at least as stringent as Federal rules.
Summarized, here are typical environmental rules and regulations by topic that may apply to your business:
The Spill Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) is a federal regulation governs the storage of oils at or above certain thresholds. It requires written plans that identify the amount and location of stored oils; the types of equipment associated with storage of the oils; the topography of the storage location and predicted flow paths from a leak or release; spill response plans and procedures; reporting requirements and other aspects. We have found that there are common errors and omissions made in the implementation of SPCC plans usually related to container identification, totaling quantities of regulated materials, certification and allocation of resource statements, periodic updates, and the content and scope of applicable spill response plans. Reference: 40 CFR, Part 112. Please ask us how our consulting services can help with the preparation and implementation of a SPCC Plan for your business.
The Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) governs the reporting of hazardous and toxic chemicals stored at or above reportable quantities (RQs). The purpose of the regulation is to inform the public and local first responders (such as the local fire agency) about the types and quantities of chemical hazards present at a facility. Reference: 42 US Code Chapter 116, Sections 304, 311 and 312 of the Act. Development of your chemical inventory may require attention and resources that you don’t now have. We can assist with the chemical inventory process as well as preparation of your reporting documentation. Please ask us how we may help you.
Toxics Release Inventory
The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) is a provision of EPCRA that requires facilities to calculate and then report (via a “Form R”) the release of chemicals that are manufactured or otherwise used at or above threshold quantities. The TRI rule is contained in SARA (Superfund Amendments and reauthorization Act of 1986) Title III. Reference: 42 US Code, Chapter 116, § 313. We can assist you with the development of procedures and methods to track chemical releases at your facility. See also information on Water Quality and Air Quality below.
Note that there may be opportunities for you to modify processes at your facility to reduce the amounts and types of chemicals. Please ask us how we may help you meet your TRI reporting requirement.
Hazardous Waste Management
Hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous waste takes many physical forms and may be solid, semi-solid, liquid, or even contained gases. RCRA hazardous wastes fall into two categories – it is either a “listed waste” specified by the EPA or it is a “characteristic waste” that exhibits one or more characteristics. As a generator of hazardous waste, you are responsible for the safe and effective management of those wastes. Specific requirements apply depending on the quantities of hazardous wastes that you generate. In general, you must ensure the correct accumulation, storage and disposal of those wastes. To do so, you must manage the containers, storage areas and inspection of the same. Further, you must manage documentation and records related to the storage and disposal of hazardous wastes. In summary, the regulations cover the treatment, storage, disposal of hazardous wastes. Reference: 40 CFR, Part 261.
The regulatory requirements on you as a generator of hazardous waste seemingly focus on your hazardous waste management activity on site, but the one aspect that businesses tend to overlook is how their wastes are being managed once they leave their business. Some businesses perhaps rely too heavily on their hazardous waste hauler and do too little to ensure that their hazardous wastes are being managed and disposed of optimally. In addition, we have found it rare for businesses to conduct effective if any due diligence investigation of their hazardous waste hauler(s) or the TSDF’s (Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities) that their hazardous and recyclable universal wastes are sent to.
Because your ownership of the hazardous waste that you produce runs from “cradle to grave,” you still have risk associated with hazardous wastes long after they have left your facility. 40 CFR does not instruct you as the hazardous waste generator to make the sort of prudent inquiry that we recommend. However, as noted, your liability for the most part extents indefinitely for the wastes that you generate. It makes sense then to know best who is managing your hazardous wastes. Not all TSDF’s or hazardous waste haulers are the same. The EPA maintains a database on these entities and some do not get very high marks. Besides a complete audit of your hazardous waste management program on site, we highly recommend a TSDF and hazardous waste hauler risk assessment audit as well.
We can also review your handling of biohazardous wastes and audit your biohazardous waste hauler and the treatment facilities that process this waste stream. We would appreciate the opportunity to consult with you and help your company with environmental compliance.
Universal wastes are specially regulated recyclable hazardous wastes that under the regulations may be managed differently than other hazardous wastes. Your business may generate universal wastes such as: consumer type batteries (either typical batteries or lead-acid batteries); pesticides, mercury-containing equipment such as fluorescent lights and high-pressure vapor lamps and other mercury-containing equipment. Reference: 40 CFR, Part 273.
This is one area of the regulations that is often overlooked by the regulated community. Please ask us how we may help you manage this regulatory requirement at your business.
Other Regulated Business Sector Activities
The EPA also regulates certain activities in construction, agriculture, oil and gas and other sectors that may have an impact on the environment and health. Some of these include: asbestos abatement; lead abatement; ozone layer protection; management of construction and demolition debris; stormwater discharges from construction sites and more.
