2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) encourages reuse and recycling, but it does not exempt recycling from its regulations. To settle allegations that its operations did not comply with RCRA, a recycler has agreed to pay almost $1.2 million in civil penalties and to implement compliance measures estimated to cost over $1.6 million.

Recycling Still Subject to RCRA
In its news release announcing the settlement, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said, “While federal law encourages responsible recycling of hazardous waste, recyclers must still comply with legal requirements…” For example, the company provided parts washing services that included removal of used solvent from their customers’ facilities. Some of the used solvent was hazardous waste, but the company did not handle the used solvent in accordance with RCRA.

Unusable Material Is Waste if Separation Required
DOJ alleged that the company “evaded hazardous waste requirements by improperly claiming that the unusable solvents were products instead of wastes.” When used material requires systematic gravity separation to recover material suitable for resale, the material is waste and subject to RCRA.

More Testing to Identify and Remove Material with Hazardous Characteristics
For another recycling operation, the settlement requires the company to increase its testing to identify and promptly remove from its facilities any material with hazardous characteristics.

To see DOJ’s news release, which includes a link to see the Complaint and proposed Consent Decree https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/heritage-crystal-clean-llc-pay-more-11-million-penalties-and-implement-compliance-measures