Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste is waste that has substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment.[1]

  • Characteristic hazardous wastes are materials that are known or tested to exhibit one or more of the following hazardous traits:
  • Listed hazardous wastes are materials specifically listed by regulatory authorities as hazardous wastes which are from non-specific sources, specific sources, or discarded chemical products.[2]

Hazardous wastes may be found in different physical states such as gaseous, liquids, or solids. A hazardous waste is a special type of waste because it cannot be disposed of by common means like other by-products of our everyday lives. Depending on the physical state of the waste, treatment and solidification processes might be required.

Worldwide

Worldwide, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) estimated that more than 400 million tons of hazardous wastes are produced universally each year, mostly by industrialized countries (schmit, 1999). About 1 percent of this is shipped across international boundaries, with the majority of the transfers occurring between countries in the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) (Krueger, 1999).[3] One of the reasons for industrialized countries to ship the hazardous waste to industrializing countries for disposal is the rising cost of disposing of hazardous waste in the home country.[3]

Regulatory history

In the United States

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Hazardous wastes are wastes with properties that make them dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, contained gases, or sludges. They can be by-products of manufacturing processes or simply discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides. In regulatory terms, RCRA hazardous wastes are wastes that appear on one of the four hazardous wastes lists (F-list, K-list, P-list, or U-list), or exhibit at least one of the following four characteristics; ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity. in the US, Hazardous wastes are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Subtitle C[4].

By definition, EPA determined that some specific wastes are hazardous. These wastes are incorporated into lists published by the Agency. These lists are organized into three categories: F-list (non-specific source wastes) found in the regulations at 40 CFR 261.31, K-list (source-specific wastes) found in the regulations at 40 CFR 261.32, and P-list and the U-list (discarded commercial chemical products) found in the regulations at 40 CFR 261.33.

RCRA's record keeping system helps to track the life cycle of hazardous waste and reduces the amount of hazardous waste illegally disposed.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

The [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act] (CERCLA), was enacted in 1980. The primary contribution of CERCLA was to create a "Superfund" and provide for the clean-up and remediation of closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites. CERCLA addresses historic releases of hazardous materials, but does not specifically manage hazardous wastes.

Hazardous waste in the U.S.

In the United States, the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Hazardous wastes are defined under RCRA in 40 CFR 261 where they are divided into two major categories: characteristic wastes and listed wastes.[5]

The requirements of the RCRA apply to all the companies that generate hazardous waste as well as those companies that store or dispose hazardous waste in the United States. Many types of businesses generate hazardous waste. dry cleaners, automobile repair shops, hospitals, exterminators, and photo processing centers may all generate hazardous waste. Some hazardous waste generators are larger companies such as chemical manufacturers, electroplating companies, and oil refineries.

A U.S. facility that treats, stores, or disposes of hazardous waste must obtain a permit for doing so under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Generators and transporters of hazardous waste must meet specific requirements for handling, managing, and tracking waste. Through the RCRA, Congress directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create regulations to manage hazardous waste. Under this mandate, the EPA developed strict requirements for all aspects of hazardous waste management including the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. In addition to these federal requirements, states may develop more stringent requirements that are broader in scope than the federal regulations. Furthermore, RCRA allows states to develop regulatory programs that are at least as stringent as RCRA and, after review by EPA, the states may take over responsibility for the implementation of the requirements under RCRA. Most states take advantage of this authority, implementing their own hazardous waste programs that are at least as stringent, and in some cases are more stringent than the federal program.

Hazardous Waste Mapping Systems

The U.S. government provides several tools for mapping hazardous wastes to particular locations. These tools also allow the user to view additional information.

Universal wastes

Universal wastes are a special category of hazardous wastes that (in the U.S.):

  • generally pose a lower threat relative to other hazardous wastes are ubiquitous and produced in very large quantities by a large number of generators.

Some of the most common "universal wastes" are: fluorescent light bulbs, some specialty batteries (e.g. lithium or lead containing batteries), cathode ray tubes, and mercury-containing devices.

Universal wastes are subject to somewhat less stringent regulatory requirements. Small quantity generators of universal wastes may be classified as "conditionally exempt small quantity generators" (CESQGs) which release them from some of the regulatory requirements for the handling and storage hazardous wastes.