Transportation of Hazardous Materials
US DOT (United States Department of Transportation) 49 CFR
US DOT regulates the transportation of hazardous materials. The regulation requires specific packaging and labeling of hazardous materials (which include hazardous wastes as a subset), as well as the registration and permitting of entities engaged in this transportation. Summarized, hazardous materials carrier responsibilities include: maintain documentation and records; labeling the packaging; marking the vehicle with hazard placards; ensuring that loads are compatible; securing loads; properly loading and unloading cargo; employee training; incident reporting and developing a security plan. Reference: 49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), Parts 100-185. Security Plan reference: 49 CFR, Part 172, Subpart I of the Hazardous Materials Regulation.
Department of Transportation (DOT) Hazardous Materials Security Plan
The US DOT recognizes that hazardous materials in transportation are vulnerable to sabotage or misuse and in the wrong hands pose a significant security threat. Subsequent to the terrorist attack of September 11, 1002, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) developed transportation security protocols formalized as HM-232. The FMSCA identified that certain and specific types and quantities of hazardous materials would be subject to HM-232. This protocol is administered by the PHMSA (US Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Transporters of hazardous materials regulated by this provision are required to develop and implement a security plan. This includes raining and recordkeeping. Reference: 49 CFR, Part 172 (HM-232F).
We can assist you with the development and implementation of a DOT HM-232 program. Please contact us today and ask about our consulting services.
SPPP (Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan)
This requirement applies to certain regulated activities where uncontrolled stormwater runoff may carry with it pollutants, chemicals and even sediments and then pollute waterways. (petroleum products, solvents, etc.), which can impact the environment. Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) is designed to identify potential sources of pollution and describe practices used to reduce and prevent pollutants in stormwater discharges.
According to the EPA:
“Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated. The primary method to control stormwater discharges is the use of best management practices (BMPs). In addition, most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage under an NPDES permit.”
The goal of the SWPPP is to protect surface and groundwater resources by reducing or eliminating potential sources of pollution from coming into contact with stormwater runoff.
Stormwater runoff is managed to the requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which is part of the Clean Water Act. In general, the NPDES stormwater program requires operators of locations such as construction sites, and locations where outdoor industrial activities t may present a notable stormwater pollution source. The potential pollution source can be as simple as a large parking area from which stomwater may carry with it oil, grease and other pollutants. Such sites must obtain authorization to discharge stormwater under an NPDES stormwater permit. Permit requirements include stormwater runoff monitoring, employee training, reporting and associated recordkeeping. The person having financial responsibility or operational control for a facility regulated under this rule shall develop, implement, update, and maintain a storm water pollution prevention plan that:
- identifies potential sources of pollution that may reasonably be expected to affect the quality of storm water discharges exposed to industrial activity from the facility;
- describes practices and measures to be used to reduce the potential for pollutants to be exposed to storm water;
- assures compliance with the terms and conditions of this rule;
- lists, by position title, the member or members of a facility storm water pollution prevention team, who will be responsible for developing the storm water pollution prevention plan and assisting the facility or plant manager in its implementation, maintenance, and revision; and
- clearly identifies the responsibilities of each storm water pollution prevention team member.
The requirements related to the implementation and management of a SWPPP may be found in the Clean Water Act, Sections 101, 301, 303, 304, 306, 316, 402, and 501. Reference: 40 CFR, 122 et. seq. and 33 USC.) States typically use their authority to manage the control of pollutants under the Clean Water Act (see: Section 510). It is prudent practice to verify whether your industrial, commercial or construction, activities that may require a SWPPP.
Please ask us how we may help you prepare, implement and manage a SWPPP for your facility and also examine opportunities to reduce or even eliminate your exposure and regulatory requirement.
Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit
Typically, industrial wastewater discharges to sewer must be permitted by the local municipal wastewater treatment plant in order to meet their NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) requirements. Permitting will typically entail written discharge limits, a description of industrial activities and equipment, and periodic inspections and discharge testing by the local authority. In most cases, the NPDES permit program is administered by authorized states. The Federal government regulates POTW’s (Publically Owned Treatment Works) though the issuance of an NPDES permit. A POTWs must meet their NPDES permit limits so they in turn regulate entities that discharge indusial wastewater into their systems. Depending of the types and quantities of industrial wastewater discharge(s) that you have going to municipal sewer, you may be required to engage administrative and/or engineering controls to maintain discharges within permitted amounts. Reference: The Clean Water Act and 33 USC and as above.
Your industrial discharges also factor into totals for TRI reporting (see above). We have found that some businesses fail to adequately manage this permitted activity in particular. Problematic gaps include: failing to maintain pollution control equipment; not reporting process upsets or permit excursions; failure to routinely inspect and/or maintain pollution control equipment; failure to adequately control discharge points from possible unintended illegal discharges.
