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Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), state and federal hazardous waste regulatory
authorities oversee the issuance and maintenance of permits during the active life and post-closure
care period of regulated hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.
A RCRA permit is a legally binding document that establishes the facility-specific waste management
activities that a facility owner or operator can conduct and the conditions under which they can
conduct them. The permit sets forth requirements for facility design and operation, lays out safety
standards, and describes activities that the facility must perform, such as monitoring and reporting.
Permits require facilities to develop emergency plans, provide financial assurance that the owner or
operator can cover the costs of properly closing and cleaning up their facilities find insurance and
financial backing, and train employees. Permits include facility-specific requirements such as
groundwater monitoring. The permitting agency has the authority to issue or deny permits and is
responsible for monitoring the facility to ensure that it is complying with the conditions in the
permit. (See Hazardous Waste Permitting).
As the majority of facilities who are subject to RCRA permitting requirements now have permits in
place, the permitting workload is now shifting to permit maintenance, e.g., permit renewals and modifications.
Permit conditions that are developed when permits are initially issued frequently need to be revised during
the permit term to address evolving facility conditions, for example, in response to business changes, as
well as changes in applicable regulatory requirements.
All facilities that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste must comply with a robust set of
technical standards (See
Introduction to Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (PDF)). Those
facilities that were already in existence when standards were promulgated must comply with the self-
implementing standards in 40 CFR part 265 while they complete the process of applying for and obtaining
a permit. Those who will be new facilities must apply for and obtain a permit prior to construction or
operation. For these facilities, the standards in 40 CFR part 264 (and possibly other relevant sections,
such as part 266 or 268, depending on the types of operations) will be incorporated into their permit.
The technical standards of both 264 and 265 include general facility standards, preparedness and
prevention procedures, contingency plans and emergency procedures, manifest requirements, and
recordkeeping guidelines. Additionally, there are specific design requirements based on the type of
activity they conduct (e.g., storage, disposal) and the permitted units they operate (e.g.,
incinerators, landfills). To assure full regulatory compliance, permitted and interim status facility
managers must consult 40 CFR part 264/265(and other potentially applicable sections, e.g., parts 266
and 268) for all applicable federal regulations and consider these guidelines in their facility design.
Facilities must also consult state implementing agencies to identify more stringent state hazardous
waste management requirements.
The program also imposes Corrective Action requirements necessary to clean up past releases of hazardous
chemicals from these facilities, either as a component of the facility permit, or as a corrective action
order, or other type of enforceable documents. (See
Corrective Action page for more information).