Compliance Inspection Program for Hazardous Waste
DEC's Inspection Program
Inspection of facilities that manage hazardous waste is a DEC activity, required by State law, that protects human health and the environment. The inspection program is coordinated by the InspectionCompliance Section located at the DEC Headquarters in Albany, and is managed through the nine DEC Regional Offices. Each Regional Office has an inspection staff who perform a total of approximately 700 inspections Statewide each year.
RCRA hazardous waste inspections and enforcements performed by NYSDEC employees can be searched for at EPA's ECHO web site (See the link under Links Leaving DEC's Website: on the right side of this page).
Types of Facilities or Sites Inspected:
- Generator - those that generate hazardous waste;
- Treatment, storage or disposal facility (TSDF) - those sites which use land and structures for treating, storing and disposing of hazardous waste; and
- Transporters - those that transport hazardous waste.
Conducting the inspection program is a three-step process:
- Hazardous waste handling areas are physically inspected. These areas may include tank and container storage areas, incinerators, landfills and any other locations where hazardous waste is generated and managed. Written records and reports related to monitoring and inspections of hazardous waste areas are also reviewed.
- Once a physical inspection and a records review are complete, the DEC inspector completes an inspection report form and makes a compliance determination (i.e., any violations of hazardous waste management regulations). When there are no violations, the facility is notified in writing and receives a copy of the inspection report.
- When a violation is confirmed by a DEC inspector, appropriate enforcement action is initiated. Depending on the severity and number of violations found during an inspection, a facility will be classified as either a Significant Non-Complier (SNC) or a Secondary Violator (SV). Violations found as SVs are resolved using a Notice of Violation, which requires the facility to correct the deficiencies in a specific time frame and to submit evidence that compliance has been achieved. A follow up inspection is conducted in some cases to ensure compliance has been achieved. Significant Non-Compliers are normally resolved as civil administrative enforcement actions, such as consent orders with payment of fines, or through referral to the office of the Attorney General to initiate a formal legal action.
What Have Inspections Revealed?
DEC conducts approximately 700 inspections annually with approximately 55% of the facilities inspected found to be substantially in compliance with state hazardous waste management regulations. Secondary Violators are designated in approximately 40% of all inspections, while Significant Non-Compliers are designated in approximately 5% of all inspections. Secondary violators historically correct violations in less than 90 days with the majority of violations being corrected within 30 days. Significant Non-Compliers usually are returned to compliance within 300 days.
Inspector Training and Certification
An integral part of the compliance inspection function is the training and certification of State inspectors to ensure uniformity of the inspection program. Each inspector is required to attend training courses and perform a number of inspections under the guidance and supervision of a certified inspector before he/she is eligible for certification and capable of performing inspections alone. The entire training and certification process usually is completed in three to six months.
The Compliance Inspection Program seeks to ensure that hazardous waste is handled safely. When violations are discovered, the goal is to correct the problem as soon as possible to prevent or minimize threats to human health or the environment.