Please ask us how our consulting services can help you meet your regulatory obligations.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) is the comprehensive federal law that regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources. Among other things, this law authorizes EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and public welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
Industrial activities that result in point source discharge of air pollutants are regulated under the CAA. While a point source for air pollution emissions is typically thought of as a smoke stack, there may be hundreds or even thousands of point sources at a facility – for example, the potential leak points of flanges, valve packing and other points in a refinery. In addition, beside internal combustion exhaust from vehicles, other non-point sources of air pollution are regulated – such as the use of chemicals that contribute to smog or ozone depletion. In those cases, the user has to monitor and record the amounts of chemicals being used and calculate emissions. Through application of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has classified air pollutants constituents into six different criteria pollutants. Discharge limits have been set by the EPA. The Clean Air Act requires all states to develop and implement an operating permit program that meets minimum federal requirements. Most of the significant air pollution sources throughout the country must obtain a permit from their respective state, tribal, or local permitting authority. Major sources of air pollution fall under the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Title V (“Title five”) permitting program. The Title V program consolidates all of the applicable requirements for a facility into a single, comprehensive “operating permit” for air pollution activities. Reference: 42 USC §7401 et seq.
According to the EPA:
“The Clean Air Act provides the principal framework for national, state, and local efforts to protect air quality. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) is responsible for setting standards, also known as national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), for pollutants which are considered harmful to people and the environment. OAQPS is also responsible for ensuring that these air quality standards are met, or attained (in cooperation with state, Tribal, and local governments) through national standards and strategies to control pollutant emissions from automobiles, factories, and other sources.”
Most industrial and commercial point sources of air pollution are regulated by local governments and so, your permit is usually issued by a local county authority such as an air pollution control district. Permits will identify regulated equipment, the allowed discharge amounts and limits, and requirements for inspections, maintenance, recordkeeping and reporting – among others. Typically too, employee training is a necessary component of compliance. We have found that sometimes air permit conditions are missed by the regulated community. Typical omissions include: failure to accurately track emissions; inaccurate air emission reporting; failure to report excursions from permit conditions; failure to properly maintain pollution control equipment; failure to advise the regulatory agency when permitted conditions have changed (such as removing a regulated piece of equipment form inventory or adding a new, un-permitted piece of equipment); modifying or changing operating procedures or chemicals that may then alter permitted activities.
As with other environmental permits, changes in your operations can affect your regulatory compliance. And there may be viable opportunities for you to reduce or even cease activities permitted activities and thereby potentially reduce the costs associated with meeting permit conditions. Please contact us about our consulting services.
Electronics Waste Management and Recycling
Electronics are one of the fastest growing waste streams in the United States. Electronics typically contain hazardous and toxic components such as heavy metals (lead, for example). To keep them out of the landfill and potentially damaging the environment, electronic waste (“E-waste”) recycling has become a requirement for commercial entities. In order to formalize and control the process, 25 states have now enacted electronics recycling laws. However, your business should recycle your electronics wastes regardless of whether your State has enacted an e-waste program. Effective manage e-waste to divert it from landfill disposal. It is beholden on commercial and industrial entities to manage their electronic wastes in a manner that reduces impacts to the environment. Unfortunately, many businesses are still playing catch-up to the law. Consequently, waste electronics generated by business are still entering landfills or may be mismanaged by recyclers who are not meeting industry standards.
E-waste recycling is a partnership between the generator, the recycler and the local community. To ensure that recycling is managed properly, investigate the provider and determine whether they are certified. While e-waste recyclers do not need to be certified, because of your potential exposure should recycling go wrong (as evidenced by several noteworthy news accounts,) your best approach may likely be to choose a certified e-waste recycler. We can assist you with making that determination and also with implementing an effective e-waste recycling program at your business. Please ask us how we may assist you.
The EPA encourages all electronics recyclers to become certified by demonstrating to an accredited, independent third-party registrar/auditor that they meet specific standards to safely recycle and manage electronics. Currently two accredited certification standards exist: the Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) and the e-Stewards® standards. The EPA has agreed to provide technical assistance to the R2 and e-Stewards Standards programs. They do not however endorse or promote policies or guidance of either certification entity. Note that e-waste recyclers may re-purpose electronics, refurbish them or simply disassemble them for their scrap and precious metal value.
For entities who manage e-waste recycling and wish to become certified as an e-waste recycler, please review the information on R2 electronics Waste Recycling under our Management System link under “Services” on the home page. We would appreciate the opportunity to consult with you and help your business with e-waste recycling.