In the United States, hazardous waste activities, and to a lesser extent non-hazardous “solid waste” activities, are regulated under a “cradle-to-grave” tracking, permitting and management system established in the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and related regulations. This includes detailed regulations and permits for hazardous waste generators, transporters, landfills, waste incinerators and waste treatment facilities. It also includes regulation of recycling and reuse of discarded materials and off-spec products and regulations defining when a “secondary material” can be considered a fuel rather than a waste.

Apart from the rigorous regulation of disposal and treatment facilities such as landfills or solvent recovery operations, RCRA touches industrial facilities of all types —large and small – if they generate defined amounts of hazardous or non-hazardous waste. As “generators” of waste, these facilities must document compliance with detailed regulations for the management, storage and ultimate proper disposal, treatment, recycling or reuse of the waste. If the waste meets the RCRA definition of “hazardous waste,” the generating facility must make a RCRA hazardous waste “determination”, obtain a “generator” identification number, and adhere to strict limitations on drum labeling, storage, and manifesting for off-site disposal or treatment.

In some instances, these facilities are also located on property that is currently or has in the past been used for treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste, and as such must obtain RCRA “facility” permits or undergo RCRA “corrective action” to remediate hazardous waste contamination.

Environmental Law Counsel has experience representing a number of clients in the waste management business who own and operate active landfills or have closure or post-closure compliance responsibilities and/ or liabilities associated with closed landfills. In addition to RCRA compliance issues, we have represented landfill owners in negotiating and leading CERCLA (“Superfund”) and state ordered investigations and clean-ups. We have also represented landfill-gas-to energy system operators.

We also have extensive experience representing manufacturers and chemical, oil and gas clients who are subject to RCRA – or who are alleged to be subject to RCRA– requirements as “generators” or as operators of facilities that are subject to RCRA “facility” permits for past or current treatment or disposal operations. We have guided a number of these clients through RCRA permitting and state and federal-led “corrective action.”

Representative Matters

Our notable experience in waste matters includes:

  • Represented manufacturing client in responding to smoldering on-site landfill, analysis of waste streams, and negotiation of a state consent agreement for management of the landfill and future waste streams to avoid the generation of potential characteristically “reactive” waste, as defined under RCRA.
  • Represented Global Fortune 500 waste management company in response to USEPA Unilateral Order to clean up a major CERCLA site in northern Indiana, including negotiation of Record on Decision and Scope of Work for remediation, and subsequent negotiations and litigation with large group of potentially responsible parties in the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.
  • Represented owner of two municipal landfills in response to state Remedial Action Priority Site listing, including soil and groundwater investigations, obtaining approval of remediation plan, development of community relations plan, compliance with National and State Contingency Plan requirements, and filing of environmental insurance claims.
  • Represented a landfill owner in settling allegations of groundwater contamination beneath the landfill migrating to neighboring townhome owners’ groundwater wells, including negotiating the provision of municipal water to the residents.
  • Proposed and obtained site-specific “delisting” of landfill leachate as a hazardous waste for an Illinois landfill, minimizing transportation and disposal costs.
  • Obtained streamlined rules for bioreactor landfills in state rulemaking on Research, Development & Demonstration (RD&D) facility permits.
  • Assisted in representation of oil distributor in responding to Department of Justice requests for information pertaining to the import and export of oil products alleged to have been hazardous waste and to have been illegally imported, exported and treated at sea.
  • Drafted language for bills to be submitted in the Illinois General Assembly, met with legislators, and prepared and presented testimony in support of such bills, including bills addressing disposal of clean construction debris, landfill siting, and environmental agency procedures.
  • Represented chemical manufacturers and heavy equipment manufacturer in obtaining RCRA facility permits and negotiating the scope and requirements for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste Corrective Action.
  • Defended petroleum refinery in responding to state multi-media complaint, including allegations of on-site hazardous waste disposal and RCRA permit non-compliance.