Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was enacted by Congress in 1976, as an amendment to the 1965 Solid Waste Disposal Act. The goals of RCRA are to :

  • Protect human health and the environment from the hazards posed by waste disposal
  • Conserve energy and natural resources through waste recycling and recovery
  • Reduce or eliminate, as expeditiously as possible, the amount of waste generated, including hazardous waste
  • Ensure that wastes are managed in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment

As explained in EPA's orientation manual, RCRA covers a wide variety of programs dealing with waste management including a program involved in cleanup of improperly managed hazardous wastes referred to as RCRA Corrective Action. RCRA was amended by the 1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA), which include RCRA corrective action.

HTML icon RCRA Orientation Manual (U.S. EPA)

Introductory information on the solid and hazardous waste management programs under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Types of sites subject to RCRA corrective action

In Minnesota soil and or groundwater cleanup under RCRA Corrective Action is conducted by the Site Remediation Division. There are two types of sites that are subject to RCRA Corrective Action:

  1. Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, or Disposal facilities (TSDs) have RCRA permits allowing the treatment, storage and or disposal of hazardous wastes.
  2. Interim Status Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, or Disposal Facilities, commonly referred to as Interim Status Facilities. These facilities at one time applied for a RCRA treatment, storage and or disposal permit, but did not complete the permitting process. By applying for the permit, such facilities were allowed to conduct business as a Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, or Disposal Facility operating under interim status.

Hazardous Waste Generators are not subject to RCRA Corrective Action as defined in the 1984 HSWA. However, releases or potential releases from these sites are required to be properly investigated and if necessary remediated in accordance with other hazardous waste management rules found in Minn. Rules Chapter 7045 that are administered by the MPCA RCRA and remediation programs. Generators include all entities that generate a hazardous waste and include all very small, small, and large quantity generators. While conducted under different rules and authorities, investigation and remediation at Generator sites often follow the phased Corrective Action process below.

Electronic submittal requirements for RCRA sites

As of July 2009, the MPCA's Operational Support Division (OSD) is implementing an electronic document management system. All of the programs within the Superfund, RCRA, and Voluntary Cleanup Section (SRVCS) will continue to require that outside parties submit paper copies of reports, correspondence and other data submittals; however, SRVCS staff will be reviewing documents principally using an electronic document management software application.

Electronic documents have most commonly been submitted in Adobe Portable Document Format (pdf), although other formats such as Microsoft Excel or Word, or various image formats have also been submitted depending on the particular type of information. These submittals are usually provided either via e-mail, website download or on a compact disc.

In order to assist SRVCS staff review and OSD in their efforts to transition to an electronic document review procedure, the SRVCS is requiring future submittals of documents be provided in an electronic format in addition to the standard paper submittal. The preferred electronic submittal format is a single Adobe pdf file.  Individual SRVCS staff may request other formats as necessary to assist their review process. Alternative forms of electronic submittal requests may include spreadsheets, image files, or GIS file formats (e.g., shape files for visualizing site location data). 

The effective date for providing electronic document submittals in addition to paper copy submittals is September 1, 2009. The SRVCS staff appreciate your cooperation and assistance with implementing these new requirements. 

The Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, or Disposal Facilities enter the RCRA corrective action program through the permitting process. Interim Status Facilities enter the RCRA Correction Action Program through a negotiated process initiated by the MPCA. Hazardous Waste Generators usually enter the RCRA remediation program through evidence of suspected releases to soil and or ground water from improper management of hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents uncovered during hazardous waste inspections conducted by state, county or city inspectors.

The RCRA Corrective Action Process is a phased approach similar to most other cleanup programs consisting of assessment, investigation, identification and evaluation of cleanup alternatives, and implementation of a selected alternative. More formally, these phases are labeled and outlined as:

RCRA Facility Assessment - This is the initial stage of the corrective action process and usually involves the property owner, operator and regulating authority. These entities work together to assess whether there has been any releases to soil or groundwater that need further investigation. This phase of the corrective action process includes a review of all records related to the facility, a visit to the facility, and sometimes soil or water sampling.

RCRA Facility Investigation - If during the RCRA Facility Assessment it is determined by the regulating authority that additional investigation is necessary, the facility owner or operator will be required to work with an environmental consultant to write a work plan detailing proposed soil and or ground water sampling to determine the extent and magnitude of any contamination. Upon work plan approval by the regulatory authority, the work plan can be implemented. Having reviewed the results of the RCRA Facility Investigation, the regulatory authority will determine if a Corrective Measures Study will need to be conducted.

Corrective Measures Study - A Corrective Measures Study may be required by the regulating authority if the results of the RCRA Facility Investigation indicate that some type of cleanup is necessary. The Corrective Measure Study outlines potential cleanup alternatives with a recommendation regarding selection of an alternative. Prior to approving the Corrective Measures Study the regulating authority may consult the public seeking advice on remedy selection. Once the regulating authority selects a remedy the Corrective Measures Implementation phase can begin.

Corrective Measures Implementation - The Corrective Measures Implementation phase involves a detailed discussion of the selected remedy along with a schedule for implementation. Upon approval of the proposed plan and completion of the remedy the facility may be eligible for closure with respect to the RCRA Corrective Action Process.

For a detailed review of the RCRA Corrective Process please consult the RCRA Corrective Action Plan, Final, EPA 520-R-94-004, May 1994. It is important to note that the RCRA corrective action process is a flexible, phased approach terminating at any appropriate point in the process. In addition, investigation and cleanup under Minnesota's RCRA Corrective Action Program is required to be consistent with the MPCA Risk Based Site Evaluation Process. See the MPCA's risk-based site evaluation webpage for more information and guidance.

RCRA cleanup site information

The MPCA has prepared the following database which allows you to search for a specific RCRA cleanup site. The database gives some basic information about the site. The basic information includes the site name, status, ID #, address, facility type, size (acres), and types of reports conducted. Additionally, other information that can be found includes the county and MPCA region that the site is located in. Also, the site information indicates whether the site is subject to RCRA Corrective Action or whether it is a RCRA Generator. You can learn more information about the site by contacting the site contact listed. The site contact information provides an e-mail and phone number for MPCA staff involved with the site.

For further information concerning the RCRA Orientation Manual or the RCRA Corrective Action Plan Final, please call or write:

RCRA Information Center
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M Street, SW (5305W)
Washington, DC 20460
Fax: 703-603-9234

RCRA/Superfund Hotline
703-412-9810 or TDD 703-412-3323 (hearing impaired).
Long-distance callers may call 800-424-9346 or TDD 800-553-7672.

For further information concerning RCRA Corrective Action in Minnesota please contact MPCA's Michael Ginsbach at 651-757-2329.