Universal wastes must still be disposed of properly. (For more information, see Overview of Requirements for Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators)

Household hazardous waste

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), also referred to as domestic hazardous waste or home generated special materials, is a waste that is generated from residential households. HHW only applies to waste coming from the use of materials that are labeled for and sold for "home use". Waste generated by a company or at an industrial setting is not HHW.

The following list includes categories often applied to HHW. It is important to note that many of these categories overlap and that many household wastes can fall into multiple categories:

Disposal of hazardous waste

Historically, some hazardous wastes were disposed of in regular landfills. This resulted in unfavorable amounts of hazardous materials seeping into the ground. These chemicals eventually entered to natural hydrologic systems. Many landfills now require countermeasures against groundwater contamination. For example, a barrier has to be installed along the foundation of the landfill to contain the hazardous substances that may remain in the disposed waste.[6] Currently, hazardous wastes must often be stabilized and solidified in order to enter a landfill and must undergo different treatments in order to stabilize and dispose of them. Most flammable materials can be recycled into industrial fuel. Some materials with hazardous constituents can be recycled, such as lead acid batteries.

Recycling

Some hazardous wastes can be recycled into new products.[7] Examples may include lead-acid batteries or electronic circuit boards. When heavy metals in these types of ashes go through the proper treatment, they could bind to other pollutants and convert them into easier-to-dispose solids, or they could be used as pavement filling. Such treatments reduce the level of threat of harmful chemicals, like fly and bottom ash, while also recycling the safe product. There is a recycling center facility in Oxnard, CA. The city does not charge for any hazardous materials being disposed of, but there is a limit to how much you can bring per month. Other than hazardous waste, the city also allows you to dispose of electronic waste, light-bulbs, and batteries.[8]

Portland cement

Another commonly used treatment is cement based solidification and stabilization. Cement is used because it can treat a range of hazardous wastes by improving physical characteristics and decreasing the toxicity and transmission of contaminants. The cement produced is categorized into 5 different divisions, depending on its strength and components. This process of converting sludge into cement might include the addition of pH adjustment agents, phosphates, or sulfur reagents to reduce the settling or curing time, increase the compressive strength, or reduce the leach ability of contaminants.

Incineration, destruction and waste-to-energy

Hazardous waste may be "destroyed". For example, by incinerating it at a high temperature, flammable wastes can sometimes be burned as energy sources. For example, many cement kilns burn hazardous wastes like used oils or solvents. Today, incineration treatments not only reduce the amount of hazardous waste, but also generate energy from the gases released in the process. It is known that this particular waste treatment releases toxic gases produced by the combustion of byproduct or other materials which can affect the environment. However, current technology has developed more efficient incinerator units that control these emissions to a point where this treatment is considered a more beneficial option. There are different types of incinerators which vary depending on the characteristics of the waste. Starved air incineration is another method used to treat hazardous wastes. Just like in common incineration, burning occurs, however controlling the amount of oxygen allowed proves to be significant to reduce the amount of harmful byproducts produced. Starved air incineration is an improvement of the traditional incinerators in terms of air pollution. Using this technology, it is possible to control the combustion rate of the waste and therefore reduce the air pollutants produced in the process.

Hazardous waste landfill (sequestering, isolation, etc.)

Hazardous waste may be sequestered in an hazardous waste landfill or permanent disposal facility. "In terms of hazardous waste, a landfill is defined as a disposal facility or part of a facility where hazardous waste is placed or on land and which is not a pile, a land treatment facility, a surface impoundment, an underground injection well, a salt dome formation, a salt bed formation, an underground mine, a cave, or a corrective action management unit (40 CFR 260.10)."[9][10]

Pyrolysis

Some hazardous waste types may be eliminated using pyrolysis in an ultra high temperature electrical arc, in inert conditions to avoid combustion. This treatment method may be preferable to high temperature incineration in some circumstances such as in the destruction of concentrated organic waste types, including PCBs, pesticides and other persistent organic pollutants.[11][12]

