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EPA Programs You May Not Know About

Posted on 10/8/2013 by Anthony R. Cardno

Most Americans are familiar with flagship U.S. EPA’s programs like the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Water Acts. EHS managers and industry professionals know that in addition to these high-profile programs, the EPA also regulates hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), chemical manufacturing under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
 
The EPA has also established regulatory programs that cover a bevy of industrial facilities, processes, and wastes. It is important that, whatever industry you are in, you are able to identify and comply with all the regulations that may affect your business, even the EPA rules you may not be aware of.

 
Nuclear Power Plant Operations
 
While many regulatory controls on nuclear power plants are promulgated and enforced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the EPA sets its own limits on radiation doses and radioactive materials emitted into the environment. These annual limits, found at 40 CFR 190, Subpart B, affect operations that are part of the nuclear fuel cycle.
 
 
Spent Nuclear Fuel
 
Operations at nuclear waste disposal sites are regulated by the NRC and the Department of Energy. The EPA, which regulates hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), also sets standards for facilities that manage and dispose of spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive wastes, and transuranic radioactive wastes from nuclear fuel reactors. These standards are meant to limit the general public’s exposure to radioactive waste both in the short term (40 CFR 191, Subpart A) and the long term (40 CFR 191, Subpart B).
 
 
Radon Proficiency Programs
 
The Radon Measurement Proficiency (RMP) Program, which is voluntary, was established by EPA to assist states and the public in selecting qualified organizations to measure indoor radon levels. The Radon Contractor Proficiency (RCP) Program is also voluntary, developed to evaluate radon mitigation contractors and provide that information to the public. Although both programs are voluntary, radon remediation contractors and others who wish to participate must pay the fees established at 40 CFR 195.
 
 
Noise Abatement
 
In the Noise Control Act (NCA) of 1972, Congress declared that inadequately controlled noise presents a danger to the health and welfare of the public. While the primary responsibility for control of noise sits with State and local governments, the EPA has set regulations to control noise from commercial sources. 40 CFR 201 sets controls for noise generated by rail cars and non-steam locomotives, while 40 CFR 202 sets controls for noise from motor carriers (trucks with a gross weight rating ≥ 10,000 engaged in interstate commerce). Noise control requirements for motorcycles built in or after 1983 can be found in 40 CFR 205.
 Although “hearing protection” is usually considered an OSHA concern, the NCA allows EPA to set labeling standards for hearing-protective devices to provide “accurate and understandable information … so that the public can make meaningful comparisons…” between products. [44 FR 56120, September 28, 1979]
 
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Ocean Dumping
 
Under the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, EPA has responsibility to “regulate the dumping of all types of materials into ocean waters and to prevent or strictly limit the dumping into ocean waters of any material which would adversely affect human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities.” [33 U.S.C. 1401(b)] Most ocean dumping activities are prohibited, but it is still possible to obtain a permit from the EPA to dump, though the process is prohibitive.
  
 
Automobile Fuel Efficiency
 
Although the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for establishing fuel economy standards for automobiles and light-duty trucks, the U.S. EPA calculates each car manufacturer’s “average fuel economy.” This calculation is essentially an average found by adding the fuel economy for each of a manufacturer’s cars and dividing by the number of cars built. [49 U.S.C. 32904(a)(1)]. EPA’s fuel economy regulations include specific technical standards, test methods, and calculations and are found at 40 CFR 600.
 
The U.S. EPA has more responsibilities than many people realize, and its regulatory reach affects facilities and workers in a broad range of industries. It is critical that EHS professionals can identify which programs affect their businesses and commit the resources needed to comply.
 
Learn the latest EPA rules at the Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop! The workshop covers crucial aspects of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, TSCA, FIFRA, CERCLA/Superfund, and more and is essential for ISO 140001 certification.
 

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