Prior to 1976, hazardous waste – which includes used oil, cleaning agents, solvents, acid, pesticides, materials contaminated with these types of wastes, etc. – was not regulated. That changed in 1976 when the federal government passed a law called the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The law established a 'cradle to grave' regulatory system to track hazardous wastes (from the point at which waste is generated at a facility until its disposal). The law requires the use of safe and secure procedures in treating, transporting, storing and disposing of hazardous wastes.
DHEC has its own regulations which are consistent with the federal regulations. Our agency is authorized by the EPA to implement RCRA in South Carolina. We issue RCRA Hazardous Waste Management permits, which require and measure compliance at facilities that treat, store and dispose of hazardous waste.
A RCRA permit outlines what a facility must do to properly handle the hazardous waste it generates.
DHEC can issue a combination of three types of RCRA permits based on facility operations:
• Treatment Permit – For facilities that use processes to change the character or make-up of waste;
• Storage Permit – For facilities that keep waste temporarily until it is treated or disposed of; and
• Disposal Permit – For facilities that permanently contain waste on-site.
The permit also requires the facility to identify environmental contamination and correct this problem (known as corrective action). The RCRA permit sets up the framework for a facility to investigate and clean-up hazardous waste contamination of the soil, groundwater, surface water or air. DHEC oversees all stages of the corrective action process. A corrective action plan tracks the cleanup of past hazardous waste contamination associated with a site. A corrective action plan includes:
• Cleanup; and
• Long-term monitoring.