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ "Resources Conservation and Recovery Act". US EPA.
  2. ^ 40 CFR 261.31 through .33
  3. ^ a b Orloff, Kenneth, and Henry Falk. 2003. An international perspective on hazardous waste practices. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 206 (4-5):291- 302.
  4. ^ Horinko, Marianne, Cathryn Courtin. “Waste Management: A Half Century of Progress.” EPA Alumni Association. March 2016.
  5. ^ 40 CFR 261
  6. ^ Chaudhary R., Rachana M., 2006. Factors affecting hazardous waste solidification/stabilization: A Review. In: Journal of Hazardous Materials B137 pp.267–276
  7. ^ Carysforth, Carol; Neild, Mike (2002). GCSE Applied Business for Edexcel: Double Award. Heinemann. ISBN 9780435447205.
  8. ^ “Government.” City Of Oxnard, www.oxnard.org/household-hazardous-waste/.
  9. ^ Hazardous Waste Landfills
  10. ^ Land Disposal Restrictions for Hazardous Waste
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  12. ^ "Microsoft PowerPoint - ESM of pesticide POPs part 3" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-11-19.
Atomic Homefront

Atomic Homefront is a 2017 documentary film about the effects of radioactive waste stored in West Lake Landfill in St. Louis County, Missouri.

Bamako Convention

The Bamako Convention (in full: Bamako Convention on the ban on the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa) is a treaty of African nations prohibiting the import of any hazardous (including radioactive) waste. The Convention was negotiated by twelve nations of the Organisation of African Unity at Bamako, Mali in January, 1991, and came into force in 1998.

Impetus for the Bamako Convention arose from the failure of the Basel Convention to prohibit trade of hazardous waste to less developed countries (LDCs), and from the realization that many developed nations were exporting toxic wastes to Africa. This impression was strengthened by several prominent cases. One important case, which occurred in 1987, concerned the importation into Nigeria of 18,000 barrels (2,900 m3) of hazardous waste from the Italian companies Ecomar and Jelly Wax, which had agreed to pay local farmer Sunday Nana $100 per month for storage. The barrels, found in storage in the port of Koko, contained toxic waste including polychlorinated biphenyls, and their eventual shipment back to Italy led to protests closing three Italian ports.

The Bamako Convention uses a format and language similar to that of the Basel Convention, but is much stronger in prohibiting all imports of hazardous waste. Additionally, it does not make exceptions on certain hazardous wastes (like those for radioactive materials) made by the Basel Convention.

Basel Convention

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, usually known as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs). It does not, however, address the movement of radioactive waste. The Convention is also intended to minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated, to ensure their environmentally sound management as closely as possible to the source of generation, and to assist LDCs in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.

The Convention was opened for signature on 22 March 1989, and entered into force on 5 May 1992. As of October 2018, 186 states and the European Union are parties to the Convention. Haiti and the United States have signed the Convention but not ratified it.

Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future

A Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future was appointed by President Obama to look into future options for existing and future nuclear waste, following the ending of work on the incomplete Yucca Mountain Repository. At present there are 70 nuclear power plant sites where 65,000 tons of spent fuel is stored in the USA. Each year, more than 2,000 tons are added to this total. Nine states have "explicit moratoria on new nuclear power until a storage solution emerges". A deep geological repository seems to be the favored approach to storing nuclear waste.On January 26, 2012, the Commission submitted its final report to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Commission put forth seven recommendations for developing a comprehensive strategy to pursue. A major recommendation was that "the United States should undertake an integrated nuclear waste management program that leads to the timely development of one or more permanent deep geological facilities for the safe disposal of spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste".

Chemical waste

Chemical waste is a waste that is made from harmful chemicals (mostly produced by large factories). Chemical waste may fall under regulations such as COSHH in the United Kingdom, or the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in the United States. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as state and local regulations also regulate chemical use and disposal. Chemical waste may or may not be classed as hazardous waste. A chemical hazardous waste is a solid, liquid, or gaseous material that displays either a “Hazardous Characteristic” or is specifically “listed” by name as a hazardous waste. There are four characteristics chemical wastes may have to be considered as hazardous. These are Ignitability, Corrosivity, Reactivity, and Toxicity. This type of hazardous waste must be categorized as to its identity, constituents, and hazards so that it may be safely handled and managed. Chemical waste is a broad term and encompasses many types of materials. Consult the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), Product Data Sheet or Label for a list of constituents. These sources should state whether this chemical waste is a waste that needs special disposal.

