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EPA Offers Industrial-Strength Tool for Managing Industrial-Size Waste Disposal

By Judy Kane

What Users Are Saying

"Good work!,"--Marianne Lamont Horinko, Clay Associates

"What a great resource. Thank you so much." --Mary McCullough, McKenna & Cuneo

"This is a wonderful tool, one I have been wanting a long time."--Amy Porter, Bureau of National Affairs

The Environmental Protection Agency has opened a new website that will help companies that must comply with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as well as those federal workers who must enforce the law.

This 1976 law and its amendments deal with how to safely manage and dispose of the huge volumes of non-hazardous and hazardous waste generated nationwide.

EPA's Office of Solid Waste (OSW) has developed RCRA Online, a full-text, electronic database of more than 2,000 selected letters, and memoranda covering nearly 20 years. These documents cover the management of all wastes regulated under RCRA. The database also has information about voluntary programs and special initiatives. OSW plans to update the database regularly.

How the Database Works

Users can locate, view, and print the actual text of the documents they find through topical, full-text and advanced search functions. Here's how the search works:

  • You can search for topics, which is the simplest way. You'll find a wide range of topics such as air emissions, closure, and variances.
  • You can type in a keyword or so to conduct a full-text search. You can limit the number of documents the database will find and also search for word variants, synonyms or related words. For example, the word "gas" will also locate documents with the words "vapor", "fumes" and "helium."
  • You can launch an advanced search if you know specific criteria. These include date, author, recipient, title, statutory and regulatory citation, fax-on-demand code, RCRA Permit Policy Compendium number (RPPC), National Technical Information Service (NTIS) number or EPA Document Number. The advanced search function also allows searches by keyword or keywords.

The RCRA Permit Policy Compendium used to be a separate database, but OSW consolidated it into RCRA Online, saving EPA valuable resources and users considerable time.

Who Needs It and Why?

Managing municipal and industrial waste is no small task, and that's why the new website is getting a positive review by government permit writers, corporate compliance officers and others. For example, it would be helpful to a businessman who is opening a tannery and needs a permit for a waste disposal site. A city planner could research letters, rulings and other documents to determine whether a rule applies to her jurisdiction. A lawyer representing a company involved in a waste disposal lawsuit could access background information and documents to help develop his litigation strategy.

Brochure Available

OSW has also prepared a brochure (EPA 530-F-98-022) that describes RCRA Online in further detail. To order it, call the RCRA, Superfund & EPCRA Hotline at (800) 424-9346 or (703) 412-9810 in the Washington, DC area.

About the Author

Judy Kane is a project officer for EPA's Office of Solid Waste. You may reach her at (703) 308-7893 or

April 6, 1999