Lower Colorado Basin Federal Hazardous Materials Laws

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

This Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to control hazardous waste from "cradle-to-grave." This includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also sets forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous wastes. The 1986 amendments to RCRA enable EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances. RCRA focuses only on active and future facilities and does not address abandoned or historical sites.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)

This Act creates a Federal "Superfund" to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. Through the Act, EPA was given power to seek out those parties responsible for any release and assure their cooperation in the cleanup.

EPA cleans up orphan sites when potentially responsible parties cannot be identified or located, or when they fail to act. Through various enforcement tools, EPA also recovers costs from financially viable individuals and companies once a response action has been completed.

Clean Air Act (CAA)

EPA sets limits on how much of a pollutant can be in the air anywhere in the United States. The law allows individual states to have stronger pollution controls, but states are not allowed to have weaker pollution controls than those set for the whole country.

States develop state implementation plans (SIPS) that explain how each state will do its job under the CAA. A SIPS is a collection of the regulations a state will use to clean up polluted areas. States must involve the public, through hearings and opportunities to comment, in the development of each state's implementation plan.

National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

This is the process of collecting, compiling, and analyzing information, statistics, or data to determine the extent of injuries to natural resources from hazardous substance releases or oil discharges and to determine appropriate ways of restoring and compensating for those injuries.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

An EMS is a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the processes and actions that an organization undertakes to meet its business and environmental goals.

For more information on Hazardous Material services, contact Hazardous Materials Coordinator Jeff Smith at jefferysmith@usbr.gov or 702-293-8060.

Last Updated: 6/24/2020