An Introduction to Hazardous Waste

 A Look into Hazardous Materials

Hazardous waste facilities are those whose operations generate waste products that are harmful to human health and the environmental.   These wastes are toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive.

A number of regulatory program have been established by the U.S. EPA to manage environmental problems associated with hazardous wastes, and Northwest Geoscience personnel have worked extensively in each of them.    The oldest of these programs is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) program.  Initiated in 1976, the program was designed to provide a “cradle to grave” record of all hazardous materials used or generated on a site.  The program is essentially used to regulate sites that are in operation, and can, under circumstances where hazardous materials have been released to the environment, require extensive work to monitor the wastes.  In North Carolina, RCRA is administered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) under an agreement with the U.S. EPA.

The 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) was designed to facilitate assessment and cleanup of closed or abandoned hazardous waste sites.  Often referred to as Superfund, this program is also administered by NC DENR under the Inactive Hazardous Sites program.  Nationally and in North Carolina, sites are ranked in terms of risk to determine their priority for cleanup.

In North Carolina, there is also a program designed to address releases from Dry Cleaning facilities.  It is referred to as the Dry Cleaning Act program, and is specific to such facilities. 

NC DENR also manages The Brownfields regulatory program in this state. This program, more fully described in another section of this website, is a special program for sites where it has been determined that the risk is acceptable and that substantial public good would result from cleaning up and redeveloping the property through increased tax revenues, job creation, neighborhood beautification, and improved safety.  As such, the Brownfields program is a land-recycling program.