What is Corrective Action?
Corrective action is a requirement under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that facilities that treat, store or dispose of hazardous wastes investigate and clean up hazardous releases into soil, ground water, surface water and air. In 1984, Congress passed the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments, which granted EPA expanded authority to require corrective action at permitted and non-permitted treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs).
Rather than creating a rigid regulatory framework for corrective action, EPA developed guidance and policy documents to assist facilities conducting cleanups. Some of the resources are broad in scope, while others are more process or media specific. Corrective action is principally implemented through RCRA permits and orders. RCRA permits issued to TSDFs must include provisions for corrective action as well as financial assurance to cover the costs of implementing those cleanup measures. In additional to EPA, 43 states and territories are authorized to run the Corrective Action program. Corrective action is largely enforced through statutory authorities established by RCRA.
The Corrective Action Process
The RCRA corrective action cleanup process focuses on results rather than specific steps, and is flexible, depending on site-specific conditions. A typical cleanup may include steps such as: initial site assessment, site characterization, interim actions, evaluation of remedial alternatives, and implementation of the selected remedy. Because no one approach is likely to be appropriate for all corrective action facilities, these five elements should not be viewed as prescribed steps in the corrective action process. Instead, they serve as evaluations necessary to make good cleanup decisions within a flexible program. The five elements are described below in more detail. Additional elements of corrective action to keep in mind, and which are also described below, are tracking progress and long-term care. Select the clean-up step to learn more about its function in the RCRA corrective action process. EPA provides links to guidance documents and other information to help the regulated community and program implementers learn about and enforce the corrective action process.