Hazardous waste is one of the most highly regulated waste streams, and if you even think your Georgia-based company is generating any, it’s imperative you’re familiar with the RCRA law. Compliance is federally mandated, and being unaware or uninformed about RCRA regulations is never a viable legal excuse for not properly disposing of any hazardous waste you generate. To avoid fines, other penalties, and putting anyone (or anything) in contact with that waste in jeopardy, make sure you’re fully versed in RCRA and how it applies to your Georgia company.
RCRA Laws in the State of Georgia – Regarding Medical Waste for Doctor Offices and Hospitals
What Is RCRA?
RCRA is the acronym (and more commonly used name) for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This was passed into law in 1976 to ensure (among other things) the proper handling, treatment, and disposal of hazardous waste.
I’m in Georgia. Does RCRA Apply to Me?
Absolutely! RCRA is a law that essentially grants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to manage the treatment of hazardous materials. The EPA is a federal body, and that means the RCRA laws (and any subsequent amendments to RCRA) affect and apply to every state.
A state can be more strict than the EPA stipulates. (Florida, for example, has more stringent laws due to its water level and concerns surrounding that.) Every state, though, is legally required to at least meet the minimum standards, as established by the EPA.
Why Work with a Hazardous Waste Management Company?
Because hazardous waste materials are so dangerous if improperly treated, it’s always a smart choice to work with a company that has the experience and expertise to safely handle your hazardous waste disposal.
Federal noncompliance can bring huge fines, and in cases of knowingly and willfully disposing of hazardous material, it can even result in prison time.
If your Georgia company produces RCRA hazardous waste (some paints, used solvents, waste oils, and so on) and you’re at all unsure about the proper protocol for identifying, packaging, shipping, or treating that waste, reach out to your local hazardous waste management companies to either ask questions or gain assistance.
How Do I Choose a Company?
To ensure you’re working with a reputable company, take the following steps:
- Check references. If other companies are satisfied, it’s more likely you will be too.
- Look for years in the industry. You want a company that’s been around long enough to have an engrained and thorough knowledge of all federal laws as well as Georgia-specific regulations. If a company is mistaken and tells you what you have is nonhazardous waste (when it’s in fact hazardous), there can be serious consequences—for you and the waste management company.
- Ask about the company’s permits and insurance. A company needs special permitting to transport hazardous waste as well as store it, so be aware that a company might need more than one permit. Insurance should be one million dollars (minimum) to deal with any potential accident or spill.
- Check the Department of Transportation (DOT) records. Is the company in good standing? Has it had any fines levied against it?
- Check the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Does the company have any fines or pending litigation?
My Company Broke the Law. Am I Liable?
As the generator of the waste, you assume cradle to grave liability. Until that waste is properly treated and disposed of, you are still liable. Having said that, if the company you hire is negligent, you (as the generator) are not likely to face fines or charges.
However, you will need to pay (again) to properly deal with your mismanaged drums of waste. In conjunction with potential attorney fees, this quickly becomes a big financial burden. So, picking the right company from the outset can save you big—in money and hassle.
For more information about hazardous waste disposal companies or what your Georgia company needs to do to be fully RCRA compliant, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a waste management Atlanta company.