March 20, 2009

A business that generates or manages hazardous wastes may face inspection from federal, state and/or local authorities. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delegated its authority to most states to run the hazardous waste regulatory program in lieu of the federal government. The EPA retains the rights to “overfile” or step in if it believes that the State’s regulatory efforts are not sufficient.

Inspectors that are trained to assess hazardous waste compliance are trained to look for alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), state statutes and regulations, and local ordinance provisions. In many cases local ordinances incorporate by reference federal or state regulations. Local authorities who have the authority to review hazardous waste compliance may cite companies for noncompliance. Local authorities may choose to refer such cases to state and federal authorities for review and prosecution.

In Minnesota, and in many other states, local authorities have been delegated authority by the state to conduct hazardous waste inspections. In Minnesota inspectors from counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area are authorized to implement the hazardous waste regulatory program in lieu of the federal and state authorities. These counties have entered into memorandums of understanding that specify the delegation of authority.  Generally, the counties reserve the right to refer matters to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Companies should take very seriously local or county authorities who are conducting hazardous waste inspections or conducting other environmental inspections. A more powerful state or federal authority backed up by plenty of enforcement authority may simply be a telephone call away.

Generators in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area can get more information about county regulation of hazardous waste by visiting the following websites:

Anoka County

Carver County

Dakota County

Hennepin County

Ramsey County

Scott County

Washington County

At Hessian & McKasy’s Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group our environmental lawyers work with clients in Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding cities.  Our environmental lawyers have represented parties across the state before the MPCA.

The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, Hessian & McKasy P.A.

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