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NDEQ’s RCRA Program Authorized to Administer Corrective Action Program

On January 17, 2017, EPA authorized NDEQ to administer the RCRA (hazardous waste) Corrective Action Program. Until now, final decisions concerning site-wide cleanup were the responsibility of EPA; now NDEQ has been given this final decision-making authority. Waste Management Section Supervisor Bill Gidley said that the program is fully prepared to assume these additional responsibilities, and that the changes will be beneficial for the agency, EPA, and those regulated under the RCRA program.

The purpose of the RCRA Corrective Action program is to ensure that contaminants in soil and groundwater are properly investigated, and that remediation occurs when necessary. The goal of these efforts is to prevent harm to human health and the environment. The corrective action program can require facilities that have had releases of hazardous waste to conduct further investigation if warranted, and, when necessary, to remediate (clean up) the contamination. There are currently 70 facilities in Nebraska that are working their way through the corrective action process.

Historically, NDEQ and EPA have both been involved in the technical review of these hazardous waste sites, with some technical reviews led by NDEQ and others led by EPA. This will continue to be the case. EPA stated that the effect of this decision is that a facility in Nebraska subject to RCRA will now have to comply with the authorized state requirements instead of the equivalent Federal requirements in order to comply with RCRA. NDEQ now has the authority to make the final decisions related to these RCRA hazardous waste situations in Nebraska.

“With Nebraska administering the program, the control of the cleanup process is in the hands of NDEQ rather than those of the USEPA in Lenexa, Kansas,” Gidley said. “This will provide for a more efficient process and a faster response to issues that arise.” Mr. Gidley went on to say that “Nebraska businesses should save time and money by interacting more with state authorities and less with the USEPA.”

Gidley said that this will not cause increases in NDEQ staffing, because NDEQ and EPA will continue to split the technical review duties along the same lines that have been occurring in the past.

NDEQ Director Jim Macy commended the efforts of the program and division to achieve this authorization.

“EPA’s decision shows that they recognize that NDEQ has the ability and expertise to guide complex technologies used in hazardous waste remediation,” Macy said.