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For the past several months, KTL has been talking about the significant uptick in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) information surveys and multimedia inspections at regulated facilities—on our website, during webinars, at various conferences. Earlier this month, our team was called in to provide on-the-ground support to another manufacturer undergoing a comprehensive, unannounced multimedia inspection.
On the heels of this surprise inspection, one KTL Senior Consultant reiterates, “I can tell you firsthand based on this and other similar inspections over the past few months that inspectors are being very thorough and that the threat of financial penalty is substantial—particularly if your facility is not prepared.”
Take Action Now
KTL has been able to have some candid conversations with the EPA inspectors, and we know they plan to continue these unannounced inspections. EPA will be back in force this spring, and they have targets. It is in your best interest to make sure your facility is ready should an inspector show up on your doorstep.
Based on recent conversations and observations, KTL recommends taking at least the following four actions to prepare your facility:
- Verify your hazardous waste generator status in EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database and, if you are a small quantity generator (SQG), make sure that you have updated your EPA notification. All SQGs are required to update notification to EPA once every four years beginning September 2021. If you have not done this using the Form 8700-12, you are out of compliance and a likely target for an EPA inspection.
- Check the EPA EnviroFacts database to make sure you have identified emergency contacts for your facility and that the contacts are current. Inspectors are asking to see Emergency Response Plans and are particularly focused on correct contact information, clear conveyance of risk, and understanding of roles and responsibilities (i.e., training).
- Make sure you are appropriately managing your universal waste and hazardous waste. Have you completed a waste characterization for all hazardous waste streams and for solid waste streams that may appear to be hazardous? Are your containers closed, labeled with the nature of the hazard (see 40 CFR 262.16(b)(6)(i)(B), and dated? Are you appropriately managing and labeling any satellite accumulation areas (SAA) and container accumulation areas (CAA)?
- Establish a quick response internal inspection team that can evaluate all areas of risk in your facility to ensure you are in compliance at the time of inspection. Plan to check containers for proper labeling; ensure universal waste containers are closed and labeled properly; and verify that all hazardous waste, universal waste, and used oil management documentation is readily accessible. The inspector will ask to see your documentation.
KTL strongly encourages you to reach out if you have any questions or concerns about a potential EPA inspection. Our team has been through enough of these inspections with various clients recently to have a good handle on what to expect and what should be done to avoid financial penalty.