Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
The "Resource Conservation and Recovery Act" (RCRA) was enacted to govern the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste. Congress amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965 to address the increasing problems faced by the nation because of a growing volume of municipal and industrial waste. RCRA set goals for: protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal; conserving energy and natural resources; reducing the amount of waste generated; and ensuring that wastes are managed in an environmentally-sound manner. It was signed into law by President Ford on October 21, 1976.
One of the Act's most notable provisions tracks hazardous wastes from their point of generation through to their disposal. The cradle to grave system requires extensive tracking and stringent bookkeeping and reporting. The Act authorized the States to carry out the functions of RCRA through EPA approved hazardous waste programs.
The Act was further expanded in the 1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments. The amendments strengthened the law by covering small quantity generators, established requirements for hazardous waste incineration, and called for closing substandard landfills. Additional amendments in 1986 regulated underground storage tanks and other leaking waste storage facilities.
How BNL Complies
In New York State, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delegates the RCRA program to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) but maintains oversight. The Laboratory is defined as a large-quantity generator of hazardous waste and has a permitted Waste Management Facility. The Lab's RCRA permit allows hazardous wastes to be stored for up to one year before being shipped to licensed treatment and disposal facilities. Under RCRA guidelines, mixed waste, which is both hazardous and radioactive, requires that a site treatment plan be developed. The Lab's Site Treatment Plan is updated annually and submitted to the NYSDEC for review. The plan documents the current mixed waste inventory and describes efforts undertaken to seek new commercial treatment and disposal outlets.
For additional information on BNL's compliance with federal, state, and local regulations please see Chapter 3, Compliance Status, of the 2009 Site Environmental Report.
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