Regulatory Authority for Cleanup
Two federal laws govern the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites in the United States (U.S.). The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)A 1976 amendment to the first federal solid waste legislation, the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. In RCRA, Congress established initial directives and guidelines for U.S. EPA to regulate and manage solid waste, including hazardous waste. RCRA established a regulatory system to track hazardous substances from the time of generation to final disposal. The law requires safe and secure procedures to be used in treating, transporting, storing and disposing of hazardous wastes. RCRA was designed to prevent new, uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. regulates generators of hazardous waste and hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)Commonly known as Superfund, this law created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. CERCLA established prohibitions and requirements concerning closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites; provided for liability of persons responsible for releases of hazardous waste at these sites; and established a trust fund to provide for cleanup when no responsible party could be identified. The law authorizes two kinds of response actions: Short-term removals, where actions may be taken to address releases or threatened releases requiring prompt response. Long-term remedial response actions, that permanently and significantly reduce the dangers associated with releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances that are serious, but not immediately life threatening., also known as Superfund, was created to fund the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. The two programs include similar milestone decision documents, public involvement steps, and parallel, or equivalent, corrective action steps that govern the cleanup processes at sites where hazardous materials have been released. RCRA gives authorized states, including California, the ability to enforce environmental cleanup, or corrective actions.
The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) has been delegated authority by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement the RCRA program in California. CalEPA's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)The department within the California Environmental Protection Agency in charge of the regulation of hazardous waste from generation to final disposal. DTSC oversees the investigation and cleanup of hazardous waste sites. is the lead regulatory agency for environmental investigation and cleanup activities associated with Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) Topock Compressor Station (Station) and Topock Project Site (Site). DTSC was designated as the lead agency for the Site cleanup by CalEPA's Site Designation Committee under the authority of California Health and Safety Code 25260 et seq, which allows the responsible party to request designation of a single administering agency to oversee site investigation and remedial action. As the lead California regulatory agency, DTSC directs all site investigation and cleanup activities in accordance with RCRA and the California Environmental Quality Act. PG&E entered into an agreement with DTSC in 1996 to undertake investigation and cleanup actions at the Site.
Federal agencies with jurisdiction over surrounding land also have jurisdiction over the remediation process pursuant to CERCLA. In July 2005, PG&E and these federal agencies, which include the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation, entered into a Consent AgreementA voluntary agreement between a lead agency and responsible party in which the company commits to investigate the nature and extent of contamination at and surrounding a site governed by RCRA, and to take corrective action. to facilitate federal oversight of remediation activities. In accordance with this agreement, environmental investigation and cleanup activities at the Station, which are being conducted under the RCRA Corrective Action ProcessA process designed to evaluate the nature and extent of releases of a hazardous substance and implement appropriate measures to protect public health and the environment., are also being conducted to meet the requirements set forth by CERCLA. PG&E and the DOI executed a Remedial Design/Remedial Action Consent DecreeAn agreement between a lead agency and responsible party in which the responsible party commits to investigate the nature and extent of contamination at and surrounding a site governed by CERCLA, and related remedial actions addressing contamination, and to take corrective action. under the CERCLA in 2012, which was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in January 2013, and became effective upon approval by the court in November 2013.