The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can expect increased scrutiny after a published report Friday. The inspector general revealed the agency’s legal obligation to inspect every hazardous waste facility is not being met. Shortcomings were blamed in part on limited resources.
Inspection violations include storage in unpermitted areas and containment of hazardous waste at facilities in question.
Auditors indicate a substantial variance in compliance, among facilities, despite a nearly 100% overall statutory requirement. For instance, although 85% of federal sites and 94% of private sites received the required full inspection, only 54% of state and local facilities were inspected.
The EPA relies on inspections as the primary method to determine compliance with federal regulations for hazardous waste; these regulations determine which materials may be deemed hazardous from creation to proper disposal.
America has approximately 60,000 hazardous waste facilities, with nearly 80% of homes located within a three-mile radius and 50% of homes located within a mile.
Moving forward, while aware of the situation, the EPA has not yet determined how much additional staffing and funding is required to meet its legal duty. In the meantime, increased scrutiny of the EPA may lead to increased scrutiny of employers.