Environmental racism

Environmental racism is a term used to describe environmental injustice that occurs in practice and in policy within a racialized context.In 1982, the term was coined by Benjamin Chavis, who was the then executive director of the United Church of Christ (UCC) Commission for Racial Justice, in response to the dumping of hazardous PCB waste in a town in Warren County, North Carolina. The UCC and US General Accounting Office (GAO) reports on this case in NC brought public attention to the strong association between locations of hazardous waste sites and poor minority neighborhoods. Early activists in environmental racism, Chavis and Robert Bullard pointed out institutionalized racism stemming from government and corporate policies that led to environmental racism. Practices like redlining, zoning, and colorblind adaptation planning, and factors that inhibit residents from preventing these practices include their low socioeconomic status, and lack of political representation and mobility that all contribute to environmental racism.Environmental racism can be explained through a number of ways and in most cases usually include four unique patterns. The first one includes exposure to hazardous waste. It can also be identified by determining how vulnerable a community is to issues like flooding. The accessibility of potable water can also help in measuring environmental justice. Finally, a discriminatory waste management program can also be considered a case of environmental injustice. Some social scientists have argued that some causes of environmental racism are intentional, for example, the dumping of hazardous waste in a minority community. Apart from intentional reasons, this kind of racism can also be caused by structural and institutional elements. Chavis defined environmental racism in five categories. First, he termed it as racial discrimination in defining environmental policies. He also stated that this occurs when these regulations and laws are being enforced. He further stated that it is the deliberate targeting of communities of color as far as dumping of toxic waste is concerned. He also referred to this term as the official sanctioning of dangerous poisons and pollutants in the minority communities. Finally, he termed it as the history of exclusion of people of color from attaining leadership positions in the ecological organizations. Other activists like Robert Bullard also had their own definition for the term claiming that it refers to any policy or directive that differentially harms people, groups, or even communities based on their color.

The acknowledgement of environmental racism prompted the environmental justice social movement that began in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States. Although environmental racism has been historically tied to the environmental justice movement, throughout the years the term has dissociated more and more from the environmental justice movement. In response to cases of environmental racism, grassroots organizations and campaigns have brought more attention to environmental racism in policy making and emphasize the importance of having input from minorities in policy making. Although environmental racism was coined in the US, it also occurs on the international level. Examples include the exportation of hazardous wastes to poor countries in the Global South with lax environmental policies and safety practices (pollution havens). Marginalized communities that do not have the socioeconomic and political means to oppose large corporations are at risk to environmentally racist practices that are detrimental and sometimes fatal to humans. Economic statuses and political positions are crucial factors when looking at environmental problems because they determine where a person lives. People who do not have those privileges are usually the ones who suffer from environmental problems.

Environmental racism crosses boundaries of countries and is addressed below in the context of environmental racism that has occurred outside of the US, where the term was coined.

Global waste trade

The global waste trade is the international trade of waste between countries for further treatment, disposal, or recycling. Toxic or hazardous wastes are often exported from developed countries to developing countries, also known as countries of the Global South. Therefore, the burden of the toxicity of wastes from Western countries falls predominantly onto developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The World Bank Report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, describes the amount of solid waste produced in a given country. Specifically, countries which produce more solid waste are more economically developed and more industrialized. The report explains that "[g]enerally, the higher the economic development and rate of urbanization, the greater the amount of solid waste produced.” Therefore, countries in the Global North, which are more economically developed and urbanized, produce more solid waste than Global South countries.Current international trade flows of waste follow a pattern of waste being produced in the Global North and being exported to and disposed of in the Global South. Multiple factors affect which countries produce waste and at what magnitude, including geographic location, degree of industrialization, and level of integration into the global economy.

