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RCRA Corrective Action

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action refers to requirements for investigating potential releases and performing cleanups at on-site areas other than the permitted hazardous waste units (e.g., spills from process operations). Both IDEM and U.S. EPA have authority to enforce and oversee RCRA Corrective Action in Indiana.

RCRA Corrective Action Applies to:

  • Permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs)
  • TSDFs that operated in the past under interim status
  • Facilities that operated without notifying U.S. EPA.

Mechanisms for Corrective Action:

For permitted facilities, through a Hazardous Waste permit.

For all other facilities, IDEM and the responsible party may enter into a Voluntary Corrective Action Agreement or a Corrective Action Agreed Order under Indiana Code 13-22-13. Voluntary corrective action may be by participating in IDEM’s Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) or by an agreement under the RCRA program.

If there has been comingling of contaminants from a hazardous waste management unit and a Solid Waste Management Unit (SWMU) and/or Area of Concern (AOC), IDEM may allow the facility to close the hazardous waste management units at the same time it is addressing releases from the SWMU or AOC. Under this situation, the facility can request to complete closure of the hazardous waste management unit through the RCRA Corrective Action process.

The RCRA Corrective Action process consists of five key elements. All five steps may be performed, but not all are required.

  • Potential source identification (potential sources of hazardous waste/constituent releases).
    • Potential sources include regulated units, SWMUs, and AOC. For Corrective Action purposes, hazardous waste includes any chemical that may pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment.
  • Release assessment.
    • If Potential exists, the facility must perform a release assessment.
  • Release investigation.
    • If a release has occurred, the facility conduct a RCRA Facility Investigation, or RFI, to identify to determine to what extent soil or ground water is affected.
  • Evaluation and selection of an appropriate remediation technology or technologies.
  • Remediation of the release(s).

Statement of Basis

The decision to complete steps after release assessment depends on the level and type of hazardous constituents present. After evaluating all relevant information, IDEM prepares a Statement of Basis, which documents IDEM’s recommendation regarding the facility’s findings. For example, if it is determined there is no need for further investigation or cleanup, IDEM will recommend “no further action.” However, if a cleanup is necessary, the responsible party must evaluate and recommend a potential remedy. This can be done either formally through what is known as a Corrective Measures Study (CMS), or informally by drawing from the universe of remedies known to be effective, “presumptive remedies.” In either case, IDEM will evaluate the proposal, carefully review cleanup alternatives the facility wishes to implement, and work with the facility to resolve concerns.

When a permitted facility is going through the process, the facility must modify its Hazardous Waste Permit to conduct the required corrective actions.

Corrective Action Completion Determination

To achieve a “Corrective Action Complete Determination” for the facility, it must be demonstrated that either hazardous constituent levels do not exceed Estimated Quantitation Levels (EQLs, background levels), or that hazardous constituents do not pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment. This determination can be performed either after the release assessment or the release investigation, or upon completion of remediation activities.

Corrective Action Complete determinations are issued with a designation of “With Controls” or “Without Controls.” “With Controls” implies that an engineered control (e.g. landfill cap, slurry wall, etc.) and/or institutional control (i.e. deed restriction) is in place to control exposure to contaminants. The use of engineered controls requires an institutional control to address the operation and maintenance of the engineered control. If the restriction of activities or land use alone will adequately protect human health and the environment, the use of an institutional control (e.g. environmental restrictive covenant recorded on the property's deed) is sufficient. “Without Controls” implies that no contamination will be left on-site that requires the use of an engineered control or institutional control to prevent unacceptable human health or ecological exposures.

Public Notice

Before making a final determination, IDEM publishes a Public Notice in the local newspaper seeking comments on the Statement of Basis; the comment period lasts a minimum of 30 days, generally 45 calendar days. In addition to submitting comments, the public may request a hearing. After the public comment period has ended and the hearing has been held, if applicable, IDEM will review all comments, make a final decision, and send notice of the final decision and responses to comments to potentially affected and interested parties, including all people who submitted comments.

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