Numerous scholars and researchers have linked the sharp increase in waste trading and the negative impacts of waste trading to the prevalence of neoliberal economic policy. With the major economic transition towards neoliberal economic policy in the 1980s, the shift towards “free-market” policy has facilitated the sharp increase in the global waste trade. Henry Giroux, Chair of Cultural Studies at McMaster University, gives his definition of neoliberal economic policy: “Neoliberalism ...removes economics and markets from the discourse of social obligations and social costs. ...As a policy and political project, neoliberalism is wedded to the privatization of public services, selling off of state functions, deregulation of finance and labor, elimination of the welfare state and unions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, and the marketization and commodification of society.” Given this economic platform of privatization, neoliberalism is based on expanding free-trade agreements and establishing open-borders to international trade markets. Trade liberalization, a neoliberal economic policy in which trade is completely deregulated, leaving no tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions on international trade, is designed to further developing countries’ economies and integrate them into the global economy. Critics claim that although free-market trade liberalization was designed to allow any country the opportunity to reach economic success, the consequences of these policies have been devastating for Global South countries, essentially crippling their economies in a servitude to the Global North. Even supporters such as the International Monetary Fund, “progress of integration has been uneven in recent decades” Specifically, developing countries have been targeted by trade liberalization policies to import waste as a means of economic expansion. The guiding neoliberal economic policy argues that the way to be integrated into the global economy is to participate in trade liberalization and exchange in international trade markets. Their claim is that smaller countries, with less infrastructure, less wealth, and less manufacturing ability, should take in hazardous wastes as a way to increase profits and stimulate their economies.

HAZWOPER

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER; HAZ-waw-pər) is a set of guidelines produced and maintained by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which regulates hazardous waste operations and emergency services in the United States and its territories. With these guidelines, the U.S. government regulates hazardous wastes and dangerous goods from inception to disposal.

HAZWOPER applies to five groups of employers and their employees. This includes employees who are exposed (or potentially exposed) to hazardous substances (including hazardous waste) and who are engaged in one of the following operations as specified by OSHA regulations 1910.120(a)(1)(i-v) and 1926.65(a)(1)(i-v):

Cleanup operations required by a governmental body (federal, state, local or other) involving hazardous substances conducted at uncontrolled hazardous-waste sites

Corrective actions involving clean-up operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) as amended (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.)

Voluntary cleanup operations at sites recognized by a federal, state, local, or other governmental body as uncontrolled hazardous-waste sites

Operations involving hazardous waste which are conducted at treatment, storage and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 264 and 265 pursuant to the RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement RCRA regulations

Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of release of, hazardous substances (regardless of the hazard's location)The most commonly used manual for HAZWOPER activities is Department of Health and Human Services Publication 85–115, Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities. Written for government contractors and first responders, the manual lists safety requirements for cleanups and emergency-response operations.

Hazardous waste in the United States

Under United States environmental policy, hazardous waste is a waste (usually a solid waste) that has the potential to:

cause, or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness; or

pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.Many types of businesses in the United States generate hazardous waste. Some are small businesses that may be located in a community. For example, dry cleaners, automobile repair shops, hospitals, exterminators, and photo processing centers all generate hazardous waste. Some hazardous waste generators are larger companies like chemical manufacturers, electroplating companies, and oil refineries. In the United States, hazardous wastes generated by commercial or industrial activities may be classified as "listed" hazardous wastes or "characteristic" hazardous wastes by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Under the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a facility that treats, stores or disposes of hazardous waste must obtain a permit for doing so. Generators of and transporters of hazardous waste must meet specific requirements for handling, managing, and tracking waste. Through the RCRA, Congress directed the EPA to create regulations to manage hazardous waste. Under this mandate, the EPA developed strict requirements for all aspects of hazardous waste management including the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. In addition to these federal requirements, states may develop more stringent requirements or requirements that are broader in scope than the federal regulations.

EPA authorizes states to implement the RCRA hazardous waste program in lieu of the federal program. For states to receive authorization, they must maintain standards that are equivalent to and at least as stringent as the federal program. Implementation of the authorized program usually includes activities such as permitting, corrective action, inspections, monitoring and enforcement.

Household hazardous waste

Household hazardous waste (HHW), sometimes called retail hazardous waste or "home generated special materials', is post-consumer waste which qualifies as hazardous waste when discarded. It includes household chemicals and other substances for which the owner no longer has a use, such as consumer products sold for home care, personal care, automotive care, pest control and other purposes. These products exhibit many of the same dangerous characteristics as fully regulated hazardous waste due to their potential for reactivity, ignitability, corrosivity, toxicity, or persistence. Examples include drain cleaners, oil paint, motor oil, antifreeze, fuel, poisons, pesticides, herbicides and rodenticides, fluorescent lamps, lamp ballasts, smoke detectors, medical waste, some types of cleaning chemicals, and consumer electronics (such as televisions, computers, and cell phones).

Certain items such as batteries and fluorescent lamps can be returned to retail stores for disposal. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) maintains a list of battery recycling locations and your local environmental organization should have list of fluorescent lamp recycling locations. The classification "household hazardous waste" has been used for decades and does not accurately reflect the larger group of materials that during the past several years have become known as "household hazardous wastes". These include items such as latex paint, non-hazardous household products and other items that do not generally exhibit hazardous characteristics which are routinely included in "household hazardous waste" disposal programs. The term "home generated special materials" more accurately identifies a broader range of items that public agencies are targeting as recyclable and/or should not be disposed of into a landfill.

Landfill Directive

The Landfill Directive, more formally Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 is a European Union directive that regulates waste management of landfills in the European Union. It was implemented by its Member States by 16 July 2001.

The Directive's overall aim is "to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment, in particular the pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, and on the global environment, including the greenhouse effect, as well as any resulting risk to human health, from the landfilling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill". This legislation also has important implications for waste handling and waste disposal.

List of waste types

Waste comes in many different forms and may be categorized in a variety of ways. The types listed here are not necessarily exclusive and there may be considerable overlap so that one waste entity may fall into one to many types.

National Priorities List

The National Priorities List (NPL) is the list of hazardous waste sites in the United States eligible for long-term remedial action (cleanup) financed under the federal Superfund program. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations outline a formal process for assessing hazardous waste sites and placing them on the NPL. The NPL is intended primarily to guide EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation.

The inclusion of a facility in the National Priorities List does not reflect a judgment of its owner or operator or make the owner or operator take any action. It also does not assign any liability to any person or company. It serves as a source of information by identifying facilities or other hazardous substance releases that appear to warrant remedial actions.

Public infrastructure

Public infrastructure is infrastructure that is owned by the public or is for public use. It is generally distinguishable from private or generic infrastructure in terms of policy, financing, purpose.

Public infrastructure is a general term often qualified specifically as:

Transport infrastructure - vehicles, road, rail, cable and financing of transport

Aviation infrastructure - air traffic control technology in aviation

Rail transport - trackage, signals, electrification of rails

Road transport - roads, bridges, tunnels

Critical infrastructure - assets required to sustain human life

Energy infrastructure - transmission and storage of fossil fuels and renewable sources

Hazardous waste - characteristics, disposal, handling of hazardous waste

Information and communication infrastructure - systems of information storage and distribution

Public capital - government-owned assets

Public works - municipal infrastructure, maintenance functions and agencies

Solid waste - generation, collection, management of trash/garbage

Sustainable urban infrastructure - technology, architecture, policy for sustainable living

Water infrastructure - the distribution and maintenance of water supply

Wastewater infrastructure - disposal and treatment of wastewater

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, is the principal federal law in the United States governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste.

Toxic waste

Toxic waste is any unwanted material in all forms that can cause harm (e.g. by being inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin). Many of today's household products such as televisions, computers and phones contain toxic chemicals that can pollute the air and contaminate soil and water. Disposing of such waste is a major public health issue.

Toxics Release Inventory

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a publicly available database containing information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities in the United States.

Washington State Department of Ecology

The Washington State Department of Ecology, or simply, Ecology, is an environmental regulatory agency for the State of Washington. The department administers laws and regulations pertaining to the areas of water quality, water rights and water resources, shoreline management, toxics clean-up, nuclear waste, hazardous waste and air quality. It also conducts monitoring and scientific assessments.

Waste management law

Waste management laws govern the transport, treatment, storage, and disposal of all manner of waste, including municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, and nuclear waste, among many other types. Waste laws are generally designed to minimize or eliminate the uncontrolled dispersal of waste materials into the environment in a manner that may cause ecological or biological harm, and include laws designed to reduce the generation of waste and promote or mandate waste recycling. Regulatory efforts include identifying and categorizing waste types and mandating transport, treatment, storage, and disposal practices.

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